MILFORD, Mass. – There are different ways that a team can show resiliency. Last week, Milford kept fighting its way back on the road, not allowing Franklin to feel comfortable with its lead until the final whistle. On Saturday afternoon in its home opener against Attleboro, Milford was on the brink of putting the game away in the fourth quarter only to see Attleboro snatch momentum and tie the game.
Rather than allowing the game to slip out of their grasp, the Hawks overcame turnovers and penalties and pulled out a victory. Senior Colby Pires hit junior Carter Scudo for a 21-yard touchdown with only 1:34 remaining and Milford escaped with a 20-13 victory.
“Like I told you last week, these kids don’t quit,” said Milford coach Anthony Vizakis. “They play 48 minutes of football. We practice that way, we train them that way, and the results are speaking for themselves. Our kids battle. They don’t quit.”
The Bombardiers were playing their first game of the season and struggled throughout the second half with cramps. Junior Michael Strachan (10 carries, 53 yards) was forced to leave the game due to dehydration, while senior Isaac Gudiel and junior Justin Daniels missed portions of the game on both sides of the ball.
“This was our first real test,” said Attleboro coach Mike Strachan. “You don’t get this type of action [in scrimmages] and unfortunately we need to get in better condition. We had too many cramps and that definitely hurt us.”
Trailing 13-6 in the fourth quarter and with its bench struggling to maintain any energy, Attleboro came up with a huge momentum-shifting play. Milford got the ball down to the Bombardiers’ 13 but the defense managed to pry the ball loose from running back Luke Rosa (19 carries, 106 yards). One play later, senior Ethan Cameron (four catches, 136 yards) beat man coverage on the outside and his classmate Jason Weir hit him in stride for a 67-yard touchdown.
Out of seemingly nowhere, just when it looked like Milford was about to put the game out of reach, the game was tied 13-13 and the visitors were filled with confidence.
After partially blocking a punt, Attleboro got the ball at the Hawks 45-yard-line, but a CJ Cerrella sack (one of five sacks by the Hawks) stalled the Attleboro possession and Xavier Hilton returned the ensuing punt 31 yards out to midfield.
“They played man the whole game and they locked up and felt like they were going to bring it and they did,” said Strachan about the Milford pass rush. “I thought we had some success running the ball early and that was our intent but then we got banged up.”
Pires (25-of-41, 266 yards) swung a pass to Max Martin, who hurdled a Bombardier and drew a personal foul penalty for it. Then a 15-yard completion to Matt Varteresian was wiped away by a holding penalty. The third play was a catch by Hilton over the middle but he couldn’t hold on to the ball and Cameron recovered the fumble.
“Fumbles and penalties are going to be our biggest corrections,” said Vizakis. “Those are mistakes that can cost you games. They took advantage of it, but we’ll get those mistakes corrected.”
Again the Milford defense held and recovered possession. A short punt gave the Hawks the ball at the 37. Pires hit Scudo (seven catches, 81 yards) for nine yards, then for six, and then he again found the junior receiver open in the heart of the Attleboro secondary and he took it in for the game-winning score.
Attleboro had one last chance and converted a fourth and 18 (caused by a Herrick Louis sack) as Weir (8-of-21, 188 yards) found Cameron open in the seam for 24 yards. But, after yet another sack (this one by Rosa), Evan “Beav” Hazard picked off Weir’s final pass to seal the win.
Strachan said, “We’re young and we have to build off it. We’re really disappointed. We thought this was a game that we had a legitimate shot to win and I think we did a lot of good things and we need to build off that.”
The visitors grabbed the lead on their first drive. Weir connected with Daniels on a 30-yard pass down the sideline to get into Milford territory and from there Strachan took over. The bruising junior running back broke runs of 13 and 16 yards to get inside the five. He punched it in from one-yard out to make it 6-0.
Following a Scudo interception at their own 11, the Hawks marched 89 yards on 12 plays, including a crucial fourth down pass interference call, to grab their first lead. Gudiel stuffed Rosa for a four-yard loss on a swing pass, but then Rosa came right back with a 16-yard gain and a five-yard touchdown up the gut.
On its next possession, Milford extended the lead. Pires hooked up with Martin for a 22-yard pass to start the drive, but then back-to-back holding calls created a first and 38. On third and 18, Pires found Martin again for 20 yards and the first down to the Attleboro 13. Martin (seven catches, 105 yards) was drilled by Nolan Jaeger on the play, the second time that happened in as many drives, and Vizakis rewarded Martin by giving him the ball at the one and he scored on a jet sweep.
“A testament to his toughness,” Vazakis explained. “We knew when we were down there that there’s one guy that needed to finish the drive and it was Max. I’m so proud of him, offensively and defensively. Just a tough, selfless individual.”
Last week, KP held North Attleboro to only two first downs following the Rocketeers’ opening drive. On Friday night at Jack Martinelli Field, KP gave up 94 passing yards in the opening half against Foxboro but then after the break held the hosts to just 20 yards of offense (11 of those with seconds remaining) and intercepted three passes.
One of those interceptions came on the first possession of the second half and led to a KP touchdown that opened a two-score lead and was decisive in a 20-10 victory.
“We gave up some things and they had some wrinkles that we weren’t ready for and we had to make some adjustments,” said KP coach Brian Lee. “It got to the point that we thought, if we don’t make any more mistakes on ‘O’ and give them the short field then I think we’re going to be okay.”
KP’s offense scored three touchdowns in the second half of the opener against North and that momentum appeared to carry over to week two. The Warriors marched 68 yards on 10 plays on their opening drive to grab the lead. Senior Robert Jarest (4-10, 64 yards) hit Alex Behling on a 37-yard completion to get down to the Foxboro 20-yard-line. Jarest capped the drive with a four-yard keeper for a 6-0 advantage.
Jack Norberg ended the first Foxboro drive with a big sack of Shayne Kerrigan, but TJ Perry got the ball right back for the hosts when he read Jarest’s eyes as the QB rolled out and picked off the pass. Perry returned it to the KP two. Two plays later, Kerrigan punched it in from a yard out and Foxboro grabbed a 7-6 lead.
Foxboro struggled offensively last week against Norton, but things were clicking for the Warriors early on Friday night. Kerrigan (7-18, 94 yards) was causing problems with his ability to make throws on the run. He found Luis Sulham for a 17-yard completion and Ryan Hughes for 23 yards. On third down from the KP eight, Sam Callanan pressured Kerrigan and forced an incompletion.
Despite a low snap, Tyler James managed to split the arms of several KP players and split the uprights on a 25-yard field goal.
Needing a response, KP’s offense put together an eight-play, 58-yard drive that gave it a lead that the Warriors wouldn’t relinquish. Ryan Halliday (23 carries, 87 yards) got the ball four times on the drive, for 25 yards, and then Jarest hit Drew Danson for 15 yards down to the Foxboro five. Jarest (12 carries, 57 yards) kept it himself for his second touchdown of the night.
The hosts didn’t go quietly. Tommy Sharkey returned the ensuing kick out to the 35. On third down, Kerrigan connected with Sulham for 14 yards into KP territory. Two more completions got the ball down to the KP 35. Halliday and Callanan sacked Kerrigan and a spike gave Foxboro fourth and eight from the KP 38 with only eight seconds left in the half.
Kerrigan looked underneath the deep coverage to find Brian Derba down the far sideline. The play went for 23 yards and Derba went out of bounds with one second on the clock. James had a chance to tie the game heading into the break, but KP blocked the kick.
“We had a shot to tie it before the half and it shouldn’t have made an emotional difference but maybe it did,” said Foxboro coach Jack Martinelli. “We improved on a few things offensively in the first half but they dominated the second half.”
Foxboro got the ball to start the second half, but on third and 13 Kerrigan was picked off by Nick Viscusi. After completing 6-of-10 passes in the first half, Kerrigan would complete only 1-of-8 after the break for zero yards. Two plays after the interception, Halliday burst through the line and ran over a couple of defensive backs to score a 15-yard TD.
Lee said, “I think when happened we all felt, okay we’ve got the short field and we can execute. There’s plenty of good things there, but as I said to the guys we have a long way to go.”
KP started to control the line of scrimmage. Pat Zarba stuffed Bobby Yerardi as Foxboro was forced to punt. The visitors would put together a 12-play drive, including a pair of fourth down conversions, and marched to the Foxboro seven, but KP was unable to add to its lead. Sean Ferguson made a big stop on third down to keep KP out of the end zone.
“That was a good football game, a lot of good hitting in there, good plays either way,” said Martinelli. “We just couldn’t muster enough in the second half, gave them the short field, and that kind of spelled the difference.”
Three snaps later, Jack Collentro ended any momentum from that defensive stand when he picked off a deflected pass over the middle. Charlie Grant would add the third interception of the half with seconds remaining, as KP clamped down and Foxboro never got past its own 30-yard-line in the second half.
“We’re still working the kinks out with some of our offensive stuff but I think the upside is still there,” said Lee. “We just need to get better at executing and of course their kids had something to do with that.”
By HockomockSports.com Staff
Mansfield senior Michael DeBolt has been selected as the HockomockSports.com Player of the Week, presented by Morse Insurance, for Sept. 1 through Sept. 7. DeBolt is the first player chosen as Player of the Week for the 2019-20 school year.
Mansfield opened its season with an impressive 31-10 victory over BC High and DeBolt, a senior running back, kicker, and defensive back, was at the heart of the Hornets’ success on Friday. He compiled nearly 150 yards of total offense and accumulated 19 of the team’s 31 points. He also had four touchbacks on his kick-offs, keeping the Eagles pinned back in their own end of the field.
“He did it all for us Friday in a big win against a great opponent,” said Mansfield coach Mike Redding. “The touchbacks early put them in tough field position, the field goal at end of half shifted momentum, and his two second half touchdowns kept the lead comfortable. That alone was enough for MVP awards, but he also played every snap on defense and helped hold a dangerous offense to just 10 points.”
DeBolt had seven carries for 100 yards, including a 79-yard touchdown just two plays after the Eagles got into the end zone for the first time, and caught a 48-yard touchdown on a screen pass from classmate Jack Moussette. He also kicked a 26-yard field right before the half to put the Hornets up by a touchdown going into the break. DeBolt was 4-for-4 on extra point attempts on the night.
Prior to Friday’s game, DeBolt announced that he is dedicating the season to the fight against pediatric cancer. By visiting https://www.alexslemonade.org/mypage/1864294, donations can be made for every point that he scores this season with all the proceeds going to Alex’s Lemonade Stand Foundation, which funds research into childhood cancer. Nineteen points in week one is a good start to his overall goal of 75 for the season.
The Player of the Week, presented by Morse Insurance, is selected by the HockomockSports.com staff. Nominations can be submitted throughout the week up until Saturday night at midnight. There may be a poll posted on every Sunday with the nominations. The results of the poll influence the selection but do not strictly dictate the decision.
MANSFIELD, Mass. – All Cincere Gill wanted was a second chance, and he didn’t have to wait very long to get one.
On the first offensive series after seeing a potential touchdown pass slip through his hands, Gill took the first handoff 64 yards for a touchdown to give the Hornets a two-touchdown lead and sparked Mansfield to a 31-10 win over visiting BC High.
Locked in a tight game, senior quarterback Jack Moussette delivered a perfect pass over the top to Gill, who had beat two defenders. But instead of a long touchdown pass, the Hornets had to punt.
As it did all night, Mansfield’s defense came through on the ensuing drive by forcing a three and out and getting the Hornets the ball back at thrown 36-yard line. Hornet head coach Mike Redding gave Gill the chance to redeem himself, and the junior back turned on the jets to get around the right side and sprinted to the end zone.
“I told the guys to go pat him on the back, get him back into it,” Redding said after the drop. “And the next series, he pops the big run. That’s a sign of maturity…last year he might have struggled to get the confidence back. But he got the big touchdown the next drive. I like the way he responded, had the big run which I thought was the turning point of the second half. We were struggling [offensively] but getting stops. It was still 10-3 or a close ball game there so popping that long run gave us breathing room.
“With Cincere, if you make a mistake and don’t have a guy to slow him down, he gets momentum and it’s going to be tough to track him down.”
Gill finished with 106 rushing yards and two touchdowns while senior Michael DeBolt (148 all-purpose yards) accounted for 19 points for the Hornets, scoring two rushing touchdowns, kicking a field goal, and connecting on four extra points.
While the Hornets finished with 31 points, it wasn’t until the second half that the offense really clicked. On the opening drive and on fourth down, Gill scored on a 29 yard run with a major assist to Nico Holmes, who came up with a huge block to create some space.
Mansfield only had two more drives in the first half: a 14-play, 52-yard drive ended with a missed field goal. And just before the half, Mansfield settled for a buzzer-beating field goal despite strong starting field position.
Meanwhile, the defense came up with some big stops to prevent the Eagles from tying the game. BC High’s second drive of the game even had a first and goal at the Hornet 2-yard line but had to settle for a field goal. Junior Matt Boen had a sack on first down and a pass break up on second down. After a rushed throw on third down, Cormac Kennelly connected on a 25-yard field goal to make it 7-3.
Two series later, BC High went for it on 4th and 4 from their own 41-yard line but junior Jake McCoy came through with an 11-yard sack. That allowed the Hornets to grab a field goal as time expired and a 10-3 lead at half.
“The defense had a great preseason,” Redding said. “People have talked about our skill guys on offense but the defense has a lot of guys back. We’re not very big at all but we get after the ball, we’re good tacklers. I thought [the defense] held us together because we had some offensive struggles at times, some bad series. When we did that, the defense got us the ball back until we got into a rhythm. That’s big, getting stops when you’re struggling on offense.”
After Gill’s big run put the Hornets ahead 17-3, the flood gates seemed to open up a bit for Mansfield.
The Hornets needed just five plays to score on their next drive. Vinnie Holmes helped the Hornets move the chains early in the drive, but facing 3rd and 10, Moussette hit DeBolt on a screen and he went the rest of the way, scampering 48 yards for a touchdown with Danny Rapoza coming up with a key block downfield.
After BC High found the end zone for the first time, Mansfield needed just two plays to respond. DeBolt cut into some space along the left side and raced past the defense for a 79-yard touchdown.
“We are [a big play offense], we might get stuffed a play or two but if you can get Cincere or Mike in open space, you can go 60 yards in a hurry,” Redding said. “We might not be able to grind it out on a regular basis, but if the defense makes a mistake, we’re able to pop one. I thought the offensive line played well tonight against a really big, physical front. We threw well enough to keep them honest. I didn’t think we’d score 31 against them but we had a pretty good night offensively.”
Mansfield football (1-0) hits the road for an out of state clash in Ohio next week, taking on LaSalle on Friday night at 7:00.