Even though the season isn’t quite halfway over, Friday’s game held substantial playoff implications, and both Warwick Vets and Coventry knew it.
Thanks to quarterback Jesse Sedoma, receiver Jeremy Morrissette and some gutsy play calling, the ’Canes are suddenly in the driver’s seat.
Sedoma threw a 10-yard touchdown pass to Will Remak with 2:30 to play in the game and then ran for his life and hit Morrissette on a fake extra point for the game-winning two-point conversion to lift Vets 28-27.
“I’m going for the win,” Vets head coach Mike Nappa said. “I hate ties. I hate going into overtime. We want to win when we can in regulation. We went for it, and the kids feel more confident in you when you force the issue.”
The ’Canes held strong on Coventry’s final possession, as they put the Oakers in a fourth-and-15 situation before Luke Cardillo knocked down a last-chance pass from quarterback Joe Foley to seal the deal.
Previously unbeaten Coventry fell to 2-1 in Division II-A, while Vets improved to 2-1 and now holds the all-important tie-breaker over the Oakers. Those two teams, along with Johnston and Mt. Hope, are all tied for second place in D-II-A behind 3-0 Woonsocket.
“That was a tiebreaker game, and both of us knew it,” Nappa said. “We both needed to win it. It’s going to be a little bit harder for Coventry to get in now, but they can slide in. They’ve got that good of a team.”
Sedoma accounted for four total touchdowns – two through the air and two with his legs – and also threw for two key conversions in the second half. Morrissette had a 58-yard touchdown reception to go with his conversion grab.
The conversion didn’t exactly go as planned, but it did get the job done. Sedoma, the team’s kicker, lined up as if he were attempting the extra point but received a direct snap. The ball was supposed to be snapped to the holder, who would then flip it back to Sedoma.
After receiving the errant snap, Sedoma was pressured instantly and had to avoid tacklers and roll to his left, where he eventually saw a window and hit Morrissette, who made a leaping one-handed catch in the back of the end zone.
“Jesse had a great game,” Nappa said. “He was on. He was being funky out there, not going down. He was scrambling like he did two games ago.”
Coventry took a 7-0 lead in the first quarter, as Mike Nolan scored on a 15-yard run and Eric Rasieleski converted the extra point. Vets struck back with a 3-yard Sedoma touchdown run, but he missed the extra point to keep it a 7-6 game.
Sedoma scored again on a 16-yard run, but that was off-set by a 31-yard touchdown reception by Darnell Fenwick from Foley, and Coventry’s extra point gave it a 14-12 lead.
A 48-yard touchdown run by Nolan extended the lead, but Vets tied it up on the 58-yard touchdown from Sedoma to Morrissette and the ensuing conversion from Sedoma to Jacob Isaac.
“I was excited, for the kids,” Nappa said. “They work hard. They followed what we told them. There’s a gameplan that you go in with, and they basically did everything that we had to do on it. We knew certain things that were there.”
Jose Santos broke the deadlock for Coventry when he reeled in a 48-yard pass from Foley, and Rasieleski’s kick gave the Oakers a seven-point lead heading into the fourth quarter.
“(Coventry) came in with this passer that (they) haven’t had in several years, who is decent,” Nappa said. “He needs work, he’s young, but it’s another area you have to adapt to. You can’t just stay up and play the run.”
With time winding down, Vets went on its game-changing drive, and finished it off with the touchdown pass to Remak and the unconventional two-point conversion.
Vets was out-gained 331 to 193, but it didn’t matter in the end. Sedoma threw for 126 yards, while Foley threw for 128 for the Oakers.
“They took away (fullback David MacDonald) and our other running backs, that’s why Jesse ran it so much,” Nappa said. “They wanted to let the quarterback beat them, but I don’t think they realized how good Jesse is.”
This week, Vets will play at Chariho on Friday at 7 p.m. The Chargers are 0-3, and if the ’Canes play well they should earn another win and be a step closer to a playoff berth.
“We should win Chariho, but it’s a trap game,” Nappa said. “We’ve got to give it what we’ve got all week and take them on as an undefeated team. We’re stressing that all week.”