Playing defense against Charlestown’s formidable rushing attack is proving to be a game of pick your poison.
Stop running back Antonyo Gaddie and get burned by quarterback Brendan Lawler. Watch running back Syd Gieseking on the sideline with an injury while special teams returner Tate Boley steps in and gashes the defense for big yards.
That’s what Providence found out Friday night as the visiting Pirates ran over the Pioneers for a 25-0 win.
“We’ve got a lot of weapons,” said Boley, a senior free safety. “We’re very diverse. If I were playing defense (against the Pirates), I wouldn’t know what to expect next.”
Case in point: Lawler ran for 125 yards and three touchdowns on 11 carries. Gaddie gained 90 yards on 16 carries and Boley rushed for 54 yards on seven carries. All three had runs from scrimmage of over 30 yards against the Pioneers.
The solid running game (271 yards on 42 carries) helped offset a 4-of-15 passing attack.
“Our offense was sloppy,” Charlestown coach Jason Hawkins said.
On any other night, a number of dropped passes might have been the Pirates undoing – but the Charlestown defense was stout against a thin Providence offense.
“Our defense played great,” said Hawkins, adding that as a team “we’ve improved every week.”
The Pirates defense was led by junior inside linebacker Simon Woolridge, who had 11 tackles including four for a loss.
On the other side of the ball, the host Pioneers lacked depth and experience – and started a third string freshman quarterback.
With Caleb Lindquist injured last week and back-up Sam Conrad out as well, Providence coach Larry Denison turned to Hayden Burke. The freshman ran an offense that managed only seven first downs and 143 yards of offense against the Pirates.
“For making his first start, he did as well as could be expected,” Denison said of Burke.
A bright spot for the Pioneers, of those 143 yards, senior running back Aaron Flanagan gained 104 on 12 carries – including the longest run of the game (39 yards).
“He played well,” Denison said of Flanagan. “He came close to breaking it a couple of times.”