Stonington Borough, CT
Mystic Chamber of Commerce
Noank Historical Society
WOOD RIVER JCT. — A few big plays and some turnovers kept the Chariho High football team at arm’s length for most of Friday’s Division II-A game.
The Chargers hung tough with Mt. Hope, but never got within striking distance in a 24-8 loss.
The Chariho defense turned in a solid effort against the Huskies (3-1, 2-1 Division II-A), with a few notable exceptions.
Mt. Hope’s first drive of the game was one of those exceptions.
Just one play after a 47-yard kick return set the Huskies up first-and-10 at the Chariho 46-yard line, senior Jesse Raiola burst straight up the middle of Chariho’s defense for a 47-yard touchdown run, and Mt. Hope went up 7-0 just over a minute into the game.
“We need to get the defense off the field,” Chariho coach Mike Kelly said. “They’re not doing a bad job.
“When you’re somewhat inexperienced, which we are, sometimes they make an assignment mistake and the kid (Raiola) walks into the end zone.”
Chariho’s defense stiffened after the first scoring drive, and was able to force a turnover (a Blake James interception) and a three-and-out on the next two Mt. Hope drives.
The Huskies scored on their last drive of the first half to make the score 10-0, but that drive started on the Charger 31-yard line after a bad punt.
Chariho’s defense came up with three sacks, and Dan Urena and Zach Briggs had one each with the other sack coming as a combination effort from three different players.
“Adam Harvey and Shane Stewart were really around the ball a lot, too, tonight,” Kelly said. “The defense made more strides than the offense, but we’ve still got a ways to go.”
While the Chariho defense turned in a decent effort, the Chargers’ offense had trouble moving the ball, particularly in the first half.
The Chargers managed just three first downs in the first half, and two of those were by penalty.
Kelly said that his team can’t impose its will on other teams with its offensive line as it has in years past.
“That’s been part of it,” he said. “We knew we were going to be a little different team offensively this year. We were going to have to be more balanced. We weren’t going to be able to just knock people off the line of scrimmage and run.”
Kelly took the wraps off a new wrinkle in his offense, one that utilizes more shotgun formations, in the second half to try to jump-start his offense.
The Chargers were able to move the ball a little more effectively in the second half, but also had multiple bad snaps from center, one of which resulted in a turnover, that stalled drives.
“We had some snap issues and these things happen,” Kelly said. “Sometimes the center’s trying so hard to make the block that they don’t settle down and make the snap first.
“You take the fumbles away and the block in the back penalty and we actually moved the ball pretty well in the second half.”
Even with the turnover problems, Kelly said he was encouraged by what he saw out of his new offense and hinted that his team would run it more in the future.
“We had to go with our base stuff (in the first half). We played a little bit of a different system in the second half and you could tell it was new the first couple of drives.
“They seemed to get more confident with it as the game went on and, hopefully, we can build on that,” Kelly said.
The Huskies went ahead 17-0 in the third quarter on a halfback option touchdown pass from Aidan Silva to Jacob Ramos.
Chariho (1-3, 0-3 Division II-A) was driving late in the fourth quarter to potentially cut into the Huskies lead but a strip sack and subsequent 50-yard fumble return set up Mt. Hope 1st-and-goal at the Chariho 1-yard line.
From there, Huskies’ fullback Marcus Goff punched it in to put the game out of reach.
Quarterback Jacob Rousseau showed some of the ability that Kelly hopes will make his new offense successful on the last drive.
Rousseau kept the ball himself on a read-option run and gained 40 yards down to the Mt. Hope 12-yard line.
A play later, Rousseau hit Tyler Bobbin on a quick bubble screen and Chariho was on the board with 1 minute and 55 seconds left.
Rousseau then added the conversion run to bring the score to its 24-8 final.
The Huskies knocked off the Chargers 27-7 in the fourth game of the 2012 season.
“There’s no easy team in this league and maybe the offense will give us a little spark and we’ll be able to find a little rhythm with it,” Kelly said.
The Chargers, still in search of their first league win, host Warwick Veterans Friday at 7 p.m.
The Hurricanes are 3-1 overall and 2-1 in Division II-A including a 28-27 come-from-behind win over Coventry Friday.
The Chargers lost to Coventry 28-0 earlier this season.
Chariho head beaten Warwick Veterans three consecutive years until a 22-13 loss in 2012 ended that winning streak.