PAWTUCKET – The Woonsocket High football team’s bid to earn a home game in the opening round of this weekend’s Division I playoffs came up short last Friday night in its crossover game and regular-season finale against Shea High at Max Read Field.

And while the game came down to the final seconds of play, time was on Shea’s side, as the Raiders held on for a 20-14 win.

The Villa Novans tied the score twice after the Raiders took the lead, but with 1:15 to play in the game, Shea took the lead for good on a four-yard touchdown run by junior tailback Jadiel Diaz.

Unfortunately for the Raiders, they kicked the ball out of bounds on the ensuing kickoff, and the Novans got the ball at their own 35-yard line. Thirty-five seconds later, the Novans found themselves with the ball at the Raiders’ 29, thanks to back-to-back 15-yard penalties by Shea.

After an encroachment penalty by the Raiders gave the Novans five more yards, Woonsocket quarterback Davi Do Nascimento found Davonte Lavallee with a 20-yard pass to give the visitors a first-and-goal at the Raiders’ four-yard line with 13 seconds to play.

With seconds ticking away, Nascimento flipped the ball to Jessiah Clemmons, who was stopped near the goal line by junior linebacker Bernard Parsons. But as the Novans quickly tried to get lined up for their next play, the clock ran out and the Raiders took the victory.

“Obviously, we lost and we wanted to win, but when you’re running with injuries and banged up, and a couple of guys were late and benched, this is the game (to have that happen) before the playoffs,” Woonsocket head coach Charlie Bibeault said. “We knew we were in (the playoffs) and we would have liked the home game, but we’re just happy to be in.”

When both teams exited the field, they did so with 2-3 records in their respective divisions, as well as the fifth seeds in the D-I playoffs. The Raiders, who play in Division I-B, will be on the road on Friday night to face either the I-A’s South Kingstown or Portsmouth, and the Novans, who are in I-A, will take a short drive to Burrillville on Sunday at noon to visit the I-B’s Broncos.

Unfortunately for the Novans, “we’re banged up and we have a lot of guys missing,” Bibeault reported. “We lost our captain, our right tackle (Jayson Inthansane), in the first series of the game, to a torn ACL, and our quarterback (Daunte Melton) went out with a concussion, but our backup quarterback, Davi, stepped right in and played a great game.”

Going into the fourth quarter, the Raiders were ahead 14-6, but the Novans had a trick up their sleeve. After a Shea punt gave Woonsocket the ball at its 15, Nascimento handed the ball off to Lavallee, who then threw a 75-yard touchdown pass to Breilan Roque.

“Sometimes you’re just looking for a spark and you have to look outside the box,” Bibeault said about the halfback option.

The Novans then went for the two-point conversion and got it, as Nascimento passed to Jamaury Barr, and 28 seconds into the quarter, the score was tied at 14-14.

The Novans quickly got the ball back on a Shea fumble, but were stopped and forced to punt. The Raiders got the ball at their own 24, and after a 16-yard run by Zion Duarte was followed by a five-yard carry by Parsons, quarterback Cam Seaver connected with Daishon Alves on a 48-yard pass that gave Shea the ball inside Woonsocket’s 15-yard line.

A seven-yard run by Duarte was soon followed by Diaz’s touchdown run, as he needed some help, but pushed through his blockers and found the end zone. The Raiders then went for two, but were not successful.

After trying to score the first points of the night on a field goal, the Raiders took a 6-0 lead late in the first quarter on a 52-yard touchdown pass from Seaver to Parsons, but the Villa Novans tied the score right before halftime when Jacobi Rice recovered a fumble by the Raiders and returned it 65 yards for a touchdown.

Midway through the third quarter, the Raiders regained their lead on a 17-yard touchdown run by Parsons, and Duarte ran in the two-point conversion.

As for this season, which saw the Villa Novans win their first two games against Cranston East, 14-8, and East Greenwich, 12-7, but miss two games because of COVID, “it’s been up and down,” Bibeault said. “It’s been a roller coaster of a season, and we’re just trying to roll with the punches.”

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