SEEKONK - It wasn't how Seekonk started. It wasn't even how the Warriors finished that mattered. It was how they started again.
Seekonk scored 28 second-half points to blow open what was a close game at halftime and beat South Coast Conference rival Dighton-Rehoboth, 35-7, yesterday.
"We knew we had to come out different in the second half," said Seekonk coach Dave Morgado, whose team improved to 10-0. Dighton-Rehoboth dropped to 3-8.
The changes, Morgado said, were twofold. First, Morgado said, he challenged his team to shake off the big-game jitters and bring the appropriate intensity in the second half.
"The intensity level was times two in the second half. We were just coming at them," the coach said. "I think we were a little leery about this game. The second half was a continuation of what we've done all year long. They just came out and got after them."
Seekonk had reason to be leery. The Warriors had won just two times in the annual matchup since 1983. The all-time series has Dighton-Rehoboth with a 26-15-1 advantage. The Warriors have as many wins in the series as they have shutout losses. Their 35-point output was their most against D-R since a 44-8 win in 1972.
The other halftime adjustment was tactical. Morgado conferred with his offensive line to see how the Falcons were attacking. Seekonk's scheme changes opened up lanes for senior tailback Chris Hanoian.
On Seekonk's first play of the second half, Hanoian sliced through the heart of the Falcons' defense for a 22-yard rumble to the D-R 26. Four plays later, the stout runner punched it in for a 13-7 advantage with 5:20 remaining in the third quarter. Ronald Case booted the extra point, the second of his five perfect PATs.
Later in the third, Seekonk's swarming defense forced Falcons quarterback Chris Alves to throw an interception to cornerback Josh Roza.
Just as the fourth quarter began, Hanoian burst through the middle again for a 52-yard touchdown, eclipsing the 1,000-yard mark for the season.
The 5-foot-10-inch, 220-pound Hanoian was confident his team would click in the second half.
"I only had a couple carries in the first half and I was trying to get a feel for what the defense was trying to do," Hanoian said.
Hanoian's patience paid off with a second-half line of 9 rushes, 111 yards, and 4 touchdowns.
"We got fired up for the second half. We were a little down at halftime," Hanoian said. "The rivalry game is every single year. I know my heart was pumping like it's never pumped before. It was my last game at home ever and it really meant a lot to my team."