The 3rd-seeded Pilgrim Patriots took a tough 14-10 loss to the 1st-seeded Central Falls Warriors during the Division III Super Bowl on Saturday afternoon at Cranston Stadium.
Despite the defeat, Pats head coach Blake Simpson has had one heck of a first-year as head coach.
“It’s been a blessing,” Simpson said. “To graduate from Pilgrim in 2008 and to be here as the head coach and go to a Super Bowl my first year, it’s absolutely huge and I can’t thank my guys enough, especially our seniors, who’ve toughed it out in some tough, bad seasons, so I just want to thank them.”
Central Falls struck less than two minutes into the second quarter when on a second-and-11, senior star wide receiver Dutchie Arroyo took a direct snap and ran down the left sideline 72 yards for a touchdown. After that, senior Warren Smith added the extra point and put the Warriors up 7-0.
Then with 4:21 remaining in the second quarter, Central Falls added to its lead when junior quarterback Luis Gonzalez tossed a dart through the middle to wide receiver Jon Valencia for a 71-yard score and that gave the Warriors a 14-0 edge.
Then, the Pilgrim offense got on track.
On a third-and-5 from its own 43, Pats junior quarterback Michael Borges passed to tight end Connor Fallon for a 32-yard pickup. Three plays after that, junior Demitri Ayres rushed up the gut 16 yards and into pay dirt and got the Pats on the board with 1:55 remaining in the first half. Borges then ran in a keeper for the two-point conversion and pulled Pilgrim within 14-8.
The teams battled in a scoreless third quarter before things got interesting in the fourth.
Early in the final frame, Borges heaved a bomb to Fallon and the junior took it 68 yards to the Central Falls 2. Next, Ayres rushed forward a yard to the 1 on first down, but that’s as close as the Pats would get. Pilgrim had a mistake during the second-down snap, and then, on fourth down, Borges had his pass to running back Cesar Pascual broken up by Warriors linebacker Omar Soto.
“For us, it was just a miscue on the snap,” Simpson said. “We tried going for a QB sneak and I think we just tried moving before securing the football, so that kind of lost us a down there, and then, they were fast and physical up front and we just didn’t match them unfortunately in that situation.“
The Pilgrim defense stopped Central Falls three straight times following that and forced them into a fourth-and-11 from their own 1. That’s when Arroyo tried for a fake, and rushed to his right before he was brought down by Pilgrim’s Jamon Van Heyningen for a safety, which got the Pats two points and the ball with 3:21 left to play, trailing 14-10.
Pilgrim junior wide receiver Ethan Laramee returned the ensuing kickoff to the Central Falls 39 and a personal foul against the Warriors was added onto the end of the play which put the ball at the Central Falls 22.
The Warriors then blitzed and sacked Borges on second and third down before the quarterback was blitzed again, forcing him to overthrow Jaron Petrozzi in the endzone on a fourth-and-11 and that sealed the deal.
It wasn’t the result the Pats wanted, but they battled with the best of them.
“To play a team like Central Falls, who’s fast and explosive offensively and to hold them to only 14 points, when they’ve averaged 27 all year, it’s a testament to our defense, and it’s a testament to coach (Shane) Kelly,” Simpson said. “He’s got the perfect game plan every week and we executed it as best we could. Those two broken plays, that was the ball game there.”