Hawks edge Saints to remain unbeaten

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The Bishop Hendricken Hawks beat the St. Raphael Saints, 27-14, on Friday night under the lights at Pariseau field in Pawtucket.

St. Ray’s missed out on a scoring opportunity on the first play of the game when quarterback Devin O’Malley threw a dime to a wide open Braxton Fontaine, but the wide receiver misplayed the ball and it slipped through his hands. On the next play, running back De’Andre Babbitt rushed up the middle before fumbling the ball and Hendricken free safety Oluwaseun Filaoye recovered it, giving the Hawks the ball at the St. Ray’s 33.

Israel Emmanuel, the Hawks’ junior running back, rushed right for a gain of seven yards on first down. However, on third-and-2, sophomore quarterback Thomas Comella threw a swing pass to Angel Sanchez, who was hit for a loss of four. Then, on fourth-and-6, Hendricken decided to go for it. Comella dumped it off to Emmanuel, who was taken down short of the marker, turning the ball over on downs to St. Ray’s at its own 31.

Hendricken forced St. Ray’s into a three-and-out and followed it with a nice punt return from Sanchez to midfield. The return was followed by a late hit from a St. Ray’s player, which is a 15-yard penalty, and put the ball at the St. Ray’s 35. On first down, Emmanuel rushed up the middle for 20 yards to the 15. On the next play, Comella took it himself, running a keeper into the end zone to give the Hawks a 6-0 lead with 6:40 remaining in the first quarter. Senior kicker Kevin Budzenski added the extra point afterward to make it 7-0.

The Hawks put together another scoring drive midway through the second quarter. This one was a 66-yard drive that started with Emmanuel rushing eight yards on first down. Then, on fourth-and-short, Comella used a keeper to move the chains, running for a gain of 12 and taking it to the St. Ray’s 22. On second-and-16, Comella threw a short pass to Angel Santana, who took it all the way to the 2. Then, Comella handed off to the fullback, Michael Rodrigues, who took it in for the score, giving the Hawks a 14-0 edge with 5:35 left in the first half.

St. Ray’s would answer on its next possession, though. On first down from its own 35, O’Malley threw a dart to Fontaine for a 17-yard completion to the Hendricken 48. On third-and-15, O’Malley connected with Fontaine again, this time on a deep pass downfield, and the wideout took it the rest of the way into pay dirt and pulled St. Ray’s within 14-7 with 4:34 left in the half.

St. Ray’s would hold Hendricken during its next possession before the Saints took over at their own 17 with 2:05 to work. On third-and-5, Babbitt rushed up the middle for a first down at the St. Ray’s 26. With two seconds left, St. Ray’s used a timeout and drew up a play. Unfortunately for St. Ray’s, it backfired. O’Malley tried a short slant pass that was picked off by Hendricken senior strong safety Dylan Gardner and returned for a touchdown, which gave the Hawks a 20-7 lead heading into the break. 

“Great play,” Hendricken head coach Keith Croft said. “It’s something that we work on in practice and he’s a senior who works his tail off. So, guys who work hard in practice, good things happen.”

Halfway through the third quarter, Hendricken got on the board again via a 55-yard scoring drive. On first down, fullback Rondie Almeida rushed for seven yards. On the next two downs, Evan Rinaldi took it 10 yards and then eight yards and brought it to the Ray’s 38. Then, the running back, Noah Robert, plowed up the middle while dragging defenders to the 8. Two plays later, Rinaldi rushed in for the score to extend Hendricken’s advantage to 27-7.

St. Ray’s responded by putting together a 71-yard scoring drive on its next possession. The spurt saw St. Ray’s go for it on a fourth-and-3 from its own 43. During that play, O’Malley ran a keeper down the sideline seven yards to move the chains. The drive was capped by a 6-yard rushing touchdown by running back Pride Clark with 4:58 remaining in the contest, which pulled St. Ray’s within 27-14.  

With the win, Hendricken improves to 4-1 overall and 3-0 in league play.

Croft said that he is happy with the play of Comella, his sophomore quarterback, who is starting his first full season since Chris Hindle graduated last year.

“He’s going to be really good as long as he keeps working and keeps studying,” Croft said of Comella.

While Hendricken was able to pull out the win, Croft was visibly upset with his players during halftime.

“I just thought we needed to play a little more physical,” Croft said. “Guys weren’t putting the effort forth that I think we’re capable of, so we’re going to have a hard week of practice and get back to some basics.”

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