Hawks handle Portsmouth, stay unbeaten
Another week, another lopsided victory over a contender.
After cruising past then-No. 3 Cranston East last week, the Bishop Hendricken football team welcomed in new No. 3 Portsmouth on Friday night and stormed to a 41-21 victory. Remington Blue rushed for 168 yards and four touchdowns on just six carries, while the defense once again flexed its muscle against an explosive team.
The Hawks are now 5-0 in league play.
“I don’t think we played our best game of the year defensively,” said Hendricken head coach Keith Croft. “They controlled the ball a lot and they had a lot of third and fourth downs they converted, but we made a few big plays when we needed to on offense. We were fortunate.”
Hendricken actually found itself in an unfamiliar spot early on. The Patriots started with the ball and marched 58 yards for a score, with standout quarterback Matt Sewall tossing a 28-yard touchdown pass to Alexander Kirby on a fourth-down play. Just over three minutes into the game, the Hawks trailed 7-0.
“I don’t think we needed to be woken up, but sometimes that can be good for you,” Croft said. “We remembered what Portsmouth did to us last year, and it was Homecoming for us. Our guys were ready to play. Portsmouth is a good team.”
And the early score seemed to turn the ignition for Hendricken’s offense. The team’s typically methodical approach turned into a quick-strike attack in response to the deficit.
Just 1:31 after the Portsmouth score – on Hendricken’s third play from scrimmage – Blue broke loose on the left side for a 44-yard touchdown run. The Hawks went for two and didn’t convert, leaving them down 7-6.
But the quick response was just the beginning. After a Portsmouth three-and-out, Hendricken quarterback Patrick Gill connected with Mike Scarcella for a 51-yard gain and Blue followed with a 4-yard touchdown run. The Hawks then recovered a Sewall fumble on Portsmouth’s next drive and needed just two more plays to hit pay-dirt again. Blue burst through the line on the right side and out-ran Sewall to the end zone for a 42-yard score on the final play of the first quarter. Robert Campbell’s extra point made it 20-7.
The Hawks had scored 20 points in eight plays.
“We’ve got a hell of a team, and I knew we could bounce back,” said Hendricken receiver/defensive back Lee Moses. “Once we get down, that just builds momentum for us, and we just continue to get pumped up and get ready for the next play.”
The Patriots managed to slow the Hawks down by holding the ball for the first five minutes of the second quarter. Sewall kept a methodical drive alive in miraculous fashion when he found Evan Criner for 35 yards to convert a third-and-33. But the Hawks ultimately delivered a stop. They hit Sewall for no gain on consecutive run plays at the 18-yard line before an incompletion on third down. The Patriots went for it on fourth down, but Moses intercepted a pass in the end zone.
The Hawks were soon flying again.
After a big run by Matt Duffie on first down, Gary Gibbs capped a five-play drive with a 9-yard touchdown run. Campbell’s extra point made it 27-7.
Portsmouth threatened once more on its next drive, but Moses intercepted Sewall again, this time with a leap and a one-handed grab.
“We mostly wanted to focus on the quarterback,” Moses said. “He’s the it guy. We basically tried to stop their run and just focus on that.”
Sewall was the talk of the league earlier in the season when he scored four touchdowns and racked up 245 yards in a victory over La Salle. He rushed for 76 yards and two scores on Friday, while completing 10 of 22 passes for 147 yards and a touchdown. The Hawks, though, allowed just one run of more than 9 yards on his 25 carries, and it only went for 18 yards. They tackled him for a loss five times.
“He’s a heck of a player,” Croft said. “The one thing that strikes me about him is the heart that kid has. He just takes shot after shot after shot, and gets up and just keeps going. His hands are on the ball every play. We knew we just had to tackle him. I don’t think it was our best tackling effort of the year, but I thought for the most part, we contained their big plays. We somewhat slowed them down and that made them go on some long sustained drives.”
Leading 27-7, the Hawks started the second half just as they did against Cranston East – with a touchdown on the first play. This time, Blue broke loose for a 65-yard score, and Campbell’s extra point made it a 34-7 game.
Blue wouldn’t touch the ball again, but in just six carries, he had made his mark. The senior now has 18 touchdowns in just six games this season.
“He’s a special running back,” Croft said. “He’s one of the best that I’ve had the opportunity to coach and he’s probably going to end up being one of the best that’s played here.”
Croft also praised the offensive line, which was manned by Tyler Champlin, Dallas Sauer, Sean Kelly, Nick Mariano and Griffin Porter.
“He’s put up some big stats, but I thought our offensive line as a whole blocked really well tonight,” Croft said. “The pass protection was solid and the run protection was obviously very good too.”
Portsmouth got back on the board with a 52-yard drive on their first possession of the second half. Sewall ran it in from 3 yards out, and Andrew French’s extra point made it 34-14.
The Hawks punted on their next two possessions but the defense didn’t let that hurt. Mitch Lucci broke up a fourth-down pass for a turnover on downs before Gary Gibbs intercepted Sewall on the Patriots’ next series.
The Hawks scored their final touchdown when Moses made a leaping catch in the end zone on a 31-yard pass from Gill. Moses had dropped a potential touchdown pass on the previous drive.
“It felt great to get the second one,” he said. “That first one, I completely lost it in the lights, so I was a little upset about that one. It felt good to get another chance.”
The Patriots scored their final points on a 4-yard touchdown run by Sewall with 5:02 left. The Hawks ran out the clock from there.
Hendricken finished with 404 total yards, including 302 on the ground. The team has now rushed for 777 yards in the last two weeks. Blue’s 168 led the way, Terrence Gibbs totaled 35 yards, Gary Gibbs had 30 yards and Gill ran for 20 yards. Gill was efficient through the air, completing five of seven passes for 102 yards. Moses caught three balls for 45 yards.
Travis O’Brien led Portsmouth with 121 rushing yards on 24 carries.
The Patriots dropped to 3-2 in league play. They’ll visit Cranston East on Friday at 7 p.m.
Hendricken has a week off before a potential battle of unbeatens against Barrington on Nov. 8 in Warwick. The Eagles still have to get through La Salle this week.
“We’re going to get back to some fundamentals – work run and get ready for Barrington,” Croft said. “Another big one.”