Super Bowl bound
North Smithfield/MSC dominates Toll Gate to reach first title game
CUMBERLAND – Top-seeded North Smithfield/Mount St. Charles squashed the No. 4 Toll Gate 56-8 in the Division IV semifinals at Tucker Field Saturday afternoon to earn their first trip to the Super Bowl.
North Smithfield junior quarterback Jack Puccetti tossed three touchdown passes, all to senior wide receiver Jason Meriwether, while sophomore running back Jordan Allard added two scores on the ground.
“The kids played really well today,” Northmen coach Wes Pennington said. “So, I’m excited for them and excited for what they’ve been doing all season long. We’ve been playing with excitement all year, so it’s not a surprise to me that they came out and played the way they did. And, I think Toll Gate was just a little down over the year, so I’m just excited to be in the next game.”
The Titans received the ball first and after a three-and-out deep in their own territory were forced to punt. That punt attempt was blocked by North Smithfield junior defensive end Ethan Garneau and recovered by the Titans in the end zone, which resulted in a safety, putting the Northmen up 2-0.
North Smithfield also received the ensuing kickoff, which they returned to the Toll Gate 49.
After an eight-yard run from junior running back Cade Curran, Mount sophomore fullback Jared Beaudoin took the rock 13 yards up the gut to the 28. Two plays later, Puccetti threw a dart to Meriwether, who took it in for the touchdown and extended the North Smithfield lead to 8-0 with 8:09 remaining in the first quarter.
The Titans had a miscue on the first play of their next possession when quarterback Greyson Pasquina’s handoff to running back Ezra Cox was fumbled during the transfer and recovered by Northmen junior defensive tackle Cole Dubois at the Titans 15.
Then, on third down, Allard rushed up the gut eight yards and into end zone and increased the Northmen’s advantage to 14-0 with 6:39 left in the first quarter. Sophomore kicker Pasquale Camastro added the extra point after that and made it 15-0
Following that, Toll Gate went for it on a fourth-and-4 from its own 38, but Pasquina’s fourth-down pass attempt to wide receiver Anthony Shaw fell incomplete, giving North Smithfield the ball at the Titans 38.
On second down, Curran ran up the gut 13 yards to the 25. Next, Beaudoin plowed his way 19 yards to the 4. Then, on first and goal, Curran took the ball in for the score and upped the Northmen’s lead to 22-0 with 1:50 remaining in the first quarter.
After another Toll Gate three-and-out, the Northmen took over at midfield.
On first down, Puccetti found sophomore tight end Michael Paiva, who took it to the Toll Gate 28. Next, Puccetti connected with Meriwether for his second score of the contest and gave the Northmen a 29-0 cushion with 11:45 left in the second quarter.
An interception by North Smithfield junior cornerback Joshua Carufel gave the Northmen the rock at the Toll Gate 42 after that.
On second down, Curran took it up the middle for 10 yards to the 32. Two plays later, Curran rushed again and brought it 12 yards to the 19. Next, Beaudoin took it to the 9 before Allard ran it in for the score and put North Smithfield up 36-0 with 7:52 remaining in the first half.
Toll Gate got as far as midfield on its next drive before turning the ball over on downs.
On a second-and-9, Puccetti launched a 49-yard touchdown pass to Meriwether and ballooned the Northmen’s advantage to 43-0 with 4:57 remaining in the half.
North Smithfield got the ball first to start the second half and got right to work from their own 40.
On second down, Curran rushed right 17 yards and took it to the Toll Gate 45. Next, senior wide receiver Xavier Croteau carried it 20 yards to the 25. Then, Croteau took it again, this time left to the 6-yard line. Finally, on a first and goal, Croteau finished the job with a touchdown run up the middle that gave North Smithfield a commanding 50-0 lead with 9:55 remaining in the third quarter.
The Northmen started their next possession deep in Titans’ territory at the Toll Gate 8 after Dubois blocked a punt.
However, the Titans defense showed up and denied the Northmen, who had just put in their backup quarterback Colby Shannon for the drive.
Then, on a third-and-8 from the Toll Gate 25, Pasquina heaved a pass to a wide-open Shaw, who took it all the way to pay dirt for a 75-yard score and that got the Titans within 50-6 with 2:00 left in the third quarter. Pasquina also connected with Shaw during the two-point conversion and inched Toll Gate within 50-8.
The Northmen got their final tally of the game on a 35-yard touchdown rush from Tim DeVries, a senior, which made it 56-8 with 44 seconds to play.
With the victory, North Smithfield earns a spot in the Super Bowl opposite No. 3 Tiverton next Sunday at Cranston Stadium.
“I think we’re going to go there, hopefully to play well, and whoever it is, whether its Ponaganset or Tiverton, we’ll game plan and we’ll set it up, and we’ll get ready to go,” Pennington said. “This is the first time that North Smithfield has been in the championship game, so we’re just excited right now. We’re going to enjoy this and then we’ll get ready for those guys.”
Xavier Croteau (21, left) gets hauled down by a Toll Gate defender during No. 1 North Smithfield/ Mount St. Charles’ 56-8 Division IV semifinal victory over the No. 4 Titans Saturday.
Mount St. Charles sophomore running back Jared Beaudoin, North Smithfield’s Michael Paiva (center) and the No. 1 Northmen celebrate Saturday’s Division IV semifinal win over Toll Gate.