East powers past West in Division I quarterfinals

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Cranston East emerged victorious in the battle of Cranston on Friday evening, as the ’Bolts got four touchdowns from running back Rayven DeOliveira in a 49-28 victory over rival Cranston West in the Division I quarterfinals.

On a frigid night at Cranston Stadium, where it was more conducive to run the ball than pass, DeOliveira carried the ball 22 times out of the backfield, racking up 168 yards and the four scores.

East quarterback Justin Neary didn’t throw the ball as much as he typically does, but he was efficient, completing eight passes for 130 yards and three touchdowns.

Conversely, East had a tough time containing West’s Cam Alves, particularly in the first half, as the Falcons’ sophomore led his team with a pair of first-half touchdowns.

It took East just one minute, 24 seconds to score the game’s first touchdown, with Neary connecting with wideout Isaiah Hinds for a 12-yard strike in the right corner of the end zone. A botched snap on the extra point attempt actually worked in East’s favor, as Alex Martinez flipped a pass to Mack Hanley to make it 8-0.

Alves answered with his first touchdown on a 1-yard plunge a couple minutes later, but East responded with a DeOliveira 16-yard sprint to pay dirt to give the ’Bolts a 14-8 edge after one quarter.

West swung the momentum back in its favor momentarily with the first two touchdowns in the second quarter to take its first lead, 20-14. Alves rushed in from 11 yards out for the first score of the second frame, before Jeff Wardle recorded a 6-yard touchdown.

But, that lead wouldn’t last long. Just over a minute later, the Falcons were looking to force a turnover on downs when East went for it on fourth-and-1. However, DeOliveira took the carry and found a big hole on the left side of the offensive line, running all the way to the end zone for a 44-yard touchdown, pushing East in front, 21-20.

Martinez then intercepted an Alves pass on the ensuing drive, giving East the ball back with two minutes remaining in the half.

The ’Bolts would take advantage, marching down the field with the drive culminating in a 6-yard touchdown pass from Neary to Robenson Antoine with three seconds left in the half, giving East a 28-20 lead at the break.

That two-touchdown swing before halftime was huge for East’s confidence.

And the ’Bolts kept that momentum rolling in the second half.

DeOliveira added his third and fourth touchdowns of the game on rushes of 15 and 10 yards in the third quarter, increasing the East lead to 42-20.

The ’Bolts added one fourth-quarter touchdown, courtesy of a 23-yard strike from Neary to senior tight end Colin Parsons.

West’s Garrett Jackman got in the end zone for the Falcons’ lone score of the second half midway through the fourth quarter, but the deficit was already insurmountable at that point.

East will now advance to the state semifinals at Hendricken on Friday at 7 p.m. The winner will earn a spot in the Super Bowl slated for Dec. 2 at Cranston Stadium.

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