Stonington Borough, CT
Mystic Chamber of Commerce
Noank Historical Society
WARWICK — A blocked extra point after its fourth touchdown was about the only thing that went wrong for the Westerly High football team in the first half of Saturday’s Division II-A game against Toll Gate.
The Bulldogs’ built a 27-0 halftime lead, dominated the Titans for the duration and cruised to a 40-14 win.
Toll Gate (0-5, 0-4 Division II-A) looked over-matched when Westerly’s varsity players were on the field.
“I feel for him (Toll Gate head coach Matthew Mancuso), they haven’t won a game in almost three years,” Westerly coach Chris Wriedt said.
“We came in with the idea that if we executed our game plan, which we did, we shouldn’t have too much difficulty.”
Toll Gate has been outscored 194-46 in its five losses this season and last won a game in 2011.
The Bulldogs (2-3, 2-2 Division II-A) were very basic in the way they attacked the Titans.
Westerly threw the ball just six times, including a fake punt, but still managed to score a touchdown on five of its first six drives.
Senior captain Tom McGuire started the scoring with a 6-yard dive through the middle to cap an 11-play 52-yard opening drive.
McGuire led Westerly with 58 yards rushing on 14 carries.
The next two Westerly TDs came on a 5-yard run by Jacee Hamelin and a 1-yard dive by Drew Widdifield.
Hamelin capped the first-half scoring with a 12-scoring run on a sweep play.
“The offense was a little better today, obviously not a great caliber opponent,” Wriedt said. “We struggled a little bit last week against a good opponent (Woonsocket) and made up for it today against an opponent not as good.
“We stuck with the game plan, which was to run the football. Our line play was much better today.”
The Bulldogs opened the third quarter with a 51-yard scoring drive capped by a 10-yard Widdifield run, which made the score 34-0, and marked the end of the game for the majority of Westerly’s varsity players.
Westerly’s defense had given up almost nothing to Toll Gate.
The Titans managed just 16 yards on 15 plays and no first downs by the time Westerly’s varsity began to exit the game early in the third quarter.
“I thought our defense was really solid today,” Wriedt said. “We over-matched them a bit, but what we’re looking for is to improve upon last week and have people lined up in the spot they’re supposed to be in.
“Occasionally, you’re going to be over-matched physically, but if you’re where you belong then you’re doing your job.”
Toll Gate scored on its only play of the third quarter, a 73-yard Joshua Thibeault run, and made the score 34-6.
Derek Orr put the Bulldogs up 40-6 with a 1-yard TD run in the fourth quarter and the Titans capped the scoring on their next drive to bring the game to its 40-14 final.
Clayton Minnich carried the ball six times for 50 yards and had 56 yards receiving on three catches.
Hamelin had an interception to go with his two rushing TDs.
Westerly has now won two of its last three games with its only loss a 12-7 setback at the hands of undefeated Woonsocket.
“We felt last week that if this (Woonsocket) is the best team in our division then how bad are we?” Wriedt asked. “It was 12-7, we felt good about it, it was a moral victory, we built on it this week and we hope it continues.”
McGuire didn’t want to think about building momentum.
“Right now, we’re trying to focus on next week,” the senior captain said. “We’re a 2-2 team, so we’re not anything special. We need to play another good game next week. We were a little sloppy today and we need to correct those mistakes.”
Westerly plays another winless team Saturday at 7 p.m. at Stonington High but East Providence, being a Division I team, should pose much more of a challenge than Toll Gate.
The Townies are 0-5 but lost by just six points (27-21) to Division II-A leading Woonsocket in the first week of the season.
“We know they’re Division I and we know they’re going to be good,” McGuire said. “We just need to play our hardest and that’s all we can ask for.”
Matt Moretta and Tyren Gamble missed the game with injuries.
Moretta’s status remains uncertain, but Gamble is expected to return in the next week or two.