WESTERLY — By the middle of the first quarter it was apparent that Westerly High was headed for a big day against Stonington High in the annual Thanksgiving Day game football game between the two schools.
Westerly was in control of the line of scrimmage, big time. The Bulldogs were going up and down the field at will. Defensively, Westerly allowed the Bears few plays that resulted in positive yardage.
By the time it was over, Westerly had overwhelmed the Bears, 61-0. It was the most lopsided score since a 122-0 Bulldogs win in 1917, a game that was not played on Thanksgiving. It was also Westerly’s first home win in the series since 2006.
Westerly (9-2) finished with 533 total yards; Stonington (1-9) managed 50 in the 100th playing of a Thanksgiving Day game between the rivals.
“It was just a mismatch issue, plain and simple,” Stonington coach A.J. Massengale said. “They run the ball, power football. They do a good job with that.”
Westerly’s Tristan Turano rushed for 250 yards on just 11 carries and scored five rushing touchdowns. Turano surpassed the 4,000-yard career mark, finishing with 4,030 yards. He was named the WBLQ Open Mic game MVP.
The five rushing touchdowns are the most scored by a player in the Stonington-Westerly rivalry. Stonington’s Dave Cidale scored four on Armistice Day in 1964. A number of players for both schools have scored three times. The record does not account for the Nov. 16, 1917 game, when Westerly’s Geoff Moore scored seven touchdowns. The account of the game did not say how Moore scored.
Turano also ran in a conversion to give him 31 points in the game, the most by any player on Thanksgiving. Westerly’s Jacob Lamb held the previous record of 24 in 1997. Moore holds the record for all games with 51 in the 1917 contest.
“I am at a loss for words right now,” Turano said. “It went exactly how we planned. It means everything to me. Football has been my life for the past two years. I couldn’t do anything without these kids.
“Since the first game I’ve always thanked my linemen because I wouldn’t be able to do it without them. It’s sad seeing all this come to an end.”
Stonington turned the ball over on its second play; Anthony Ramirez had the fumble recovery for Westerly. Four plays later, Turano scored on a 28-yard run up the middle with just over nine minutes left in the first quarter to make it 7-0
“To get that early turnover and punch it in was huge,” Westerly coach Duane Maranda said. “Once that happens, we start to believe in ourselves. Plus, coming off the Woonsocket game [a loss in the D-II semifinals] when we were up 21-2, we knew we had to keep our foot to the gas the entire game.”
Westerly made it 14-0 when Peter Fusaro scored on a 3-yard run with 6:16 left in the first quarter. The two-play, 34-yard drive was set up by a 29-yard punt return by Jon Brutcher.
Westerly’s next possession resulted in a three-play, 65-yard drive that was capped by a 3-yard Turano TD run. Rocco Cillino’s 49-yard sprint on a counter set up the score.
Stonington fumbled it away on its next possession, with Trent Lamb recovering this time.
Turano went 40 yards up the middle on the first play after the turnover to make it 28-0 with 50 seconds left in the first quarter.
In the second quarter, Westerly mishandled a Stonington punt to give the Bears the ball at Westerly’s 25-yard line. Stonington moved to the Westerly 14 and had a fourth and 9. A pass completion went to the 4-yard line, but a fumble recovered by Westerly’s Anthony Durante gave the ball back to the Bulldogs. It was Stonington’s third fumble of the half.
On the next play, Turano went 96 yards up the middle for a TD to increase the lead to 35-0 with 4:40 left in the first half — Nick Lauzon kicked the extra point. Westerly had scored touchdowns on three consecutive offensive plays.
Turano’s long run fell 2 yards short of the all-time record TD run of 98 yards by Westerly’s R.J. Travisano in 2009.
Josh Lacerte closed out the first half by recovering his own fumble in the end zone to make it 41-0.
Westerly had 14 carries for 287 yards in the first half, averaging 20.5 per carry. Stonington had 28 yards on 24 carries, averaging 1.1 yards per attempt.
“Up front, we really were able to control the line of scrimmage,” Maranda said. “It allowed us to do some other things. Our guys stopped the run first.”
In the second half, Turano scored on a 27-yard run with 9:59 remaining in the third quarter, his final carry of the day and 35th touchdown of the season.
Later in the quarter, Brutcher scored on a 1-yard run, and Jalen Valentin scored from 41 yards away.
Nate Miller was Stonington’s top runner, finishing with 42 yards on 17 carries.
Stonington still leads the all-time series between the two schools, 74-68-17. Westerly leads the Thanksgiving series, 47-44-9.