PHOTO BY SCOTT EISEN
Revere wide receiver Cristian Acuna kisses a trophy after his team’s Thanksgiving Day win against Winthrop.
By HAROLD RIVERA
REVERE — A winning season was on the line for the Revere football team as it entered its Thanksgiving clash against Winthrop with a 5-5 record. In front of their home crowd at Harry Della Russo Stadium, the Patriots answered the call with a 14-7 win over the Vikings.
Revere coach Lou Cicatelli opted for a run-heavy gameplan and it paid dividends. Anthony DeStefano, a senior captain, carried Revere with a two touchdown performance.
“We knew they were going to have a tough time stopping Anthony (DeStefano),” Cicatelli said. “They did a nice job stopping Victor (Rivera) on the jet sweeps. They took that away but what they didn’t take away were the plays off-tackle. That’s where we beat them up a little bit.”
Photo gallery: Revere vs. Winthrop 2016 Thanksgiving football game
DeStefano’s first score of the contest concluded the game’s opening drive. The senior carried the ball into the end zone from 30 yards out to put Revere on the board. Badr Haou’s kick was good for the extra point, making it a 7-0 game midway through the first quarter.
“He’s (DeStefano) a beast,” Cicatelli said. “He’s a great kid and a great captain. He’s going to be sadly missed.”
Down 7-0, Winthrop responded on the ensuing drive. The Vikings faced a third and twelve in their own territory, but Revere committed a costly pass interference penalty to give Winthrop a chance to extend the drive.
As the Vikings inched closer to the end zone, running back Jon Gonzalez scored on an 11-yard run to open the second quarter. Calvin Tufa’s extra point kick tied the game at 7-7.
“We knew they (Winthrop) were a good football team,” Cicatelli said. “It’s the truth. You can throw the records out, it doesn’t matter. This came down to the wire.”
After the two teams exchanged drives that ended in punts, Revere’s offense began to find its rhythm again.
The Patriots converted on a pair of fourth downs with a two-yard carry from DeStefano and a one-yard keeper from quarterback Eddie Sullivan, respectively.
Cicatelli credited his offensive linemen for opening the running lanes in key situations.
“They were great today,” Cicatelli said. “They’ve been great all year. They’re a young bunch and that’s kind of exciting. We have two sophomores and three juniors. That looks good for our future. They opened a lot of holes for Anthony and they were a big part of the win.”
DeStefano closed the drive with his second score of the day, this time on a nine-yard run to reclaim the lead. Haou’s kick gave Revere a 14-7 lead at the half.
Winthrop took a page out of Revere’s book to open the second half. The Vikings moved the chains with their ground game, thanks to a series of carries from Gonzalez and Jaidon Brown.
With the Vikings knocking on the door, Revere linebacker Edeh Ballo forced a fumble on a quarterback keeper by Christopher Zuffante and Winthrop came away with no points to show for a nine-minute drive.
“Our defense played very good football,” Cicatelli said.
Winthrop’s defense forced Revere to punt the ball with eight minutes to play. With one final chance to climb back into the game, the Vikings converted on a fourth and one to put Revere’s defense on its heels. Once again, the Patriots made the plays.
Zuffante targeted Brown on a long pass attempt, but it was broken up by Rivera in coverage. Needing five yards to convert on another fourth down, Winthrop called for a quarterback keeper. Revere’s defense stuffed Zuffante, with James Kioussis making the tackle.
Revere took over on downs with under three minutes remaining and a series of carries by DeStefano, Rivera and Oscar Lopez iced the victory at 14-7 to give Revere (6-5) a winning season.
“We were very focused,” Cicatelli said. “We played good football down the stretch. It was a close game, but we found ways to win.”
Harold Rivera can be reached at [email protected].