The Bishop Hendricken football team edged host Cranston East 49-29 at Cranston Stadium on Friday night.
After falling behind 35-15 in the third quarter, the Bolts would come back and narrow the Hendricken lead to just six points with 6:12 remaining in the game when Robenson Antoine hauled in a 6-yard touchdown.
However, Hendricken stormed back and scored a pair of touchdowns in the final six minutes to set the score to 49-29 and secure the win.
“I give Cranston East a lot of credit, I think they played a hell of a game tonight. They gave us everything they had … we responded kind of weird tonight, we responded in spurts. We needed more consistency, it was almost like they needed a little more motivation to get going,” said Hendricken coach Keith Croft after the win. “East has been making plays all year and tonight they pulled within (six points), our guys came up with a few touchdowns and we were able to win the game.”
Hendricken took a 28-15 lead into halftime and scored early in the third quarter on a 20-yard run by Helio Sousa to make it 35-15. East quarterback Rayven DeOliveira later rushed for a touchdown late in the third to make it 35-21.
Antoine then hauled in an interception on the Hawks’ next drive and set the Bolts up at the Hendricken 36-yard line to begin the fourth quarter. Hendricken held East scoreless, but the Bolts would be able to score on their next drive on Antoine’s touchdown reception.
“He’s impressive, he’s an impressive player. Both Robenson and Rayven played great, they’re both tremendous athletes. I also thought the offensive line played great, we had some new guys in there and they did a good job against those big kids,” said East head coach Tom Centore.
“He’s great, he’s difficult to defend. He’s not big but he moves, he finds ways and hides and catches everything that’s thrown to him. He’s a great player,” added Croft of Antoine’s performance.
Hendricken would get some breathing room when quarterback Tom Comella rushed for a 14-yard touchdown to make it 42-29 with 5:21 remaining. Hendricken would recover its own onside kick, and later get a 22-yard rushing score from Evan Rinaldi to put the game out of reach for the Bolts.
“It was a matter of just realizing that if you don’t make plays then you’re going to get beat. There wasn’t any panic but we realized that we needed to do what we had to do. Every close game helps you, every close game you learn something. You learn good things and bad things. I told the guys that we’re going to have a tough week in practice, get back to some of the basics,” said Croft. “There’s a difference between a good team and a championship team and we’re not where we need to be yet.”
Israel Emmanuel got Hendricken on the board in the first quarter when he rushed for a 19-yard score to give the Hawks the 6-3 lead. East responded when Chance McKinney took a pass from Rayven DeOliveira 80 yards for the score and to give the Bolts the 9-6 lead after one.
Hendricken took the ball down the field in the opening drive of the second quarter, converting a key 4th and 9 and capped off the sequence with a 4-yard rushing touchdown from Angel Sanchez. Emmanuel later scored on a 65-yard rush to extend the Hawks lead to 20-9.
DeOliveira closed the gap a bit when he rushed for a score, but Rinaldi added a touchdown with 1:41 left in the half to make it 28-15.
Despite the loss, Centore was proud of his team’s effort against one of the state’s premier clubs.
“I’m very proud of them. We needed a few more stops but we did come up with some big ones. We probably should have capitalized on Robenson’s interception. We picked up a lot of third downs. That is a big, physical football team and I thought we did a good job,” said Centore.