Unbeaten Quakers overpower Panthers

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The undermanned Johnston football team dropped its first Division II-A game of the season to the Moses Brown Quakers, 49-6, on Saturday afternoon at Moses Brown High School. The two teams stood together at the 50-yard line before the game started for an 11-second moment of silence in honor of Maddie Potts, the Chariho soccer star who passed away last week. The game was then delayed 30 minutes because of lightning.

The Panthers fall to 1-1 in their division, while Moses Brown remains unbeaten at 3-0.

Johnston was shut out last week by Division I Cranston West, but scored a solid 28-6 win over Coventry the previous week. The Quakers, who were the Division II Super Bowl champions in 2014 and 2015 and were runner-ups last season, defeated last year’s Super Bowl champion Shea and then West Warwick.

The Panthers were playing without their two main running backs, Elijah Burgess and Ty Harriel. Burgess had scored eight touchdowns and rushed for over 250 yards in his first two games of the season.

Johnston opened up the game with a good drive, which ate up seven minutes and seven seconds of the first quarter. Quarterback Evin Califano and running back James Baccala drove the Panthers down to the Quaker 22-yard line with some hard running. The drive would stall and the Quakers would take over on downs. On the Quakers’ third offensive play of the game, quarterback Mike Walsh found Joe Voccala for a 65-yard touchdown for the game’s first points. It would be the first of four touchdown passes thrown by Walsh.

Voccala, who played in the Johnston Youth Football League, set up his team’s next score with a 50-yard run. Walsh hit Jaden Pena from 10 yards out to make it 14-0.

Moses Brown threatened once again, but Johnston’s Dylan Lavoie made a nice play and intercepted Walsh in the end zone.

The Quakers upped their lead to 21-0 when Andrew Fallon intercepted a Lavoie pass, which was tipped into his hands, traveling 38 yards for the score.

Walsh would then hit Joseph McGahan for a 14-yard touchdown, which gave Moses Brown a 28-0 halftime lead.

The Quakers would not let up in the second half. A minute into the third quarter, Walsh connected with Fallon from 15 yards out. Voccala and Walsh would each score on the ground later in the game as the home team opened up a 49-0 lead.

Johnston prevented the shutout as some of its younger players came in and did a good job on their only scoring drive.

Jacob Martins, Matt Fortier, Thomas Zednik, Deremy Stubbs and Dillon Stubbs all played a part in getting those six points.

Martins, the quarterback, would cap the impressive drive with a 1-yard touchdown run as time expired in the game.

“We came out strong in the beginning of the first quarter and I thought we played well,” said Johnston head coach Joe Acciardo. “We knew we had a lot of starters out. We were thin at practice and were scrambling around all week. We had to come out in the second half and respond, but the second half was not good for us. We gave them a few points. We brought some younger guys in and they did well. Now they’re is some competition.”

The Panthers will look to regroup when they host Mount Pleasant High School tomorrow night at 7 p.m. The Kilties are 0-2 in Division II-A and are coming off a 27-16 loss to West Warwick.

“This could be a changing point for us right now,” Acciardo said. “We are lighting a fire with these young guys. It makes you run faster or you burn.”

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