WOOD RIVER JCT. — Bottom line: Chariho High couldn't get anything going offensively against Tolman.
Credit a strong Tigers defense. But also blame the Chargers' inability to execute.
The result was a 26-0 Tolman victory in a Division III game on a sunny Friday afternoon at Chariho.
The numbers tell the story for the Chargers: 57 total yards of offense, minus-5 rushing, three interceptions.
"I'd say that we just have to do pretty much everything better. We didn't execute anything, so, everything," first-year coach Nick Russo said. "We were pretty prepared game plan-wise. We made some adjustments during the course of the game, but we just didn't execute."
Tolman coach Jason DeLawrence, meanwhile, praised the play of his defense, which he called "absolutely lights out."
"We're big and strong up front," he said. "They did what they needed to do and I'm so proud of them.
"We're very difficult to run on with my big boys up front, and they tried to throw it and I've got good athletes back there, too."
Indeed, Chariho (2-2, 2-1 Division III) passed the ball 24 times but completed just eight. One of the three Tiger interceptions led to a Tolman touchdown. Leandro Depina had two of the Tiger picks.
Tolman (3-1, 2-1 with two shutouts) also put the ball in the air — with some success. Quarterback Jordan Cooper was 7 of 14 for 126 yards and two touchdowns, both to Danny Akinsheye (16 and 18 yards). He was intercepted once — by John Haxton.
"I've got two long, lanky, 6-1 receivers out there (Akinsheye and Isai Prince) that can catch the ball and can fly down the field," DeLawrence said. "And I got a real good running back (Jemarus Godette) in the back so it's like pick your poison. They were kind of putting the box on me so I had to let my boys go over the top. And they made plays."
Both teams struggled with drops early, thanks to the sun. But once the Tigers started looking Akinsheye's way, they were able to move the ball.
Akinsheye's first TD catch made it 6-0 late in the first quarter. In the second period, Tolman put together an eight-play, 71-yard drive that was highlighted by Akinsheye's juggling catch of a Cooper throw that went for 37 yards on the drive's first play.
Cooper capped the march by floating up an 18-yard scoring pass to Akinsheye with 3:30 left in the first half to increase the lead to 12-0.
Chariho's first-half possessions went as follows: Three-and-out; three-and-out; one play followed by an interception; three-and-out; five plays (one first down), punt; an 11-yard loss on a draw play, halftime. Minus-16 total yards for the two quarters.
The Chargers looked to make something happen when they opened the second half with the ball. A 7-yard completion to Josh Pater gave them a first down at the 44. But later, on fourth and 8 at their own 46, an incomplete pass ended the drive.
Tolman responded by scoring in four plays, including runs of 19 and 15 yards by Godette. Alex Medeiros ran it in from 8 yards out to make it 18-0. Cooper's pass to L.J. Benton made it 20-0.
"We've just gotta execute in those situations," Russo said of the fourth-down attempt. "We practice situational football all the time. We just didn't execute today."
Aaron Carrion scored Tolman's final TD on a 2-yard run with 8:53 left in the game. Godette finished with 84 yards rushing on 13 carries.
Lineman Sean Goulet was a bright spot for Chariho. He had 1½ sacks, a fumble recovery and ran down Medeiros on a sweep to limit the play to a 3-yard gain. As for the offense, Haxton had three catches for 26 yards, including one for 17, Chariho's longest play of the day.
The Chargers next play at Smithfield on Oct. 12 at 10:30 a.m.