Football: Emotional Chargers stun playoff-bound Bulldogs, 7-3

Football: Emotional Chargers stun playoff-bound Bulldogs, 7-3

The Westerly Sun

WOOD RIVER JCT. — This was one messy high school football game, especially for the ninth week of the season.

It featured 17 penalties, three interceptions, eight fumbles (three lost) and questionable calls.

But games against rivals sometimes go that way. Emotion can do crazy things to high school athletes.

And Chariho High rode that emotion to a 7-3 upset win against playoff-bound Westerly High.

Brine Wotherspoon scored the game’s only touchdown, catching a 20-yard pass from quarterback Pat Morkis on third and goal. The play came with 7:02 left in the game.

“It was right above the (defender’s) hand and I caught it. The next thing I saw was Dustin Jarrett coming out of the corner of my eye. He threw a perfect block. I just cut in and went in,” Wotherspoon said of the winning score.

Wotherspoon caught the ball near the right sideline at about the 5-yard line before making the cut off Jarrett’s block.

Westerly did threaten on its next possession, moving to the Chariho 33.

But Chariho defensive back Alexi Fauzey jarred the ball loose from a Westerly receiver on third and 7 and a fourth-down incompletion ended the threat.

It was the first home win for the Chargers, who improved to 2-6 overall and 2-5 in Division II-B. Turns out the game does count in the league standings, too.

“I’m really happy for the kids,” said first-year Chariho coach Rick Martin, a former Westerly assistant. “This wasn’t the coaches. ... That was the guys in between the lines fighting as hard as they could against a team that has a better record and more players. I can’t ask for more.”

Westerly scored on its first drive on a 24-yard field goal by Connor Swain with 4:42 left in the first quarter.

But the drive was stalled by a holding penalty and a personal foul against the Bulldogs, an issue for Westerly of late.

Westerly (5-4, 4-3 II-A) lost two fumbles and threw an interception in its first five possessions. Once again, the Bulldogs played without their top back, injured sophomore Jalen Valentin.

“Once you let a team like that hang around, they start to believe, they start to play well and it becomes a dangerous game,” Westerly coach Duane Maranda said. “My hat goes off to Chariho. They made a big play on the third down. Emotionally, they were locked in.”

Chariho linebacker Tommy Wrzesien had a huge game. He was involved in a lot of plays for the Chargers, including causing a fumble with a nasty hit.

“The defense was just always ready. We didn’t have any jitters; we were calm and collected. We just wanted to play and have fun,” Wrzesien said.

In the first quarter, Chariho receiver Dom Ciringione came down with a pass on fourth and 32 that was initially ruled a touchdown but later waved off by officials.

With seven seconds left in the first half, a Chariho field goal came up short. A Westerly defender picked up the ball near or in the end zone and ran down the far sideline for a possible score when the play was stopped.

Maranda said there was an inadvertent whistle on the play.

In last week’s loss to South Kingstown, the Bulldogs later sent video of three calls that went against them for review by officials. They agreed the calls were incorrect, Maranda said. In the loss to West Warwick, officials lost track of a down during a big Westerly drive in the fourth quarter.

“I understand we have to keep playing, but in a close game a call like that goes a long way,” Maranda said.

Swain and Matt Lynch had interceptions for the Bulldogs and Fauzey had one for the Chargers.

Westerly travels on Friday for its Division II playoff game. Chariho faces an opponent that has not been determined.


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