Hawks top La Salle in state title rematch

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The Bishop Hendricken football team cruised past La Salle 48-27 thanks to a big second half on Friday night.

The Hawks were hungry to avenge their state title loss to the Rams last season, and were excited to get the impressive offensive output in which they did. Hendricken finished with over 500 total yards and seven touchdowns from four different players.

“We had a great game plan coming in, we had a new center who stepped up, our whole offensive line stepped up, all our running backs read their blocks great and we won,” said Hendricken quarterback Tom Comella.

Hendricken would take a quick lead on a long drive that led to a 29-yard touchdown pass from Comella to Angel Sanchez to give the Hawks the 7-0 advantage.

However, the Rams would take the momentum back by returning the ensuing kickoff for a touchdown to tie the score, followed by another touchdown that was hauled in by La Salle’s Elijah Perry to make it 14-7.

Hendricken would rebound though, and cruised the rest of the way in the statement victory.

Israel Emmanuel would take a rush 19 yards for a touchdown to knot the score at 14-14 with just over two minutes remaining in the first. Comella would later connect with Sanchez again for a score to push it to 21-14 midway through the second quarter.

The Hawks later blocked a La Salle punt which would set them up deep in the Rams zone, and they would punch in another touchdown from Emmanuel to make it 28-14 at the halftime break.

“We definitely had the momentum against us after the kick return but coach just told us we could come back and that it was still early … we came back and scored and we just kept moving,” said Comella.

The Hawks continued to cruise in the second half, beginning with Sanchez’s third touchdown when he took a screen pass for a long score. Comella would later rush for a 13-yard score after being set up by an Evan Rinaldi interception to push the lead to 41-20. Ethan Wurster would haul in one final score from Comella in the fourth quarter to cap off the win.

Hendricken head coach Keith Croft was proud of the team’s performance, as well as it’s preparation during practice this week.

“I’m happy with the way we played, have to give the kids and coaches a lot of credit with the work and preparation. The whole week they were focused with a lot of intensity,” said Croft, who stressed that Friday’s win was just another game. “It means nothing, we just need to keep winning, we need to get prepared for Saint Ray’s next week”

Croft was also happy with his team’s mental toughness when things got rocky in the first quarter, which included the La Salle kickoff return touchdown and three Hendricken penalties.

“My message to the team before the game was, ‘(La Salle is) a really good team and they’re going to make plays … the way we respond is going to determine how this game ends,’” said Croft. “I was happy, our kids didn’t get worried, they didn’t panic, no one was running around the sideline screaming, we stayed calm and knew that we were going to have to make some plays and we did.”

Comella and company hope that the big win, as well as the Hawks’ week 2 win over North Kingstown, will give them some momentum moving forward.

“It definitely is a big win, it was on all of our minds. We knew that we would come in hungry and that emotions would run high but we were able to keep those emotions in check and we played a great game,” said Comella. “It gives us a lot more confidence heading forward and hopefully it will carry us to a championship.”

Croft is also pleased to see his team face some of Rhode Island’s biggest heavyweights early in the season.

“Every game is tough but I’m glad that our team is getting to face some really good competition early,” said Croft. “We had Iona from out of state, North Kingstown and now La Salle, it’s pushed our kids and I like that because when you face tougher competition it makes you better.”

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