By Matt Feld, HockomockSports.com Contributor
DORCHESTER, Mass. – On a Mansfield team filled with star upperclassmen, sophomore Cincere Gill made the opening night difference.
With the Hornets locked in a 7-7 tie with host BC High, Gill ran for a pair of scores over the final seven minutes to lead Mansfield to a 21-7 win over the Eagles on Friday night at James Cotter Field.
Mansfield mostly relied on two-way standout Vinnie Holmes to handle the ball through the first three quarter as the nunior totaled 90 yards heading into the final frame. The constant wear on the Eagles’ front seven of bringing Holmes down began to showcase itself in the fourth quarter, allowing Gill to use his speed and athleticism to take over.
“After (BC High) tied the score, just a great response by our guys in the fourth quarter on the road,” said Mansfield coach Mike Redding. “Cincere (Gill) is a young player but gives us that element of speed off the edge and big-play capability.”
Mansfield grabbed the lead midway through the second quarter when on third and nine from the BC High 11, Damani Scott took the snap out of the shot gun, rolled right and found a wide-open Nick Marciano for the touchdown.
The Hornets maintained the 7-0 edge into the final stanza, but saw the Eagles tie the game up on a Jacob Perez 12-yard score.
The Hornets were then in danger of turning the ball back over to BC High and giving the Eagles a chance to jump in front, but Aiden Sacco turned a poor snap on a punt attempt into a 17-yard pick up down to the Eagles’ 24-yard line. Two plays later, Gill corralled the ball off the jet sweep and ran it up the right side for a 21-yard touchdown to push Mansfield in front, 14-7.
On BC High’s ensuing drive, Holmes provided the key defensive play of the night. Looking to tie the game up midway through the fourth quarter, BC High running back Brendan Cassamajor rushed for a combined 38 yards to put the Eagles inside the Mansfield 30-yard line.
On fourth and one at the Hornets 25-yard line, the Eagles attempted a play-action pass. Holmes, however, snuffed it out and sacked a scrambling Joe Brink to turn BC High over on downs.
That’s when Mansfield’s ground attack put the game out of reach. Khristian Conner got the drive started with a six yard run, and moments later Marciano broke free for a pickup of 46 yards down inside the BC High 15-yard line. With less than a minute to play, Gill put the finishing touches on a key road win for Mansfield scampering in from four yards out to give the Hornets an insurmountable 21-7 lead.
“Vinnie is just a hard runner and a bruiser,” said Redding. “It allows us to wear some teams down. Marciano is dynamic. I thought we were a little sloppy at times. We had some chances to get that second score to get to 10 or 14 and could not, but I was real proud of our guys for fighting through on the road.”