North Kingstown football players fought hard in loss against Rogers High School
“I feel pretty good about the season so far. It has been a big adjustment for both the players and myself. We have been working really hard and I know it will pay off,” Head Coach John Horsman said.
Rogers jumped on the board early in the first quarter when Kyle DeCosta scored for the Vikings on a 6-yard run. The Vikings’ two-point conversion attempt failed, but gave the visiting team a 6-0 lead.
North appeared to have thwarted the Vikings’ second scoring drive when islander Ben Normand stopped their run, bringing up third-and-two. But, Damien Rodrigo took an 11- yard carry into the end zone on the next play, giving Rogers the 12-0 advantage. Reeyon Watts scored two points on a pitch-out conversion and bumped the lead to 14-0.
“Normand starts at both linebacker and guard and also is our long snapper. He has made great strides this year,” Horsman said.
After a 15-yard kickoff return and a 15-yard gain left the Skippers on the Rogers’ 49-yard line, North quarterback Matt Berglund connected with Aaron Hazard on a screen pass for another 15-yard gain and a North first down.
Under pressure, Berglund had an incomplete pass and then handed off inside for a short loss, bringing up third-and-12 for the Skippers.
Berglund connected with his favorite target of the night, Hazard, on a 39-yard pass to put North’s first points of the night on the board. A failed point after attempt left the Vikings in the lead, 14-6, with just over two minutes remaining in the first quarter.
The Skippers stopped any chance of the Vikings running up the score before halftime when they recovered a Vikings’ fumble on their own 31-yard line with 50 seconds left to play in the half, but were unable to score on the opportunity and went into the locker room down 14-6.
On their second drive of the second half, North narrowed the score gap when Berglund again connected with Hazard on a pass play. The conversion attempt failed, leaving the Skippers down by two with seven minutes to play in the third quarter.
Marcus Morse gave the home team a chance to go ahead when he recovered a Vikings’ fumble on North’s 45-yard line.
A scrambling Berglund, on a North third down and seven, completed a 28-yard pass to Robbie Walker Williams in the end zone to give the Skippers their first lead of the night, 18- 14, with two minutes remaining in the third quarter.
North set up for the two-point conversion play, but a five-yard penalty prior to the snap pushed the Skippers back five yards. Berglund completed a pass to Hazard, but it was ruled out of bounds, leaving the home team up by four at the end of the third quarter.
The turning point in the game came during the fourth quarter, when North faked a punt on a fourth down and two on their own 42-yard line. Alex Sabitoni was brought down for a loss, and the Vikings took over on downs on the Skippers’ 38-yard line.
“We had some momentum and that play seemed to shift it back to Rogers. Our biggest problem was stopping the run,” Horsman said.
The Skippers were unable to stop Rodrigo, who rushed up the middle on five consecutive plays, and finally dove into the end zone to give Rogers the 20-18 lead.
The wide pitch on the twopoint conversion was good, leaving the Skippers down 22-18 and in need of a touchdown to win the game.
Determined to get on the board again before the end of the game, Berglund passed his way down the field to the Vikings’ 36-yard line before the Skippers gave up an interception on a halfback option pass play with 3:45 remaining in the game.
North was unable to get the ball back, and the game ended with a Vikings 22-18 win.
“After the game, I told the kids I was proud of the way they fought back after being down 14- 0,” Horsman said.
The coach said team chemistry, which includes islanders Normand, Eric Holtzman, Shane Farrelly and Will Shepard, is its biggest strength.
“Eric Holtzman is starting for us at offensive line. He works hard and is getting better every day. Shane Farrelly was injured during camp and is just starting to see more action and Will Shepard has been handling some of the kicking duties for us lately,” he said.
He would like to see some improvements to finish out the season, however.
“I would like to see a huge improvement in our special teams play. Mistakes on special teams have cost us too many times this season,” he said.
The team will travel to Cranston West tomorrow, Friday, Oct. 9, at 7 p.m. and will host St. Raphael Academy for the homecoming game on Friday, Oct. 16, at 7 p.m.