Stonington feasts on Westerly 25-0
Stonington — Stonington never devised a grand plan to mount a four-game winning streak on Thanksgiving Day.
The annual rivalry game with Westerly is usually far too competitive and often unpredictable to look that far ahead.
"It's so hard to win one of these," Stonington coach A.J. Massengale said.
The Bears made it look easy on Thursday while rolling to a 25-0 win in the 156th meeting overall, 97th on Thanksgiving Day, before an estimated crowd of 3,600 fans at a packed Donald F. Palmer Field. They stretched their series lead to 73-66 with 17 ties.
"This was a big game," said senior Amadi White, one of 18 Bears who will graduate without losing to Westerly on Thanksgiving Day. "Seniors wanted to go out with a bang. You can't win three in a row and then lose the fourth. You've got to win the fourth."
For the second straight year, Stonington (3-7) rode a dominant defensive performance to victory. The Bears, who won 28-0 last season, pulled away with a 19-point second quarter.
Westerly (2-9) had good field position for most of the game, driving inside the Stonington six-yard line twice before stalling.
"We were focused on defense," White said. "Defense wins games. We didn't want them to score."
White was an all-purpose performer on Thursday. He helped Stonington's stingy defense toss a shutout, threw an 8-yard touchdown pass to junior Nick DeDominicis in the fourth quarter and scored on a momentum-turning 37-yard return off a blocked punt.
He also filled in at quarterback in the second half, replacing starter Liam Wallace who watched from the sidelines on crutches after suffering a knee injury with about 30 seconds left in the first half.
Before leaving, Wallace carried the Bears to a big halftime lead. He rushed for 144 yards and two long touchdown runs in the second quarter. He earned most valuable player honors.
"It was tough watching," Wallace said. "But our team did a great job and our defense played hard, and it went by really quick."
After scoreless, turnover-filled first quarter, Stonington struck first with a special teams play that it had worked on in the 10 practice days prior to Thursday's game.
Senior Lincoln Robinson blocked Drew Turnbull's punt, setting off a wild scramble for the loose football. The Bears appeared to have it a couple of times before White scooped it up and raced 37 yards for a touchdown.
"I had it at first and then someone knocked it out of my hands, and then I saw another kid fumble it," White said. "I just picked it up again and ran. There was a lot of fumbles on that play."
The Bears seized control from there.
After stopping Westerly on fourth on the Stonington 30, the Bears marched 70 yards in four plays. Wallace bolted up the middle, absorbed a hit and spun away into the clear, completing the 57-yard touchdown run.
Wallace danced into the end zone on Stonington's next drive, running through a huge hole up the middle on the way to a 25-yard scoring scamper. The Bears scored 19 points in six minute, 16 seconds span.
"There was a lot of room every time I took it up the middle," Wallace said.
The 19-point cushion was plenty for Stonington's defense to preserve.
"Our defense was phenomenal," Massengale said. "We didn't go into halftime thinking we had to make this adjustment and that adjustment. We were in a good place defensively."
It was a frustrating afternoon for the Bulldogs, who've struggled to score all season. With an opportunity to get back into the game, they opened the second half with their best drive. But they failed to score on four straight running plays with first and goal from the nine.
Westerly also didn't capitalize on two early Stonington turnovers.
"Every time we did something, we moved the ball a little bit and then got nothing," Westerly coach Chris Wriedt said. "They obviously were doing something right defensively that we couldn't handle offensively."
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