Cougars slam Northmen
Cougars slam Northmen
NORTH PROVIDENCE - The North Providence High School football team is a zoo.
They're the Cougars, but they've got a moose leading the offensive and defensive lines and a Cheetah in the backfield.
The moose is captain Alex Musard, a big tackle who tends to push things out of his way, and the Cheetah is Bevin Ingram III, possibly the fastest running back in the state.
Together with their Cougar teammates, the team clawed North Smithfield, 46-20 on Friday night at the Northmen's home field, the first time that North Providence has beaten North Smithfield in four years.
Ingram and a tandem of running backs were explosive as they accounted for more than 400 yards rushing, 285 of them by Ingram, who scored four touchdowns on runs of 57, 55, 18 and 53 yards.
"It's a crucial game for us even though it's early in the season," said head coach Glenn Williams prior to the game. "North Smithfield is one of the top teams in the division. It seems that we're never healthy when we play them, but this year we are. This is a must win for us."
Last season, key players like quarterback Joel Diaz and defensive standout Tommy Marchand were sidelined by injuries as North Smithfield pulled out a last-minute win.
Not this time.
North Smithfield won the coin toss and deferred, and North Providence wasted no time. The offense began marching, but faced a fourth and one situation on their own 45.
They gave the ball to Ingram on a toss around right end and it was no contest as the speedster found a hole, broke free and let the Northmen eat his dust as he blitzed down the sideline into the end zone.
The PAT was missed, and the Cougars held a 6-0 lead.
North Smithfield's offense looked strong early on as quick dives by Nick Cicerone and passes from quarterback Mike Cicerone to Pete Keenan and Matt Lachance kept the chains moving.
But after a pair of first downs, the Cougar defense stiffened and forced a punt.
North Smithfield returned the defensive favor, forcing a three and out for North Providence and the Northmen put together their only sustained drive of the game, with Nick Cicerone barging through and into the end zone for four yards out just moments into the second quarter. A Dylan Narodowy boot for the PAT gave North Smithfield a 7-6 lead.
That would be the first and last time that North Smithfield would lead.
After David Santanelli retuned the ensuing kickoff to the 45, Ingram was handed the ball, found a slight opening and raced through it and all the way to the end zone for a 55-yard touchdown run. The PAT again failed, but North Providence had a 12-7 lead.
On their next possession, North Smithfield coughed up the ball on a fumble and North Providence recovered.
Quarterback Ian Brown rumbled for a first down on a keeper, Santanelli and Brandon Nunez ate up chunks of yardage behind an offensive line that was starting to wear down the Northmen defenders, and the Cougars marched to within the 10. From the one, Brown plunged in on a quarterback sneak to make it 18-7 with 4:30 left in the half. The PAT failed.
"After the non-league game against Classical, the coaching staff decided that we would be more aggressive and have full-speed practices, and I think that's helped a lot," said assistant coach Joe Amado. "We've been playing a lot better since then."
North Smithfield got the ensuing kickoff and began a march highlighted by a Cicerone to Keenan pass play good for 37 yards, but the Cougars' defense stepped up at that point. Josh Breggia made a big hit and stop on a second and five play, and Matt Charles at the last second broke up an attempted pass to Lachance. North Providence took the ball over, but time ran out at half.
Williams tried to suppress a smile as he talked about the team's first-half performance.
"We've been explosive in our running game, and not just Bevin," said the coach. "Breggia, Santanelli and Nunez are all running hard and we're getting some good blocking. We put in some new plays this week and they've been working."
North Smithfield took the second-half kickoff but could do nothing and once again had to punt. With Santanelli and Breggia doing the bulk of the ball toting, the Cougars marched up field and got to the 18 when Ingram once again broke through and just ran past the Northmen defense for his third touchdown. Ingram added the two-point PAT on a run around the left end, and it was 26-7.
On its first play from scrimmage after taking the kickoff, North Smithfield fumbled and once again the Cougars recovered.
After long gains by Brown and Nunez, fullback Mohammed Diaby slammed through the center of the line and into the end zone. A Sebastian Dziadkiewicz kick was good for the PAT, and it was 33-7 with four and a half minutes remaining in the third quarter.
North Smithfield refused to quit, and on a missed assignment, Keenan raced down the left sideline and with no North Providence defender within 20 yards, he took a pass in stride from Cicerone and went 55 yards for a score. The PAT failed.
North Providence roared right back. With Ingram carrying twice for about 40 yards, the team marched down field and from the two, Santanelli burst into the end zone. Dziadkiewicz's kick was good and it was 40-13.
North Providence's Diaby got hit with an unsportsmanlike penalty on the PAT for a late hit and was immediately removed from the game by the Cougar coaching staff, spending the remainder of the game on the sidelines.
With only eight minutes remaining, the Northmen did not give up even though the game was over, and they began a march down field that culminated when Cicerone hit Keenan with another touchdown pass. Narodowy's PAT kick made it 40-20.
Near game's end, Ingram once again broke loose, this time for 53 yards and his fourth touchdown of the game. The PAT failed.
North Providence has a bye week and will play a non-league contest Friday night at Plainfield, Conn. high school.