WOOD RIVER JCT. — Cameron Panciera scored four touchdowns and rushed for 155 yards as Chariho High topped Exeter-West Greenwich, 32-20, in the 2008 Thanksgiving Day contest.
Panciera, who was coming off a knee injury from his junior season, scored on runs of 19, 2, 2 and 58 yards as Chariho closed the season with its third straight win to finish 3-8.
“The offensive line did a good job,” Panciera said. “I was able to lower my shoulder a couple of times and bounce off a couple of tacklers. Most of the time it was the line just opening up those big holes and I was able to read the plays.”
EWG fumbled the ball away on its first play from scrimmage at the Chariho 48-yard line.
Chariho scored on that possession when quarterback Jake Dolbey found Nick Benoit open on an 8-yard slant for the touchdown.
EWG was unable to handle the ensuing kickoff, and Vance Dewey recovered the fumble.
Three plays later, Panciera scored on a 19-yard run to give the Chargers a 12-0 lead with 6:52 left in the first quarter.
“The guys up front gave him seams,” Chariho coach Mike Kelly said. “What was nice today was he ran through tackles and kept this balance, and that’s huge.
“As the season went on, he began to realize that he might be a tailback, but he’s a big kid and he ran with authority. The last three or four games he ran hard, and when you run hard the openings happen for you and you don’t have to find them.”
Al Georgio (17 carries, 105 yards) scored on a 4-yard run, and Adam Sweeney had a 3-yard TD run. Sweeney’s run made it 26-14 in the third quarter.
EWG appeared to score on its next possession on a 50-yard reverse, but the play was called back on a holding penalty.
Panciera scored on a 58-yard counter on Chariho’s next possession to make it 32-14 with 3:36 left in the third quarter.
EWG quarterback Zach Hornoff completed 9 of 17 passes for 89 yards. The senior was an effective rusher for the Scarlet Knights during the season, but did not have a carry against Chariho — EWG faced East Providence in a Division IV playoff game five days later.
“We told him — no defense and no running. Pass the ball and make the handoff. He will be at full speed Tuesday,” EWG coach Mike Messier said.
Kelly’s said Hornoff’s limited ability helped the Chargers.
“They were in a tough spot there. The kid is their best weapon without a question,” Kelly said. “They’ve got a playoff game on Tuesday, and as much as Thanksgiving’s great, that’s what their focus is on and that’s where it shold be.
“And you know, he played, but he was one dimensional and defensively that helped us.”
EWG beat North Providence in the semifinal, 22-18, and beat Middletown, 26-6, for the title. The Scarlet Knights also won the D-IV Super Bowl in 2009, and finished runner-up in 2010.
Dolbey won the most valuable player award by H.D. Randall Realtors. The top linemen were Chariho’s Antonio Asermelly and EWG’s Fredy Seymour; top defensive players, Chariho’s Zack Edwards and EWG’s Rob Prayshaw; top offensive player, Georgio of EWG and Chariho’s Panciera.
The top special team players were Joe Ferle of EWG and Chariho’s Benoit.