By Russ Waterman
Quarterback Dan Canvan hit Joe Vecchio on a 21-yard TD strike and David Elkas rushed for a 9-yard score in the fourth quarter as Cumberland advanced to the Division II semifinals with a 14-6 upset victory over host West Warwick on a blustery and rainy day.
The Clippers defense forced four turnovers and stopped the Wizards offense three times on fourth-down tries. But they didn't capitalize on several scoring opportunities as the Wizards defense often responded with several key stops of their own.
Finally, Wizards running back Wille Alves broke free in the third quarter and streaked 41 yards down the right sideline for a game-tying TD.
Following the Elkas score and conversion pass from Canvan to Vecchio in the fourth quarter, the Wizards had a few chances to come back. But the Clipppers, led by Joshua Mota, allowed a total of just five yards in 10 plays in the two Wizard possessions, capped by an interception in the last minute.
Cumberland had a 3-4 record in Division 2A and West Warwick had a 5-2 mark in 2B, tied with four other squads and awarded the top seed on a tiebreaker.
"This just proves how tough our division (2A) was," Cumberland head coach Rick Reetz said.
Three other squads also advanced to the semifinals to be played after the annual Thanksgiving Day games on Dec. 2.
Toll Gate quarterback Doug Johnson delivered again as the Titans defeated Westerly, 21-7. Johnson had TD runs of 21 and 17 yards and passed to Joe Richotte for a 16-yard scoring strike.
The Titans have won four of their last five games while surrendering only 30 points since a 24-9 defeat to Cumberland.
South Kingstown thwarted a last-gasp conversion attempt by Warwick Veterans Memorial to edge the Hurricanes, 21-19.
A 37-yard TD pass from quarterback Ben Hamill to Ty Stromley followed by a conversion run by Tim Hazard were the deciding points.
Warwick quarterback Bob Bentsen made a fourth-quarter scoring pass to Ben Shalvey but the Rebels halted the conversion run. The Rebels also scored on an 83-yard run by Pat Franco and a 12-yard run by Kane Noka.
The Rebels will host the semifinals against Toll Gate. Two weeks ago South Kingstown defeated Toll Gate, 7-0, and prevailed over the Titans in the 2007 Super Bowl.
Jordan Johnson ran 78 yards on the first play from scrimmage of the second half to provide the only scoring in Tolman's 7-0 triumph over Cranston East in a late Sunday night game at Cranston Stadium.
Tolman will host Cumberland in the semifinals. The Division 2 Super Bowl will be on Dec. 8 at Cranston Stadium.
The division's four playoff qualifiers had little trouble with their opponents last week. La Salle stayed perfect in a 53-20 win over St. Raphael; Portsmouth prevailed 27-7 against Rogers; Barrington triumphed 26-7 versus Cranston West and North Kingstown pulled away from Narragansett, 27-6.
The playoff picture has been set with the first three seeds undetermined among tri-leaders Hope, Exeter-West Greenwich and Middletown, each with 7-1 league records. North Providence is seeded fourth at 5-3.
A 12-yard run by Al Georgio was all Exeter-West Greenwich needed in a 6-0 shutout of Classical.
Middletown scored four times on the ground to pull out a 28-6 win over Scituate. Rico McCray recorded touchdown runs of 17 and 15 yards and Andrew Ponte added a 75-yard run to pace the Islanders.
Fidel Wright of Hope scored three times, incuding an 80-yard kickoff return and quarterback Israel Rivera threw two TD passes in a 50-12 win over PCD/Wheeler.
Mark Manfredi scored two rushing touchdowns and hauled in a pass from Nick Ayala for a 50-yard score to help North Providence sew up the final playoff spot with a victory over North Smithfield.
Tiverton running back Zach Kapstein ran wild in the first half and scored four touchdowns overall in a 52-0 rout of Mt. Pleasant. Kapstein already had gained 192 yards of his final total of 228 by halftime.
Only Tiverton has qualified for the four-team playoffs as prospects loom for another logjam. If East Greenwich defeats Narragansett on Thanksgiving, both of these teams, along with Ponaganset, Moses Brown and Johnston, will finish with league records of 5-3. That would force Rhode Island Interscholastic League officials to once again resolve another five-way tie as they did last week in Division 2.