Photo: James Patterson (#35) blocks for Alex Givins-Perry (#7)
drop fifth straight to Pioneers
Givins-Perry, Flanigan star in loss
By Steev Riccardo. Patriot staff photos; more follow
Webster – The Bartlett Indians could not overcome an early deficit and were beaten for the fifth straight year by the Southbridge Pioneers 28-20 in a game which not only saw some great plays, but also its share of controversy.
It was the 92nd meeting between these two archrivals and you got just what you expected: a hard fought battle with both teams fighting to the final whistle.
The Pioneers put together an impressive ten-play, seven minute scoring drive on their first possession to take a quick 6-0 lead. The Indians' Akeem Belnavis blocked the extra point attempt, which was an early sign of just how competitive this contest would be.
The Indians were forced to punt from deep in their own territory on their first possession and were the victims of a blocked punt, which was recovered and taken into the end zone by the Pioneers Felix Melendez.
Indians Junior running back Alex Givins-Perry got the Indians on the board with a 5-yard touchdown run with 8:54 left in the second quarter. Matt Pepin’s extra point made it 12-7 and the Bartlett crowd finally had something to cheer about.
However the celebration didn’t last long as the Pioneers came right back with another long drive and made it 20-7 with 4:18 left in the first half on an 8-yard run by Emilio Torres.
The Indians were then victimized by a questionable call late in the first half when Akeem Belnavis appeared to be down when the ball squirted loose inside the Pioneers 5-yard line. The referees had a long discussion before finally ruling that it was a fumble, which killed the Indians' drive and allowed the Pioneers to take the 13-point lead into the locker room.
James Patterson accidently takes out a referee
The Indians did what they had to do to start the second half by driving all the way down the field only to have a Ricky Spooner pass picked off in the end zone, and for the second straight time a turnover ended a drive deep in Pioneer territory.
Torres then ignited the visitors with a 55-yard run that led to the last score for the Pioneers, giving them a commanding 28-7 lead late in the third quarter.
The Indians were not about to roll over though and came right back with a score as junior quarterback Ricky Spooner found Belnavis for a 23-yard score. Pepin added the extra point and it was 28-14.
Sophomore Linebacker Neil Flanigan, who played an exceptional game for the Indians, came up with a huge interception for the Indians with 5:07 left and the Indians had the ball and a chance to tie the game.
Neil Flanigan made a huge interception for the Indians
On the first play from scrimmage Givins-Perry exploded through a hole and headed down the sidelines for what looked like a 63-yard touchdown run, but a holding call foiled the tremendous sprint.
Givins-Perry showed some true grit, though, and carried the ball six times and eventually scored on a 1-yard run to bring the Indians within eight points with 3:10 left.
Torres, who was named the game's Most Valuable Player afterwards, picked up a couple of key first downs for the Pioneers before losing the ball after being jolted by Flanigan on what looked like a clear fumble with just under two minutes left, but once again the referees saw it differently and ruled him down, which would seal the deal for the visitors.
Givins-Perry, who rushed for 135 yards and two touchdowns on 20 carries played a superb game for the Indians and was named runner-up in the MVP voting.
Bartlett head coach Dane Laboissonniere, who is now 0-3 against the Pioneers, was clearly disappointed with the loss. “A couple things didn’t go our way no doubt, sometimes that’s just the way the ball bounces and we couldn’t seem to get over the hump. We made some mistakes and we could not recover from them”.
“We didn’t finish off two drives in the red zone and that ultimately cost us the game,” said Laboissonniere, who was also surprised that Torres’ fumble was not called. “I thought it was out, everyone on the field thought it was out, and the ref comes over and bails the kid out, that was just awful and that took our last shot away.”
Laboissonniere praised Givins-Perry for being a workhorse afterwards and also had some nice words to say about Flanigan for his big plays on defense. “He gets better and better and that was a big play (interception) and he caused the fumble that apparently did not happen. He keeps making big plays and he is going to be very good the next two years.”
Bartlett touchdown celebration
The Pioneers hold the series edge 51-39-2 and you can count on this rivalry being huge for many more years to come.
- Friday, 23 November 2012
- Posted in Categories: : Sports