Colts late season sparkle ends

Colts late season sparkle ends

By PAUL R. DUBOIS

Valley Breeze Sports Editor

pdubois@valleybreeze.com

CUMBERLAND - They became the beast everyone feared at season's end, pulling off major upsets to make their way into the Super Bowl.

But that's where the story ended for this year's Cumberland Colts Blackstone Valley American Youth Football League 5th-Grade team when they lost the title game to CLCF, 28-7.

After a slow start, the young Colts began to fire on all cylinders as the season progressed. They became the first team in two seasons to defeat the CLCF Chief, 18-7, and made it into the playoffs as the division's sixth seed.

Then they knocked off a tough Providence North End team, the second seed, 24-20, and advanced to play the undefeated Lincoln Lions, where the Colts carved out an 18-13 victory to earn a Super Bowl berth.

It was the first time in BVAYF history that a number-six seed has advanced to the Super Bowl.

All that came from a team that was 1-7 a season ago with basically the same cast of players.

In the semifinals against heavily favored Lincoln, which finished the regular season 9-0, the Colts fell behind early as Lincoln put together a strong opening drive, getting several first downs and taking up much of the first quarter, finishing the quarter with a touchdown run and giving them the lead, 7-0. The Colts finally got the football in the second quarter and put together a drive of their own, marching down field when halfback Ryan Larson took the football and broke several tackles on his way to a 45-yard touchdown run. The PAT failed, and Lincoln led by a penny at 7-6.

The Lions took the ball and started another drive that was halted when they tried to pass the football, and Colts linebacker Evan Klowen came up with a big interception giving the Colts back the ball before the half. The Colts began driving, but fumbled, and the Lions scooped up the ball and returned it to the Colts five.

Then came a key point because the Colts defense, led by Nick Fine and Derek Barry, held and the half ended 7-6.

The Colts took the ball in the second half and put together a strong offensive attack with runs by Evan Klowen, Aidan Faria, Davis Matos and Will Henson. But it was wide receiver Joey DiSalvo who took a wildcat snap and blasted 35 yards before being caught on the one-yard line setting up the Colts second score with a Evan Klowen plunge into the end zone, giving the colts the 12-7 lead. The Lions took possession and on a reverse, scored a touchdown to regain the lead at 13-12.

In the fourth quarter, the Colts put together a strong drive featuring a 35-yard gallop by Faria, but coughed the ball up on a fumble with six minutes remaining.

The Lions began to grind out the clock with their running attack, but the Colts defense stiffened and took possession on their own 45 with just under two minutes remaining.

They got stuffed on first down, and on second down the Lions defense stuffed them again. The Colts then took it to the air and quarterback Fine threw a perfect corner route pass to wide receiver Joey DiSalvo, who with a defender all over him, somehow made an incredible catch and separated from the defense, and ran for 35 yards before being knocked out of bounds.

The Colts continued the drive, and with 30 seconds remaining, Faria tore loose and raced into the end zone for the game-wining score.

It was a different story against CLCF. The Colts, knowing they had beaten the Cranston team earlier in the season, was optimistic entering the fray, the first Super Bowl appearance for a Cumberland team since 2008.

The Colts took the opening kickoff, but a spirited CLCF defense held them in check and then gained possession on an interception.

CLCF immediately began marching up field behind the stellar running of Preston Murphy and Vernon Stetson, and quarterback Michael Grenier culminated the drive with a keeper for a touchdown. CLCF added the PAT and it was 7-0.

CLCF was successful in an onside kick, recovering the ball on the Colt 46, but could not move the ball thanks to some tough tackling by Fine, Faria, Barry and Owen Molis.

The Colts took over and began a drive. They got their initial first down and drove deep into CLCF territory with a first down and goal at the nine.

But back-to-back motion penalties set them back 10 yards and killed the drive, and at half, it was 7-0.

"Those two penalties definitely took away some of our momentum," said Colts head coach Rod Patrie. "They certainly aren't going to give it to us. We're just going to continue doing to do what we do best in the second half."

But best for the Colts had been strong defense and controlling onside kicks, and they were beaten at their own game by CLCF, which recovered two onside kicks and did not allow a point until the closing minutes when the outcome was no longer in doubt.

CLCF scored on its first second-half possession when Deon Wilson broke loose around right end and raced along the sidelines into the end zone.

The PAT was good and it was 14-0.

The Colts still had a chance, but the Cranston team pulled off its second successful onside kick and regained control.

Two plays later, Murphy broke off a 40-yard touchdown run and Grenier added the PAT..

From there, the CLCF defense took over, not allowing Cumberland any breathing room.

The Cranston team added a fourth touchdown with three minutes remaining, and in their last possession of the game, Faria broke off a 65-yard gallop for a touchdown to give Cumberland its only score.