PROVIDENCE — Burrillville High head coach Gennaro Ferraro had just spent perhaps 15 minutes offering his post-game thoughts to his troops before walking to a pair of assistants, shaking his head.
In the background, the public address announcer at the Al Morro Athletic Complex had Prince's hit “Purple Rain” blaring from the system.
It was a rather apt way for the Broncos to trudge toward their team bus. On this Saturday afternoon, where there wasn't an iota of precipitation, Classical High's offense indeed poured on their foe during an unexpected 33-12 Division III blowout.
Senior quarterback Griffin Clark may have begun slowly, but he closed in style, completing 15 of 23 aerials for 218 yards and two touchdowns (without an interception). His primary target, senior Tim Shea, snared nine balls for 124 yards and a score, but also nailed three of four PAT boots, while senior Abdul-lateff Orulebaja grabbed three for 67.
And, on the ground, senior Olusegun Vadis racked up 124 yards and one paydirt on 24 handles.
Ferraro had hoped his stupendous senior tailback Jonny Thornhill would garner similar numbers, but it became apparently quickly that wasn't going to happen. He finished with 82 yards on 23 carries, while 6-7 junior signal caller Isaiah DeSilva landed just six of 22 tosses for 159 yards. (Two of those, though, went for 122).
“I don't know what went wrong, I honestly don't; if you know, please tell me,” Ferraro sighed after his squad fell to 2-3 overall and 1-3 in league action. “Our offense, after that first quarter, we just couldn't sustain it. We kept putting our defense in poor field position, and sooner of later, bad things are going to happen. We gave them a short field, and – after a while – (points) are going to add up.
“Still, you have to credit Classical,” he added. “They took our ability to run to the outside. They have a lot of athletic seniors who fly around the field and make tackles. They didn't do anything special except to get to the ball and make plays.”
The way it started, the perhaps 150 fans in the stands and watching from outside the fences (even the sidewalks) may have thought Burrillville would seize control and carry it to the end.
Thanks to Thornhill's elusiveness, the Broncos' first three plays, all runs, went for 36 yards. Seven snaps later, after a big Purple pass interference penalty, DeSilva plunged off right guard for three-yard TD keeper.
Thornhill, who had gathered 43 yards on seven carries up to that point, attempted to register the two-point conversion, but his jaunt around right end was thwarted by sophomore linebacker Gbatoh Browne.
All told, that possession went 60 yards and took only 3:58.
Nine ticks later, however, the Purple had its first lead. On the ensuing kickoff, Thornhill squibbed a grounder at junior Amos Kpanan on the hosts' front line. He snatched it on a bounce and raced 51 yards down the right sideline, much to Ferraro's chagrin.
Shea knocked the extra point through the uprights for the 7-6 advantage.
A mere 1:09 later, Burrillville incredibly regained the lead. Pinned deep in its own territory and facing a third-and-11, DeSilva delivered a superb heave down the middle of the field and sophomore Riley Tupper ran underneath it, then took it to the house to complete the 84-yard TD heave.
The Broncos again attempted a two-point conversion, but sophomore Zack Tayes dropped DeSilva's pass in the right section of the end zone.
Neither team could muster much offense over the next several minutes, though Classical did produce a fine drive early in the second. It rambled 73 yards on eight snaps culminating when Clark found Shea on a six-yard slant. Despite Shea's PAT sailing wide right, the Purple led, 13-12.
It was one it wouldn't relinquish.
After that score, the visitors maneuvered to their own 42, but Antwan Dearden's four-yard punt gave the Purple possession at the enemy's 46. It took only four plays to move it to the 4, but Allen Tat fumbled Clark's screen pass, one officials deemed a backward lateral, and that went for a 23-yard loss. Shea then tried a 47-yard field goal attempt, but it was blocked by a herd of Broncos.
Ferraro's bunch immediately began to threaten itself, taking the ball to the Classical 12, but three straight incompletions halted that golden opportunity.
The Purple once more manufactured a drive, moving from its own 14 to the Broncos' 10. That stalled as well, and Shea came in to try a 27-yard field goal, but senior Colin (call him “Drago” from Rocky movie lore) Droste leaped and blocked it.
The good news: Burrillville still only trailed by one entering intermission.
The bad: Just 2:22 into the third, Classical (2-1 league) had extended its lead to 19-13 after Orulebaja outhustled the secondary and hauled in a solid pass from Clark; the catch-and-run went for 47 yards, but Clark's two-point conversion throw to Ralph Apici sailed on him.
Following a quick three-and-out, not to mention a 15-yard punt, the Purple rolled again, moving 40 yards on six plays ending on Vadis' six-yard TD jaunt around the right side.
This time, Shea's PAT was true, and the hosts had cushioned its lead at 26-12 with 5:42 left in the third.
Undaunted, Burrillville managed a surge of its own, with help from Tupper's 34-yard kickoff return to his own 45. Thanks to Tayes' nine-yard reverse to the left, the Broncos had pushed it to the Classical 21, yet they sustained a 10-yard holding penalty, and two DeSilva incompletions halted that chance.
The Purple ended it on Orulebaja's 26-yard sweep around right end on the first play of the final quarter.
Classical did fumble three times and lost one, and also was penalized nine times for a minus-76 yards. The Broncos allowed a fumble, too, and suffered six flags for a minus-53. They nevertheless didn't execute with the kind of precision Ferraro and his assistants had hoped.
“They took away our outside run, and we tried to go with what the defense was giving us,” Ferraro stated later. “They began playing out, so we went in, but they adjusted and made the tackles. I also think they have very good players who are able to react quickly.
“I really don't have anything positive to say about this, except maybe that we've got a game next week and another chance to improve,” he added of an away tilt at Exeter/West Greenwich next Saturday at 2 p.m. “I just don't know who we are as a team.”