Wet weather makes it tough night for Skippers
The seven fumbles and one interception in the first 24 minutes of the North Kingstown High School football game against East Providence last Friday night were a good indication that the weather was definitely a factor for both teams.
Just three plays into the game, East Providence quarterback Nathan Lovett recovered a botched North Kingstown snap, but then on the next play the Skippers regained possession of the ball when a Lovett-Jonathon Woodley handoff slipped between the two players and islander Brian McDevitt jumped on it.
"Everyone was having trouble holding on to the ball because it was so wet, and when they dropped the ball, it was a quick instinctive reaction. I just fell on it," he said.
Head coach Keith Kenyon said McDevitt is having a lot of those instinctive reactions this year, emerging as one of the top players on the team.
"McDevitt is one of those kids who always plays well. He almost never has an off night," Kenyon said. "He has a tremendous work ethic and you will never see him take a play off. He is such a pleasure to coach."
North almost lost the ball again with 1:19 remaining in the first quarter on what appeared to be a Skippers fumble, but quarterback Dave D'Errico was ruled down by contact. Two plays later, Ryan Morris put NK on the board with a touchdown on a play action pass from D'Errico. The point-after kick was no good and North took a 6-0 lead.
"When we won the coin toss, we elected to kickoff in the first half so we would have the wind at our back. We knew we needed to get on the board first, and so we thought we had pretty good momentum from doing that," Kenyon said.
The Townies took over on their own 35-yard line after a Ryan Morris kickoff. Morris was one of the few players who looked unaffected by the weather, as he maintained good distances on his punts and kickoffs all night.
"Morris has an outstanding foot for punting and it is amazing because he has been playing with a nagging injury all year, but you never hear him complain about it," the coach said.
Eight plays and 65 yards after the Skippers opened the scoring, the Townies evened the score on a 17-yard run by Lovett with 9:30 remaining in the half.
The extra point failed when the Townies kicker lost his footing on the slick turf and North got a hand on it for the block.
"Our Achilles heal all year has been that when we are able to score, we leave the door open for the other team to come right back and score against us, and that is exactly what happened in that game," Kenyon said.
The two teams spent the next six minutes trading punts until islander John Perrotti intercepted a Lovett pass with just over three minutes left in the half. Despite an 8-yard D'Errico scramble on thirdand ten, the Skippers were unable to come up with the first down. After a time out and an unsuccessful fourth down conversion attempt, the Townies took over on the 50- yard line.
"We had a penalty there that we are still trying to figure out. We watched it on tape, and we think we know what he was seeing, but it definitely was not a penalty," Kenyon said. "That really cost us, because it was a 40-yard swing on that play. Instead of having a firstand ten on their 18-yard line, we were back on our own 40."
NK recovered a Townie fumble on their own 45-yard line, but after gaining a first down failed to hold onto the wet ball and turned it back over to East Providence.
A Lovett pass set EP up on the 11-yard line with a first down and 18 seconds to score before the end of the half, but after a loss of yardage on a run and two incomplete passes, the Townies were forced into a 29-yard field goal attempt. The clock ran down as East Providence mishandled a snap on the kick attempt and the Skippers took a 6-6 tie into the locker room at the half.
"Rory Farrell and John Perrotti made that final tackle in the half that kept us tied going into halftime, so we felt pretty good going into the second half. We made some adjustments and felt like the momentum was going in the right direction," the coach said.
The start of the second half was almost identical to the first half start. The ball was blown off the tee by the wind and the rain, which had given the homecoming court a brief respite during halftime, returned in droves.
A blocked punt at the end of North's first drive of the second half positioned the Townies on the Skippers 35-yard line, but tough defense by the home team kept EP off the board.
An 11-play, seven-minute drive culminated in a 2-yard touchdown run by Lovett followed by a twopoint conversion put the Townies ahead 14-6 as time ran down in the third quarter.
A fumble recovery by Perrotti on the East Providence 12-yard line on the first play of the fourth quarter gave the Skippers their best field position of the night. It took just two runs by D'Errico to put NK in the end zone, but they could not convert on the two-point attempt, giving the Townies a 14- 12 advantage.
The final score of the game came four minutes later when Cord Lopez slipped on the wet turf and opened up a hole for Corey Blair to gain 13 yards for the first down and then he scored on a 3-yard run. A two-point run by Blair gave the Townies a 22-12 lead with 7:20 remaining in the game.
"He (Lopez) was in the right place on the zone coverage, but his feet just came out from under him on the wet grass and the guy put a nice move on him for a big gain," the coach said.
Kenyon told his team after the game that they were so close to being a very good football team. "It is the small things that keep tripping us up. We need to protect the ball and not allow turnovers and not make coverage mistakes on defense. Those are the things that make the difference between being a good football team, which we are, and a very good team," he said.
The Skippers have not given up on their playoff hopes. "We are going to try to win every game on the way out, and if we don't make the playoffs, we have set the table for next year," Kenyon concluded.
In other Homecoming week action, Ashley Smith, Catie Kelly, Kyra Reppe, Sam Andreozzi and Kelly Wooley dominated against the juniors in the Powderpuff football finals for the 24-13 win. Four of the girls have played together since they were freshman and also won the finals as sophomores.