DeMattio Scores Handful, North Rolls Into Quarterfinal

North Attleboro football
North senior Tyler DeMattio proved to be unstoppable in the playoff opener, scoring five touchdowns against Plymouth North. (Josh Perry/HockomockSports.com)

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NORTH ATTLEBORO, Mass. – Three minutes into Friday night’s Div. 3 playoff opener at Community Field, the home crowd was stunned. Plymouth North, the No. 14 seed, took the opening kick and marched straight down the field to score the game’s opening touchdown. Could the visiting team pull an upset over No. 3 seed North Attleboro?

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It turned out that moment was only reminder for the North players not to overlook the Eagles. Once the message was received, the Rocketeers found the end zone on four straight possessions and scored 48 unanswered points, picking up a comfortable 48-6 victory that sends them into the state quarterfinal.

“I think it was a good wake up call,” North coach Don Johnson said about that opening drive. “We were concerned about their offense because they run that zone scheme so well and we just can’t duplicate that in practice. I think it really caught our guys off guard.”

The Eagles ran their offense to perfection on the opening drive. Quarterback Dallas Murphy used the zone read to find seams in the North defense, breaking runs of 25 and 35 yards. Killian Murphy capped the drive with a 4-yard dive. Plymouth North went for two, but Nathan Shultz was through the line in a flash to stuff the conversion attempt. It foreshadowed how North would take control of the line of scrimmage.

North’s first possession was just as effective as the visitors’ drive. The home team went 66 yards in eight plays, with five different players getting carries. Shultz was making plays on offense too, with jet sweeps of 12 and 20 yards. The second carry go the ball down to the 10. Chase Frisoli came up a yard short on a keeper and then Tyler DeMattio’s impressive night got started with a 1-yard plunge.

Johnson said, “We thought going in that we could move the ball on them, so the question was are we going to be able to stop them? It was nice to see us score that first touchdown but at that time I was thinking this isn’t enough. We need to get some stops on defense if we’re going to win this game and we did.”

After a couple of good tackles by Greg Berthiaume, who had a solid night at linebacker, and a full-stretch pass breakup by Danny Curran, Tyler Bannon picked off a pass to give North the ball on the visiting side of the 50.

Shultz again got things going for North with a 31-yard sweep down the sideline, getting the ball to the 15. A holding call wiped out a touchdown for Bannon, but on the next snap DeMattio (10 carries, 143 yards) broke free for a 17-yard touchdown and a 14-6 lead.

North’s defensive line was taking over the game. Keysun Wise and Jared Vacher both made good plays to stop Plymouth North’s next drive. On fourth and three, the Eagles, maybe sensing that they were going to struggle to stop North’s offense, tried a fake punt but the play was stopped for a loss of one.

“We’ve really matured as a group and we’re at the point where kids can make their own adjustments out there,” Johnson said about his defense making adjustments. “Sometimes I’ve got the worst seat in the house over there, so this group now can come over and tell me exactly what happened, why it happened, and what we need to do to prevent it. It’s awesome when you get to that point.”

Three snaps of the ball later, the lead was extended. Frisoli went down the middle of the field to Gavin Wells, who kept his concentration to pull in a juggling catch for 35 yards. DeMattio made it a hat trick, going right up the middle for an 11-yard score.

Another three-and-out, this time facilitated by a Bannon sack on third down, set North up for a chance to make it four straight scoring drives. Frisoli hit Jack Munley in the flat for 15 to midfield. After DeMattio ran for 16 more, Munley made a highlight reel-quality, one-handed grab for nine yards to the 23. On the next play, DeMattio took a carry around the left tackle, turned up the sideline, and found the end zone again. He added his fourth extra point and had all 28 of North’s points.

“I think we’ve made ourselves so much better by alternating those guys, keeping [Tyler] healthy,” Johnson said about the depth in the offense that keeps DeMattio from having to carry the ball every down. “The combination of all those guys has just made us a better team.”

North had the chance to add one more score before halftime. A 15-yard illegal substitution penalty on a punt gave the Rocketeers a first down near midfield. DeMattio then went 44 yards on the next two plays to get it down to the five. After Frisoli was sacked on first down, he threw a pair of incomplete passes and North settled for a 33-yard field goal attempt that fell short.

It was a missed opportunity, but turned out to be inconsequential as Curran took the opening kickoff of the second half and promptly returned it 75 yards to make it 35-6.

Two plays later, Aidan Conrad recovered a Plymouth North fumble. A personal foul call meant the drive started at the Eagles 20. Bannon went for one and then DeMattio again proved unstoppable, scoring from 19 yards for his fifth touchdown of the night. Connor Ruppert was on extra point duties in the second half, but DeMattio accounted for 34 of North’s 48 points.

A long drive for the Eagles ended on a botched pitch attempt that was recovered by Munley. With the bench in the game, North moved upfield again. On fourth and goal, Garrett Inglese went up the middle for 16 yards and the game’s final points.

The win not only moved North onto the next round of the tournament, but was also the 100th career win for Johnson. Understandably he wasn’t thinking too much of the milestone after the game. “Someone just told me, I forgot all about it,” he admitted. “It’s good, but it’s not time to be thinking about any personal milestones at this point. There’s just too much going on.”

North Attleboro (5-3) will have a tough matchup in the D3 quarterfinal, as the Rocketeers host No. 6 seed Milton next Friday at Community Field.

Click here for a photo gallery from this game.

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