PAWTUCKET — Tolman used a suffocating defense to shut down Chariho High and topped the Chargers, 24-0, Friday night in the Division III semifinals at Max Read Field.
No. 3 Chariho struggled to maintain drives throughout the game, and No. 2 Tolman was able to take advantage.
Chariho had minus-32 yards rushing at the half. The Chargers only tried two running plays in the third quarter, and one of them was intended to be a pass off a reverse.
“It’s really tough when you can’t sustain a drive. It puts special teams and the defense in a tough place,” Chariho coach Nick Russo said. “Tolman did a lot of things well. At 24-0, we definitely didn’t coach well enough. We have to look back at how we prepared during the week.
“We have to execute on the field, and as coaches we need to put players in positions where they can succeed.”
Chariho (6-4) looked like it might seize the early momentum when Tom O’Horo came up with an interception on Tolman’s first offensive play. O’Horo returned it to the Tolman 33-yard line.
A 14-yard pass from Zoot Boschwitz to John Haxton gave the Chargers a first down at the Tolman 21-yard line, but the drive died there. Boschwitz was sacked for a 10-yard loss on third down to end the threat.
Tolman scored on its next possession, moving 74 yards in 12 plays, capped by a 9-yard run by Cute Today.
The Tigers took a 12-0 lead with 11 seconds remaining in the half when Jordan Cooper found Aaron Carrion open in the right flat from 3 yards out. The drive started when the Tigers came up with an interception with 1:50 left in the half.
Tolman (8-2) made it 18-0 with 9:07 left in the third quarter when Cooper found Isai Prince wide open down the middle of the field for a 42-yard scoring play.
Tolman’s final TD was a 12-yard run by Elijah Osei with 1:22 left in the third quarter. The drive was set up when a poor punt snap left Chariho punter Andrew Havens no option but to run the ball. He lost 9 yards and Tolman took over at Chariho’s 22-yard line.
“Football is a complementary game. When you make mistakes on offense, you make mistakes on special teams, it puts the defense in a tough spot,” Russo said. “And it makes it look like they did a lot worse than they did at the end of the day.”
Haxton broke up a number of pass plays from his defensive back spot. Coval Wild and Sean Goulet combined for a sack. O’Horo broke up two screen plays while fighting off a defender.
Tolman will play in the Division III Super Bowl on Nov. 23 at 4 p.m. at Cranston Stadium. Chariho is off until Thanksgiving, when it travels to East Greenwich.