Football: Rios scores twice, Bulldogs end five-game losing streak to Bears

Football: Rios scores twice, Bulldogs end five-game losing streak to Bears

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Updated Westerly Stats

Updated Stonington stats

STONINGTON — When Stonington High and Westerly High come together for the annual Thanksgiving Day football game, there is always a lot of talk on both sides of the Pawcatuck River.

This year, the Bulldogs said they heard that they were Tristan Turano and little else. Which would certainly not be outlandish, considering the junior running back rushed for more than 2,100 yards and scored 25 touchdowns.

But with Turano sitting on the bench with an injured ankle, the Bulldogs put together three second-half scoring drives and defeated the Bears, 34-13, before an estimated 3,500 fans Thursday at Palmer Field.

The victory snapped a five-game winning streak by the Bears. Stonington still leads the series, 74-67-17.

“There was a lot of talk coming from this side of the river that we were a one-man team,” Westerly coach Duane Maranda said. “Our kids took that personal all week long. And I guess we are not a one-man team.”

Turano, who scored Westerly’s first touchdown in the first quarter on a 6-yard run, was injured blocking in the second quarter. He left the game and sat on the bench for the rest of the day. He had 52 yards on seven carries.

Nate Miller answered for Stonington with a 3-yard TD run with 8:15 to go in the half to make it 7-7. But the Bulldogs added a 7-yard scoring run by Junie Rios with 2:21 left in the half  to lead 14-7.

The scoring play was set up by a 20-yard fumble return from junior defensive tackle Antonio Laboy to put the ball at Stonington’s 9.

Neither team scored in the third quarter.

Westerly then put together a 13-play, 67-yard scoring drive that ended with a 3-yard touchdown run from Ryan Holloway around right end. It gave Westerly a 21-7 lead with 10:29 remaining in the game.

Stonington was called for two personal fouls and an offsides penalty on the drive. The Bears were also called for hurdling on the successful extra-point kick by Westerly’s Ronan Murphy.

In all, the Bears were flagged 15 times for 153 yards, including six personal fouls and one unsportsmanlike conduct penalty.

“It’s very out of character. It’s something we have to work on and make sure those things don’t happen,” Stonington coach A.J. Massengale said. “We have a lot to do with those kinds of things. That’s not who we are.”

The hurdling penalty was assesed on the ensuing kickoff. It resulted in poor field position for the Bears — the drive started on their own 22. The possession netted 4 yards — the Bears were forced to go for it on fourth and 1 from their 31, down two scores with about seven minutes left, and they came up short.

Westerly (6-6) took over at Stonington’s 27, and Jon Brutcher scored four plays later on a 25-yard counter to put the Bulldogs up 28-7 with 6:58 left.

Stonington (3-7) later scored on a 43-yard pass from Marco Tedeschi to Jared Rudzinsky. Rios scored Westerly’s final TD on a 3-yard run with 2:39 left.

Westerly sophomore linebacker Derek Mason intercepted a pass late in the game.

Rios, who was also a force at defensive end, was named the WBLQ MVP of the game. He said the team was ready when Turano went down.

“We have depth. We practice and practice with everyone, the 1s and the 2s, that is just how we roll,” Rios said. “We played with our heart. I just want to say mission complete.”

Holloway said everyone worked to make up for Turano’s absence.

“We are a family and nobody is better family than Westerly,” Holloway said. “Everybody picked up the slack; it was everyone’s responsibility. Everybody blocked harder, we moved the ball better.”

Westerly senior Max Davis, who plays on both sides of the line and was a particular nuisance for the Bears as a defensive tackle, said the team was not down after Turano’s injury.

“We just can’t be demoralized over one guy,” Davis said. “We have depth, even when one of our players goes down someone else steps up and fills his place.”


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