Late TD lifts Lions to victory

Late TD lifts Lions to victory

Lincoln linebacker Thomas Janicki, left, takes down Ponaganset quarterback Kyle Courtemanche during the second half of their Division III contest last Saturday afternoon. The Lions improved to 3-1 by posting a 14-7 triumph. (Valley Breeze photos by Kayla Panu)
Lincoln seizes third straight Div. III victory

GLOCESTER - It went down to the wire in Division III football on Saturday afternoon, as Lincoln High scored the go-ahead touchdown with 33.1 seconds left in the game and prevented Ponaganset High from scoring the equalizer in the remaining time to take home a 14-7 victory.

"I'm very pleased," said Lincoln head coach David Waycott, whose team has now won three straight games and are 3-1 and in a three-way tie for second place with Classical and East Greenwich. "It was one of those days, rainy and cold. I'm very proud of my team. They played all the way through."

Going into the second half as the sun peeked out of the bleak, gray sky, the score was tied at 7-7. Neither the Chieftains nor the Lions could score in the third quarter, making for an exciting fourth.

Ponaganset, which has yet to win a division game in four tries, took the ball into that final quarter at the Lincoln 24-yard line, but could not put points on the board. After quarterback Kyle Courtemanche threw an incomplete pass on third-and-four, Chieftains head coach Tom Marcello decided to try a field goal. Logan Courtemanche took the kick, but his 41-yard attempt came up short.

The Ponaganset defense kept the Lions from doing much of anything on their next series, forcing them to punt the ball away. Colby Ferretti was part of that defense and had a good day. He had wrapped up running back Nathan Fay on a key second down.

"Colby Ferretti came out of his shell today," Marcello said. "He was the key to our defense."

The Chieftains could not get out of their own territory on their next possession and were also forced to punt to the Lions' 33. Three plays later, the Lions crossed midfield, and with time winding down, quarterback Matt Oakley found Fay with a big pass for a first down and Alex Leclerc with another one, as he ran out of bounds to stop the clock.

With 1:15 remaining, Oakley threw an incomplete pass, but he followed that by running for a first down to the Ponaganset 24. Then with less than a minute on the clock, Oakley set himself up and delivered the game-winning touchdown pass to Fay.

After Sam Garvin returned the ensuing kickoff to the Ponaganset 46, the Chieftains found themselves with 29.6 seconds to either tie the game or go ahead, but Kyle Courtemanche threw straight three incomplete passes.

On fourth down, the drive was kept alive and the down repeated on a Lincoln penalty, but Courtemanche's target was blocked by two Lions defenders as the clock expired, giving Lincoln the win.

"We had too many penalties," Waycott said. "We still have a lot of work to do."

Since its opening game, Ponaganset had cut down on its penalties. The Chieftains' issue, however, is their offense.

"For the offense, it comes down to executing," Marcello said. "We were executing multiple times and had some good drives. Then we stalled. In the first half, we had a lot of opportunities and should have scored two more times. In the second half, we had long fields, and it's tough to put together 15 plays for 80 or 90 yards on every drive. But the kids played great."

The Chieftains scored on their opening drive, hyping up the crowd. It took seven plays for them to score, and when they did, Kyle Courtemanche reached the end zone on a 6-yard keeper and Logan Courtemanche added the extra point.

The Lions tied things up on their first possession of the second quarter. On third down at the Lions' 32, Oakley airmailed a long 68-yard touchdown pass to Fay. The ensuing kick was good to knot the score.

"I thought we played four full quarters of great defense," Marcello said. "We had a phenomenal defensive effort."

In the last three weeks, including its game against Ponaganset, Lincoln has scored a total of 65 points. Marcello said that his team had a great game plan and great coaching.

"Our defense played well enough to win," he said.

Lincoln will host Middletown on Friday night at 7 p.m., while Ponaganset will host Classical Saturday at 11 a.m. to celebrate its Homecoming Day.

Ponaganset's James Bergin, left, chases Lincoln's Austin Pina, #32, down the field during the second half of the Lions' 14-7 victory.
Ponaganset quarterback Kyle Courtemanche, #15, barrels into the end zone for a touchdown as Lincoln defensive backs Alex Leclerc, #20, and Tyler Bostic, try to tackle him during Saturday afternoon's Division III game, won by the visiting Lions, 14-7.
Lincoln quarterback Matt Oakley, left, hands the ball off to running back Mason Pineda during the Lions' Division III contest on Saturday afternoon against Ponaganset.
Ponaganset's Tobin Ferretti, #11, is off to the races on a kickoff return, as Lincoln's Alex Leclerc, #20, chases him and Ponaganset Derrick Foster, #50, and Louis Audino, #53, follow the play during Saturday's game.