FOXBORO, Mass. – In a game dominated by defenses and special teams, it was Foxboro senior quarterback Devin Hassett that pulled off arguably the play of the game on a soaked, muddy, and windswept Jack Martinelli Field in Friday’s Davenport division opener.
Facing third and 17 from his own 34 and with the Warriors clinging to a one-point lead over rival Stoughton, Hassett (11 carries, 90 yards) rolled out to the far sideline and followed a caravan of blockers, including classmate Mike Henri, before bursting through the opening for a 43-yard gain deep into Stoughton territory.
Although the Warriors did not score on the drive, the Black Knights were forced to start their final possession backed up inside their own five-yard-line with three minutes remaining. Stoughton drove about 70 yards but Alex Sjoquist was stopped at the Warriors 30 as the clock ran out on Foxboro’s 13-12 victory.
“If we had lost this one they would have taken the sign down probably,” Foxboro coach Jack Martinelli joked after picking up his first win at the field that was renamed for him in the preseason.
“It was a great game,” he added. “It was two hard-hitting teams of kids. I’m so proud of them; they took a tough loss last week in a game where we didn’t make a lot of big plays but we did tonight.”
Foxboro earned its first win over Stoughton since 2009, taking advantage of mistakes by the Black Knights to get its offense going. Stoughton fumbled three times in the opening half and the Warriors scored twice off of those turnovers.
“We haven’t done that in a long, long time,” said Stoughton coach Greg Burke. “That’s our fault. You can’t fumble the ball once you have it; it’s like gold and you better protect it no matter. I’m a little disappointed in that, but we battled.”
Stoughton spent almost the entire first half in its end of the field. Foxboro’s first possession ended in a three-and-out, but Liam Foley’s punt bounced off the leg of a Stoughton player and was recovered by Phil Dure at the Stoughton 35. The Black Knights defense, led by Sjoquist, John Jolley, Jason Joseph, and Anthony Burke, stuffed the Warriors and forced a turnover on downs but Foxboro had the territorial advantage.
“A big factor in the game was Liam Foley’s punting,” Martinelli explained. “It got us out of a hole where we continually went three-and-out, but he flipped the field for us and allowed us to play some good defense.”
In the second quarter, Justin Ly was stripped of the ball near the Stoughton bench and the Warriors recovered the loose ball at the Black Knights’ nine. After a penalty and an incomplete pass, Hassett (3-8, 26 yards) found Dure in the back corner of the end zone from 15 yards out to make it 6-0.
“Their first touchdown was a pattern that we went over all week,” said Burke, “but we just didn’t cover it. Hats off to them. We knew the quarterback was going to roll, get out of the pocket; he did a hell of a job. We got him a few times, but they got us more than we got them.”
The momentum was short-lived, as Ruben Gonzalez snared the ensuring kick-off at his own 11 and raced down the right sideline for a touchdown. Dure blocked the extra point and the score was tied 6-6.
On its next possession, Ly (11 carries, 51 yards) was stripped again and Shawn Teixeira recovered the loose ball for Foxboro at the Stoughton 35. Henri (11 carries, 40 yards) got the call for the Warriors and he burst through the middle for 12 yards on third and four to keep the drive alive and he finished the possession with another bruising 14-yard carry up the middle to give Foxboro the lead.
“I’ll take them anyway we can get them,” said Martinelli about using turnovers to score. “Points have been hard to come by this year, so 13 was a lucky number for us tonight. It was the first time that we’ve gone into halftime with a lead.”
Stoughton had the perfect start to the second half. Facing third and four on the opening possession, Alex Iverson (six carries, 93 yards) took a sweep to the left 26 yards to get near midfield. On the next snap, Iverson took an identical hand-off and this time broke it for a 52-yard score that cut the lead to one.
Dure again blocked the extra point, but an offsides penalty gave Stoughton another chance from a yard closer. Burke decided to go for two and the lead, but Iverson was stuffed on the conversion attempt. That point turned out to be the difference.
“It might have been the winning score,” said Burke of the decision to go for two. “I don’t mind going for that, thought we’d get it in, but it didn’t happen. It’s a big decision, of course it is.”
After Hassett’s big play pushed Stoughton back to its own goal line, the visitors tried to put together one last drive. Iverson gained eight yards on third down and junior quarterback Evan Gibb (9-13, 54 yards) hit Iverson for 15 yards on fourth and 10 to get to the Foxboro 40. On fourth and 15, Gibb hit Colin Sanda for 15 yards on the Foxboro sideline to keep the drive going, but he could not get out of bounds and the clock ran down.
“I thought our guy was out of bounds and we weren’t really sure,” said Burke, “but they wound [the clock] and we should’ve spiked it, stopped it, and maybe had at least one pass. We went 70 yards, but that ain’t enough. If we get to the 20, we have a shot at kicking a field goal.”
Although 13 points was a high for the Foxboro offense this season, the Warriors have won twice and Martinelli said, “We’ve played pretty solid so far. We’ve got to continue; we’ve got to get better at a few things.”
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