By: Bradley Shatraw
Lasalle Rams are headed for the RIIL State Championship Game after defeating the North Kingstown Skippers 35-21 Friday evening. Jamezell Lassiter was the star of this game for the Rams, finishing with 33 carries for 195 yards. He was far from the only contribution in this one though, as the Rams passing game was also a force and their defense came through when it mattered most.
North Kingstown started with the ball in this game but they were forced to punt after a lone first down. Lasalle took over after the punt, but wasted absolutely no time getting on the scoreboard. Jamezell Lassiter broke off for a 43 yard touchdown run to give the Rams a quick 7-0 lead out of the gate.
After some empty drives for each team, North Kingstown's offense finally found a rhythm. The Skippers had some help from penalties on Lasalle's defense, but nonetheless marched down the field to get themselves into Rams territory. That's when Evan Beattle made a 16 yard catch to put NK in scoring position. Eddie Buehler followed that pass up with an even better dime to Andrew Ciarniello to tie this one at 7 a piece.
Lasalle got the ball back and quarterback Dean Varrecchione went to work. He completed a pass to Tyler Simon for a first down to get things started. Then, Brady Fisher stunned everyone in the building with a potential catch of the year candidate, hauling in a 37 yard watch with only one hand. Eventually the Rams faced 2nd & Goal and punched it in with a quarterback sneak to take a 14-7 lead.
North Kingstown took over and reminded everyone that this game was an instant classic. On third down, Eddie Buehler tossed a beautiful 55 yard pass to Christopher Bishop to get his team right back in scoring territory. It was the momentum boost the Skippers needed and a great play by both the quarterback and reciever. The drive was finished off with a touchdown run by Andrew Ciarniello, tying this one again at 14.
The Rams still had time to do damage before the first half ended, and they knew it. Jamezell Lassiter was elusive throughout the drive, eventually breaking off and getting Lasalle deep into Skippers' territory. Dean Varrecchione took over and slung a gorgeous 20+ yard touchdown pass to Brady Fisher giving the Rams yet another lead, 21-14 before the half.
Varrecchione talked about the game, saying "It was a tough hard game, they're a great team and they proved it today. It wasn't easy for us, we had to come to come together as a family and be locked in."
The second half began with both teams defenses getting stops, and eventually North Kingstown got the ball. Enter Andrew Ciarniello, as he carried this drive on his back. Eddie Buehler fed him time and time again and the Skippers marched down the field. Ciarniello ended the drive with a touchdown catch, putting his total at 3 for the day, one coming on the ground and the others through the air. That tied the game at 21, and this one was knotted once again.
Lasalle had no interest in waiting around as they came right back with a good drive of their own. They did face a 4th down, but were able to move the chains after Jamezell Lassiter hauled in another catch. Lassiter wasn't done there, following it up with another touchdown run that gave the Rams a 28-21 lead.
When asked about what gave him the ability to be so consistent throughout the game, Lassiter said "reading my blocks, trusting my teammates and just listening to what coach told me to do."
The Skippers took the ball with 8 minutes left and a chance to try and tie the game again. They started the drive off with a 28 yard pass and catch hauled in by Noah Gincastro. That's when Lasalle's defense entered the chat with a clutch interception by Amare Fortes.
The Rams offense took advantage of the good field position, punching in a touchdown by quarterback Dean Varrecchione. It gave them a 35-21 lead and sealed this game for the men in maroon. The clock ran down to 0, and the Lasalle fans roared as their team earned a berth to the RIIL State Championship Game.
Rams coach Geoff Marcone said "I think they played well. We could've played a little better, but I thought that when we needed to play well, we did. When we needed to make a big play on the offensive or defensive side of the ball, we did. I'm happy with that" of his team's performance.
The Rams showed today that they get production from more areas than one. Dean Varrecchione finished with 225 passing yards and 3 total touchdowns. Brady Fisher had 4 receptions for 69 yards and a touchdown. Chase Gouvin had 3 catches for 65 yards. It wasn't just Lassiter, but he was the driving force. Make no mistake about it, this team has one more game to complete their mission and they're locked in. If they play anything like they did today, watch out.