WESTERLY — Coming off back-to-back losses, including a defeat in the Division II quarterfinals last week, and with its big Thanksgiving Day rivalry game looming, Westerly High had plenty of reasons to be a bit unenthusiastic about Friday night's D-II consolation game.
But once the Bulldogs returned to practice this week, coach Duane Maranda said, they got back to the business of football. And they took care of business in their final home game of the season.
Rocco Cillino rushed for 155 yards and a touchdown and Westerly scored on its first five possessions en route to a 35-20 victory over Rogers at Augeri Field.
"We wanted to get to seven wins and try to get the momentum back and get our confidence back a little bit," Maranda said. "We prepared for it the same way, just like it was any other game," Maranda said. "Once our kids got on the practice field on Tuesday, they realized that this was a blessing to be able to come back on Augeri Field and possibly leave winning a football game."
Said Cillino, who did his damage on just 16 carries: "We wanted to win the game. Putting them away early was our best bet because we wanted to try and get our starters out and stay as healthy as we can, and I think we did a pretty good job of that. But our main goal was to win the game."
The Bulldogs (7-3) set the tone on their first possession, driving 65 yards on nine plays. The drive was capped on a third-and-18 play from the Rogers 25: Anthony Durante threw a 25-yard touchdown to Mark Gervasini.
After a three-and-out by the Vikings (4-5), Westerly needed just four plays to go up 14-0. This time, Xavier Ledbetter tossed a 7-yard scoring pass to Joe Fusaro, who made a nice leaping catch. Cillino's 28-yard run keyed the 63-yard drive.
"We moved the ball really well," Maranda said.
Rogers closed to 14-6 on Kalil Jones' 30-yard touchdown run on the first play of the second quarter, but it was all Westerly after that. The Bulldogs scored 21 unanswered points to lead 35-6.
Cillino scored from 15 yards out, Durante had an 8-yard scoring run and Derek Mason ran it in from 7 yards out. Kicker Chad Mayne finished a perfect 5-for-5 on extra points.
The only blemish on the victory was penalties. The Bulldogs were flagged 11 times for 150 yards, including, late in the first half, a personal foul and taunting penalty on the same play after which a Westerly player was ejected.
Rogers went from having a first and 10 from its 47-yard line to a first and goal at the Westerly 6. But with time for only one more play, Vikings quarterback Max Newsome threw incomplete and the Bulldogs were unhurt.
"They were talking to us; we were talking back," Cillino said. "We just started using our heads and cleaned it up in the second half. None of those stupid penalties."
Maranda didn't want to discuss the flags at all.
"We know what we have to do, so why focus on the negatives?" he said.
Westerly next plays at its annual Thanksgiving Day rival, Stonington, on Nov. 28 at 10 a.m.