Comella, defense shine as Hendricken shuts out Portsmouth

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Hendricken Hawks’ quarterback Thomas Comella had a break-out performance on Friday night against the Portsmouth Patriots. The sophomore tossed for two touchdowns and ran in another while leading the Hawks to a 28-0 shutout win at home.

Both teams came into the game undefeated at 4-0 in Division 1-A.

The Hawks’ defense finished with 11 sacks as it pressured Portsmouth junior quarterback Kyle Bicho all night long.

“We really worked on that this week,” Hendricken head coach Keith Croft said. “We knew we had to get after that quarterback. He’s a really good quarterback, we knew we’d have to get some pressure on him and we did that.”

After a scoreless first quarter, Hendricken put together an 80-yard scoring drive early in the second quarter.

On first down, Comella threw a swing pass to sophomore Angel Sanchez for a 10-yard gain. Two plays later, the signal caller took it himself for a gain of eight to the Hawks’ 44. Then, on second-and-20, Comella completed a pass to wide receiver Luke Swift, a senior, for a gain of 19. On third-and-1, Comella found Angel Santana on a slant for a 4-yard gain and a first down at the Portsmouth 33.

Comella tossed to Swift for a 17-yard gain on the next play. Three plays after that, Comella faked a handoff before throwing a dart up the middle to Santana, who caught it in the end zone and gave the Hawks a 7-0 edge with 2:36 remaining in the half.    

Hendricken forced Portsmouth into a three-and-out on its ensuing possession, and the Hawks started on another scoring drive from 45 yards out with just 1:30 to work. That was more than enough time for the Hawks.

On first down, Comella completed a pass to Sanchez for an 8-yard pick up. On the next play, the quarterback threw a 44-yard bomb downfield to Sanchez, who leaped in front of two Portsmouth defenders and made a dazzling catch before he was brought down at the Portsmouth 4. Comella ran in a keeper after that and gave the Hawks a 14-0 advantage with 1:08 left in the half.

Hendricken forced Portsmouth into a three-and-out on its first possession of the second half. And on fourth down, when Portsmouth’s Nicolas Amaral attempted a punt, Hendricken was able to get a hand on it, causing the ball to shoot straight up in the air, and Hendricken senior Jaylen Da Cruz caught it and brought it to the Portsmouth 25.

A holding penalty pushed Hendricken back 10 yards before Comella connected with Sanchez on a 35-yard touchdown pass, putting the Hawks up 21-0 with 4:07 left in the third quarter.

Portsmouth turned the ball over on downs during its next possession, and the Hawks took over with great field position at the Portsmouth 27. On first down, running back Evan Rinaldi rushed up the middle 10 yards and moved the chains. On the next play, Michael Rodrigues, the junior fullback, plowed 17 yards into pay dirt and extended the Hawks’ lead to 28-0 with 2:13 remaining in the third quarter.

“He hasn’t gotten a lot of carries this season because he’s been playing mainly defense, but he’s a tough physical kid,” Croft said of Rodrigues. “He had some very nice carries tonight, so I’m glad to see him work.” 

Hendricken will look to move to 6-0 when it travels to take on Woonsocket on Saturday at 1 p.m.

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