The Pilgrim Patriots went to Pariseau Field in Pawtucket on Friday night and edged out the Tolman Tigers 16-14 during a Division III football slugfest.
The Pats were led by their senior quarterback Mike Borges, who rushed in two scores, and also passed and ran for two-point conversions.
With just 3 minutes to play in the contest, Tolman trailed by two points and began its final drive from the Pats 48 when the Pilgrim defense rose to the occasion.
The Tigers got as far as the Pats 15 before, Pilgrim cornerback Brady Burke and Ethan Laramee, a free safety, combined for a huge hit on Jordan Cooper, the Tolman quarterback, which caused Cooper to fumble the ball before Burke pounced on it to seal the win.
“It was a huge play,” Pats head coach Blake Simpson said. “They hadn’t run with the quarterback all game and when he took a nice bootleg around the edge, Brady just came flying up and put his helmet on the ball. So, it was just a perfect time for him to make a great play.”
“It was a complete team win,” Burke added. “We all gave it our all. We held them out of the end zone, got the ball back and just let our offense close out that drive. It was a great team win.”
Tolman drew a 14-0 lead midway through the first quarter, but then Pilgrim held the Tigers scoreless for the remainder of the contest.
“I’ve got to give a lot to our guys,” Simpson said. “They hung in tough. It was a tough first half defensively, but we made some adjustments and we were able to shut them out for the rest of the game. So, it’s definitely a testament to our defensive coordinator Shane Kelly and our entire defense as well.”
Pilgrim kicked off to Tolman to start the game and it went for a touchback.
Then, on the first play of the game, Cute Today, the Tigers senior running back, rushed right, down the sideline, 80 yards and into the end zone and gave Tolman a 6-0 lead. After that, Tolman failed the extra point attempt because of a high snap.
With 5:51 left, Tolman upped its lead to 12-0 after Aaron Carrion, a sophomore, rushed 67 yards and into pay dirt. After that, Today rushed into the house for the two-point conversion and extended the Tolman buffer to 14-0.
Two plays into the second quarter, Pilgrim pulled within 14-6 when Borges faked a handoff before running left, five yards and in for the score. After that, Borges connected on a pass to Burke, who was now at wide receiver, during the two-point conversion and that got the Pats within 14-8.
It wasn’t until there was 6:35 remaining in the fourth quarter that Pilgrim knotted the game at 14.
The touchdown came during a third down, where Borges ran a keeper 11 yards, up the gut and into pay dirt. After that, the quarterback ran another sneak in for the two points after and expanded the Pats margin to 16-14.
Pilgrim had been blowing out its opposition up until this point, and Simpson enjoyed seeing his team win a hard fought battle for a change.
“It feels great,” Simpson said. “We’ve had a lot of lopsided games this year, so to be in a dogfight like tonight and come out on top is a great feeling and I can’t be more proud of my guys.”
Tolman is expected to finish near the top of the division and beating them can only add to the Pats confidence going forward.
“Absolutely,” Simpson said. “They were the division favorite at the beginning of the year, so to win on the road here is good momentum going into next week.”
Pilgrim improves to 4-0 in the league with the victory and has two home games next against North Providence (1-2), and then Chariho (3-1), before they meet another top contender in Narragansett (3-0) on the road on Friday, November 1st.
“That’s going to be another hard game, but I believe we got what it takes,” Burke said on facing the Mariners.