TYNGSBORO — Both the Narragansett and Groton-Dunstable offenses took turns marching up and down the field on Tuesday night in the MIAA Central Mass. Division 3 playoffs, but the Warriors proved that the trick was in the finishing. Narragansett owned just a 349-306 edge over the Crusaders in total yardage, but they took control of the game by doing a great job of finishing what they started, on the way to a 36-8 win.
Groton-Dunstable wasted some excellent drives with key turnovers and penalties against a Narragansett defense that bent but didn’t break.
Another key to the victory was the balance of the Warriors. Quarterback Stephen Ciaramitaro threw just 12 passes in the game, but completed half of them for 208 yards and two touchdowns, which complemented Narragansett’s 141 yards on the ground. Groton-Dunstable rushed for 261 yards, but had just 45 yards through the airways.
The Warriors wasted little time in taking the lead. On the second play from scrimmage, Nate Batallas blew past the Groton-Dunstable secondary and hauled in a perfectly-arched pass from Ciaramitaro for a 75-yard touchdown. When Cody Savoy, who enjoyed a productive game for the Warriors on both sides of the ball, added the conversion kick, Narragansett led 7-0 with 9:05 left in the first quarter.
The Crusaders moved the ball on the ensuing possession, getting runs for first downs by Dan Eipp and Ryan Romich. They advanced to the Narragansett 36-yard line before a fumble after a completed pass was recovered by Jake Parker of the Warriors.
Four plays later, Savoy hauled in a screen pass from Ciaramitaro and rambled 48 yards for a touchdown. Savoy tacked on the conversion rush to put the Warriors in charge at 15-0 less than five minutes into the game.
The Crusaders again moved the ball, but again shot themselves in the foot. A 39-yard burst by Eipp set up first-and-ten at the Narragansett 17-yard line. On third-and-nine, Romich completed a pass to Marco diGrazia for the touchdown, but the play was called back when an lineman was downfield. Given a reprieve, the Narragansett defense forced a turnover on downs.
The Groton-Dunstable defense forced a three-and-out, and once again the Crusaders moved the ball. Shane Penney carried four consecutive times and picked up a pair of first downs to the Narragansett 40-yard line. But a penalty, followed by a pair of incompletions, blunted the drive. Groton-Dunstable punter Brad Prasky came through with a great punt which rolled out of bounds at the Narragansett 2-yard line.
The Groton-Dunstable defense forced a punt and the Crusaders picked up a first down on a 16-yard completion from Romich to Jimmy McLean, but three plays later they fumbled, setting the Warriors up at the Crusaders’ 45-yard line.
It took just one play to extend the lead as Batallas took a handoff, started to the right before cutting back to the left on a scoring run. Savoy’s successful PAT made it 22-0 with 2:21 left in the first half.
With time winding down, Groton-Dunstable again started to drive. A Romich 3-yard run was good for a first down before a Romich to Eipp 21-yard hookup made it first-and-10 at the Narragansett 30. Penney bulled for 11 yards and another first down, but three consecutive incomplete passes set a a fourth down field goal attempt that was wide, and Narragansett took their 22-0 lead to intermission.
The Crusaders started with good field position to open the third quarter, and a pair of runs by Penney set up a first down at the Narragansett 41, but four plays later the Crusaders turned the ball over on downs.
Narragansett added to the lead, driving 63 yards on nine plays, capped by a 2-yard touchdown run by Savoy, who added the conversion kick to make it 29-0 with 2:20 left in the third quarter.
Led by the running of Penney, the Crusaders drove to the Narragansett 28, but came up short on fourth down two plays into the final quarter.
The Warriors put together a time-consuming touchdown drive, which covered 72 yards on 12 plays, capped by a 2-yard run by Batallas. The key play on the drive was a 26-yard hookup from Cairamitaro to Laraba. Savoy’s conversion kick made it 36-0 with 2:40 left.
The Crusaders averted the shutout by driving 74 yards on seven plays. Romich had runs of 17, 11 and 26 yards, and Penney capped off a productive game (119 yards on 19 carries) by scoring from four yards out. Prasky added the conversion rush for the final points of the game.
Savoy finished with 44 yards rushing, caught two passes for 70 yards, and added four conversion kicks and a conversion rush for the Warriors.
Romich had 79 yards rushing on seven carries while Eipp added 63 yards on eight carries. Penney and Brett Ursprung played well defensively.