Seekonk can't capitalize on opportunities vs. Apponequet
H.S. Football: Apponequet 35, Seekonk 20
SEEKONK - Saturday’s battle of undefeated South Coast Conference teams came down to which team made less mistakes.
That team was the Apponequet Lakers.
Seekonk couldn’t take advantage of its opportunities and struggled at times on both sides of the ball in a 35-20 loss to Apponequet, the first-place team in the Blue (Large) Division of the SCC.
“I’m proud of the kids. They came out and battled in a hard-fought game,” Seekonk coach Vernon Crawford said after the game. “When you’re playing another undefeated team, the little things matter, the small details. We got a lot of work ahead of us but the kids are making strides. We had our opportunities, we just got to do better.”
Lineman Jacob McKitchen gave the Warriors a huge opportunity to tie the game before halftime. Trailing 21-14 with a minute left in the half, he leaped and intercepted a pass from Apponequet quarterback Chace Gorman and rumbled about 20 yards down the Lakers’ 33-yard line.
The Warriors took over with 57.1 seconds left in the half, and on the third play of the drive, quarterback JT Moran hit Cam Silva on a flea-flicker pass down to the 2-yard line. The Warriors were called for a false start on the next play, pushing them back to the 7-yard line and forcing coach Crawford to take the team’s final timeout instead of a 10-second clock runoff on an offensive penalty. With 23.3 seconds left in the half, Moran hit Nathan Clarke for a gain of four, but the receiver was unable to get out of bounds, and Moran was flagged for intentional grounding while trying to spike the ball out of the shotgun formation as the Warriors rushed to the line. With 1.1 seconds left in the half and the clock starting on the referee’s whistle, the Warriors were unable to score on their last pay and went into halftime trailing 21-14.
The Lakers got the ball to start the second half and put together an 11-play, 51-yard scoring drive to take a 14-point lead. The Warriors struck again early in the fourth quarter on a 10-play, 45-yard touchdown drive that Moran capped with a 9-yard TD pass to Robert Sheahan with 10:56 left in the game to cut the deficit to 28-20.
Seekonk’s defense stepped up on the ensuing drive, forcing an Apponequet punt. But the offense stalled on a three-and-out, and the Lakers needed just three plays to march 33 yards for the game-clinching score that extended the lead to 35-20.
“The No. 1 thing we need to do is work on the small details,” Crawford said. “Pass protection, tackling, I could go on with multiple things. They were the better team today, but we know what we have to work on and we’ll use it to get better.”
REPORTERTODAY.COM MVP: Receiver Nathan Clarke was his usual outstanding self on Saturday, hauling in eight passes for 116 yards and throwing some big blocks in the running game.
BIG PICTURE: The Warriors (3-1) are still undefeated in the SCC Gold (Small) Division, carrying a 1-0 conference record after last weekend’s win over Fairhaven. Seekonk will face Wareham next weekend with the opportunity to run its SCC Gold record to 2-0 heading into big conference games with Bourne and Case. The Lakers (3-0) are 1-0 against Blue (Large) Division schools after beating Old Rochester last weekend and still have Somerset Berkley, GNB Voc-Tech and Dighton-Rehoboth left on their schedule.
APPONEQUET COACH ZANE FYFE: “Seekonk is a very good team. They throw the ball well and can move the ball downfield quickly. Hats off to them for a good game.”
OFFENSE STALLS FOR FIRST TIME THIS SEASON: The Warriors came into Saturday’s game averaging 38 points per game in their three victories but managed only 20 against Apponequet. Seekonk ran for 114 yards, but 66 of them came on two big plays, and Moran was sacked four times and pressured several more. “Offensively, we weren’t as balanced as we’d like to be,” Crawford said. “JT was resilient. He stood in there and took a lot of hits, more than normal. We got to clean that up.” Aside from their scoring drive, the Warriors had a total of minus-one yards of offense on their other three second-half possessions.
TRICK PLAYS: The flea-flicker pass game the Warriors a scoring opportunity before halftime but it was hardly the only big trick play of the day. A hook-and-ladder play set up Seekonk’s second touchdown of the day. On second down from Seekonk’s 47-yard line, Moran hit Clarke for a gain of five, but as the defense zeroed in on Clarke, he pitched it back to Jack Murphy, who sped down the sideline to the Apponequet 13-yard line. He ran it in the endzone on the net play. Moran also had a perfectly-executed pooch punt late in the first half. The Warriors had their offense on the field deep in their own territory on fourth down with Moran taking the snap in the shotgun formation and punting it away. Apponequet had a successful trick play as well. Senior lineman Hunter Cesario gained seven yards on a fake punt to extend Apponequet’s opening drive of the second half.
SEEKONK STATS: Moran finished 15-34 for 218 yards and two TDs. Murphy gained 71 yards on the ground as the Warriors leading rusher, 35 of which came on the hook and ladder play.
SOMERSET STATS: Gorman was extremely efficient for the Lakers, going 9-12 for 125 yards and a touchdown. On the ground, fullback Kevin Hughes ran for 121 yards and two TDs on 22 carries. Receiver Tyler Desrosiers caught three passes for 71 yards.
QUICK SLANTS: The Warriors drove deep into Apponequet territory at the end of the first quarter but came away empty-handed. … Junior Robbie Lebeau scored Seekonk’s first touchdown of the day on a 24-yard pass from Moran. He hauled in a short pass on the right side and sprinted down the sideline, cutting back at the 5-yard line to evade a defender on his way to paydirt. Lebeau had three touches for 90 yards before leaving the game with an injury. … The Seekonk cheerleaders again delivered an outstanding halftime performance. Check out our Facebook page, The Reporter, and for a video. … Crawford called Apponequet “a playoff team” and added that with the strength of the SCC, the Lakers or whoever wins the Blue and Gold conference could go deep in the playoffs. … Fyfe said his team is happy being 3-0 but cautious knowing that Somerset Berkley and Dighton-Rehoboth loom ahead. “We’re in a good place and they feel good about where we are and what we’ve done, but we have a lot we need to work on.” … Gamble French was very busy on defense. It seemed like he was in on 90% of Seekonk’s tackles, along with Jack Murphy. … From the injury irony department: Gamble, who wears No. 34, and Collin Harrison, Apponequet’s No. 34, were both down on the field at the same time in the third quarter dealing with cramps on a warm early-fall day. … Longtime New Bedford Standard-Times sports scribe Ed Collins was on hand to cover the Lakers for SouthCoast Varsity.com. No one writes cleaner copy than Ed.
UP NEXT: Both teams are in action on the road Friday with Seekonk traveling to Wareham with a 4 p.m. start and Apponequet going to GNB Voc-Tech for a 6:30 p.m. start.
APPONEQUET 35, SEEKONK 20
Apponequet 14 7 7 7-35
Seekonk 0 14 0 6-20
A: Collin Harrison 54 run (Logan Tsika kick), 6:48
A: Tyler Desrosiers 26 pass from Chace Gorman (Logan Tsika kick), 2:48
S: Robbie Lebeau 24 pass from JT Moran (Stephen Prew kick), 8:10
S: Jack Murphy 13 run (Stephen Prew kick), 6:11
A: Cole Dixon 48 run (Logan Tsika kick), 2:38
A: Kevin Hughes 3 run (Logan Tsika kick), 6:35
S: Robert Sheahan 9 pass from JT Moran (pass failed), 10:56
A: Kevin Hughes 20 run (Logan Tsika kick), 5:24
Rushing: A - Kevin Hughes 22-121, Bret Dorsey 3-9, Collin Harrison 7-60, Chace Gorman 4-6, Cole Dixon 4-57, Hunter Cesario 1-7; S - Jack Murphy 11-71, JT Moran 8-6, Nathan Clarke 1-7, Robbie Lebeau 1-31.
Passing: A - Chace Gorman 9-12-125-1-1; S - JT Moran15-34-218-2-0
Receiving: A - Kevin Hughes 1-12, Tyler Desrosiers 3-71, Collin Harrison 2-26, Michael Henricksen 2-10, Brett Dorsey 1-6; S - Nathan Clarke 8-116, Jack Murphy 1-7, Robert Sheahan 1-9, Cameron Silva 1-30, Robbie Lebeau 2-59, Will Smith 2-(-3).