Cougars finally win Homecoming game

Cougars finally win Homecoming game

North Providence sophomore tailback Jevon Melendez, left, gets ready to speed past Smithfield sophomore defensive back Corey Conlin, #5, and senior defensive lineman James Cost, #52, and pick up a first down during the opening quarter of last Saturday afternoon’s Division III game. Melendez ran for 179 yards and two touchdowns on 14 carries to help the Cougars rout the Sentinels, 39-0. (Breeze photos by Eric Benevides)
NP football team picks up first victory of season by rolling past Sentinels, 39-0

NORTH PROVIDENCE – Eight days after absorbing its most lopsided loss in more than a decade, the North Providence High football team did a complete turn for the better by blasting one of its neighboring rivals on the Cougars’ Homecoming Day last Saturday afternoon before a standing-room-only gathering at Serio Field.

Sparked by a potent ground game that was keyed by sophomore tailback Jevon Melendez and junior fullback Stanley Duchatelier, as well as an outstanding performance by their defense, the Cougars picked up their first win of the season, as well as their first Homecoming victory since 2014, by ruling Smithfield, 39-0, in their Division III matchup.

Both the Cougars, who are 1-2 in D-III play, and the winless Sentinels were in desperate need of a triumph, especially since both teams suffered ugly losses the previous weekend to Division IV teams. The Cougars were downed by defending D-IV champion Tiverton, 48-0, while the Sentinels were pummeled by the North Smithfield/Mount Saint Charles co-op team, 62-0.

And on their first drive of the game, the Cougars and their fans had an uneasy feeling when NP got flagged five times for jumping offsides. Nevertheless, the Cougars’ drive resulted in a 13-yard touchdown run by Melendez with 3:29 to play in the first quarter (and the first of three extra points by senior kicker Dylan Auslander), and from that point on, this game was all North Providence’s.

“Today started off like it did in the past few weeks,” said NP head coach Glenn Williams. “But once they got their confidence and they understood what we were trying to do, they were able to move the ball. And I thought (senior quarterback) Timmy Walker did a nice job switching up the calls to the weaker side of their defense. Everything worked out well.”

Everything worked out so well that the Cougars were able to send their fans home happy with a win and silence a small, but horrific streak of Homecoming losses that not only includes last year’s 27-21 loss to Pilgrim that saw the Patriots produce 20 unanswered points in the second half, but also a 21-15 defeat to Hope in 2017 that saw the Blue Wave score the go-ahead TD with 51.6 seconds left in the game.

“Winning Homecoming is really big for these kids,” added Williams. “As you can see, they’re over there, celebrating with their fans. It’s big for them and it’s big for the school, but now we just need to keep this momentum going.”

The Cougars didn’t have any momentum at all in their loss to Tiverton, but they did receive a productive game from Melendez that seemed to carry over into Saturday’s victory, as Melendez ran for a career-high 179 yards and two touchdowns on just 14 carries.

Duchatelier, meanwhile, blocked well for Melendez and joined the Cougars’ offensive line in creating some big holes up front for Melendez to run through, and even though Duchatelier only received three carries, he picked up 82 yards on them, with 57 coming on a touchdown run 5:22 into the third quarter that gave the Cougars their final points of the contest.

“(Senior fullback) Colin (Anzeveno) has been injured, but Stanley did a nice job filling in for Colin,” added Williams. “And Jevon is just a sophomore, but he’s doing a nice job and he’s really coming on. I think he had 85 yards on 13 carries (in the loss to Tiverton), but he’s learning to run hard and you could see it today. He hits the hole, he finds something, and he makes use of it.”

Defensively, the Cougars received contributions from quite a few players in pitching their first shutout since NP’s 14-0 win over Smithfield on Thanksgiving Day in 2014. Not only did the Cougars allow just 82 yards of offense (18 in the opening half), but they also recorded two sacks, two interceptions, and a key fumble recovery by senior lineman Malaciah Turnipseed in the third quarter that preserved NP’s shutout.

The Sentinels’ best chance to score came after Duchatelier’s touchdown run, as they drove from their 30 to the Cougars’ nine-yard line on eight plays, but on first-and-goal, Smithfield coughed up the ball and Turnipseed quickly pounced on it.

Another highlight to the defense’s dynamic day came with 3:11 to go in the first quarter. Facing a first-and-10 from the Sentinels’ 35, Smithfield quarterback Corey Conlin threw a screen pass that got intercepted by Duchatelier, who had nothing but daylight in front of him as he returned it to the house for a TD.

The Cougars ended up rolling into the break with a 26-0 lead, thanks to an eight-yard touchdown pass from Walker to Anzeveno on the opening play of the second quarter and an 11-yard TD run by Walker with 6:50 left in the half. Four plays into the third quarter, the Cougars’ lead grew to 33-0 on a 43-yard run by Melendez and an extra point by Auslander.

The Cougars are back at home on Saturday at 2 p.m. with a non-league game against the Juanita Sanchez/Providence Country Day co-op team, and they will return to D-III action on Friday, Oct. 18, at 7 p.m. with a game against undefeated Pilgrim in Warwick.

Smithfield sophomore defensive back Corey Conlin, left, can’t catch up to North Providence senior quarterback Tim Walker as Walker races toward the left pilon and into the end zone on an 11-yard touchdown run with 6:50 to play in the opening half. Walker also threw a touchdown pass to help his team pick up its first victory of the season. NP will host the Juanita Sanchez/PCD co-op football team in a non-league game on Saturday at 2 p.m.