NP works overtime to nip Smithfield

NP works overtime to nip Smithfield

North Providence wide receiver Aaron Blanco, #80, races toward the first-down marker as he is chased by Smithfield's Riley White during Friday night's Division IV contest at the Boyle Athletic Complex. (Breeze photos by Kayla Panu)

SMITHFIELD - The Smithfield High football team pushed its Division IV matchup with North Providence High into overtime in their Friday night duel at the Boyle Athletic Complex, but in the extra session, the Cougars were able to score a touchdown on fourth down and produce a key turnover to take an 18-12 victory.

It was Smithfield's home and league opener, and the Sentinels found themselves playing catchup right from the start. Something would go Smithfield's way, but the defending Division IV champion Cougars (2-0) would storm right back to knock the Sentinels down a notch.

"They made one more play than we did," Smithfield head coach Chris Branch said. "I thought we played hard. I thought we played tough through most of the game, and physical. We just didn't make the (one more) play when we needed to."

The Sentinels knotted the score at 12-12 with 8:16 to play in the game on a 24-yard touchdown pass from quarterback Michael Cotoia to Corey Mabray. They then tried to take the lead by going for the two-point conversion, but Cotoia threw an incomplete pass.

That touchdown was set up by a fake punt by Jordan Smith, who picked up a first down at the Cougars' 33-yard line. Three plays later, on fourth-and-nine, Mabray hauled in the touchdown pass.

The Sentinels' defense kept the Cougars' offense in check through the rest of regulation. Smithfield made one last push with 1:29 to go, but let the clock run out.

"I give them credit for their defense," North Providence head coach Glenn Williams said about Smithfield.

The Cougars had the first possession of overtime, but on the first play, Smith sacked NP quarterback David Tacelli for a nine-yard loss, pushing the Cougars back to the 19-yard line.

On second down, Tacelli passed to Juan Rios to regain the lost yards and pick up a lot more, reaching the Sentinel 2-yard line. On third down, a bad snap resulted in a loss of two yards, but on fourth down, Tacelli ran it in for the go-ahead touchdown.

"David played a tremendous game," Williams said. "He threw well and made nice audibles."

On Smithfield's possession, Cotoia was looking for an open pass, but was wrapped up in the backfield and the ball squirmed free, as Kyle Rodriguez caused the fumble. The Cougars recovered the ball to end the game and seal their victory.

While the Sentinels were unable to get on the board until the second quarter, the Cougars broke out quickly and scored on their first possession. After they forced the Sentinels into a three-and-out to begin the game, the Cougars got the ball at their own 20, and 12 plays later, they scored their first touchdown on a 25-yard pass from Tacelli to Rakeem Bontemp.

"We came out gangbusters and then got too relaxed," Williams said.

On their third possession in the second quarter, the Sentinels tied up the game at 6-6 on a 2-yard touchdown run by Riley White, but NP immediately made them pay. On the ensuing kickoff, Lucas Martin caught the ball and ran it for 66 yards to the Sentinels' 20. Despite a few penalties, the Cougars still managed to score a touchdown, as this time, Tacelli threw a 21-yard pass to Rodriguez.

"We made a lot of mistakes today," Williams said. "We had a lot of banged-up players and we had a few tweaked ankles, and we played a lot of subs in the second half. But (the subs) stepped up and did their job."

Both teams will return to action on Friday night. Smithfield will entertain Scituate (2-0), while North North Providence will host Exeter/West Greenwich (0-2) in a rematch of last year's Super Bowl, won by the Cougars, 46-12.

North Providence quarterback David Tacelli races to the outside as Smithfield's Nick Lynch tries to tackle him in the backfield during Friday night's Division IV contest at the Boyle Athletic Complex, won by the visiting Cougars in overtime.
North Providence's Lucas Martin is off to the races as he returns a kickoff 66 yards to the Smithfield 20-yard line during Friday nightÕs Division IV game. (Breeze photo by Kayla Panu)
Smithfield's Jordan Smith, right, puts his head down and runs for a first down after faking a punt during his team's game against North Providence on Friday night at the Boyle Athletic Complex. The NP player trying to tackle Smith is Nathan Moreira.
Smithfield running back Brendan Correira, right, has his sights set on carrying the ball down the field as teammate Riley White looks to throw a block for him during the Sentinels' Division IV battle with North Providence on Friday night. The Cougars defeated the Sentinels in overtime, 18-12.
Smithfield's Corey Mabray is all by himself in the end zone as he catches a touchdown pass by quarterback Michael Cotoia in the fourth quarter of the Sentinels' Division IV showdown with North Providence. That touchdown tied the score at 12-12.