What a difference 12 months can make.
One year after being overpowered by East Greenwich High, the Tiverton High football team returned the favor on its muddy turf Saturday afternoon, delighting a large Homecoming Day crowd by whipping the Avengers, 41-14, in a Division III game.
Dynamic tailback Keyvon Kronsberg tallied three touchdowns and a two-point conversion and quarterback Trevor Pavao dented the goal line three times as the Tigers converted a trio of turnovers into scores while improving to 6-1 overall this season and 4-1 in divisional play, good enough for a first-place tie with Moses Brown School of Providence and Rogers High of Newport. Youthful East Greenwich dropped its fourth straight outing to slip to 2-5 on the year and 2-3 opposite league rivals.
Offensively, Tiverton unofficially ground up 386 yards and scored five touchdowns on the ground and one through the airways. Defensively, the Tigers limited the Avengers to 209 yards of total offense (just 114 yards through the first three quarters), forced three turnovers and sacked starting quarterback Andrew Miner three times to avenge a 34-8 loss a year ago at East Greenwich.
“A year ago, we were very, very young,” said Tiverton Coach Bob Murray. “Well, a year has gone by and we’ve picked up a lot of experience and a lot of learning and the players are becoming more comfortable with what they are being asked to do.”
Especially Kronsberg, Pavao and the Tiger defense, which made life miserable for EG’s underclassmen-laden squad. Unofficially, Kronsberg finished with 162 yards running on just 11 carries and Pavao ended with 68 yards rushing on 11 tries and one touchdown pass, while Tiverton’s defense yielded merely 52 yards on the ground.
East Greenwich Coach John George said he was impressed by Tiverton’s progress during the past year.
“They’re (Tiverton) a good team,” George said. “The roles were reversed last year. They were a young team last year and we kind of beat up on them a little bit, but everyone came back this year and they’re playing well. I’m hoping we’ll have the same kind of turnaround.”
The day started well for the Tigers when Kronsberg intercepted a Miner pass at the visitors’ 38-yard line on the game’s opening series. Four plays later, on a fourth down call, Pavao swept around right end 32 yards for a touchdown and Evan Nelson’s extra point gave the hosts an early 7-0 lead.
Early in the second quarter, Tiverton’s Matt DeLeo blocked a Peter Hunziker punt and the Tigers recovered at the Avengers’ two-yard stripe. One play later, Pavao snuck across the goal line to widen the gap to 13-0.
Two series later, Tiverton sped 70 yards in just three plays to paydirt as B.K. Kiser galloped 35 yards, Kronsberg raced 28 yards, and Pavao carried it the final seven yards. Nelson’s second conversion boot increased the bulge to 21-0.
Miner and the Avengers finally got untracked on the ensuing possession, driving 56 yards in six plays for their first touchdown. After Carney Crawford ran 10 yards for a first down and Miner clicked with Kevin Mason on an eight-yard aerial, Miner lofted a 27-yard scoring strike to Kyle Palmer in the left corner of the endzone and Alex Cleary’s conversion boot narrowed the cushion to 21-7.
After Taylor Ekstrom returned the ensuing kickoff 44 yards to the EG 46-yard stripe, the Tigers needed just four plays to navigate the remaining distance to paydirt. Kronsberg contributed a key nine-yard jaunt before he sprinted 33 yards to the endzone and Nelson’s third extra point created a 28-7 chasm at halftime.
Following a Pavao interception early in the fourth period, Pavao flipped a 43-yard touchdown toss to Kronsberg on a bubble pass and Nelson’s fourth conversion kick created a 34-7 discrepancy. Later in the chapter, Kronsberg accelerated around left end and disappeared into daylight on a 78-yard touchdown rush, while Nelson’s fifth conversion boot opened up a 41-7 bulge.
Behind backup quarterback Daniel Miner, East Greenwich capitalized on a Brendan Higgins fumble recovery late in the final period to proceed 45 yards in four plays to the endzone. Daniel Miner capped the drive with a 19-yard touchdown pass to Hunziker and Cleary’s second extra point with 1:10 remaining ended the scoring.
Tiverton returns to action next Friday night in a key Division III outing at Middletown High, while East Greenwich will be idle until Nov. 4 when it hosts Rogers.