It was one of the very few misses the Hawks had all game.
Four plays later, Milford ran the same play, this time connecting for a long touchdown. The Scarlet Hawks went on to score on four of its five first possessions, including three straight, as well as a defensive score and rolled to a 45-19 win over North Attleboro, the program’s first victory over the Rocketeers since joining the Hockomock League.
“We couldn’t have scripted it any better, it was almost a perfect start,” said Milford associate head coach and defensive coordinator Robb McCoy. “The kids executed really well. Our job as coaches is to have the game plan but its ultimately up to the kids and they executed the game plan very well. We trimmed [the game plan] down this week, we had a great week of preparation and practice, they were mentally ready and focused for this game. It’s all about the kids, they did a tremendous job.”
Senior quarterback Colby Pires (17/28, 296 yards, three touchdowns) connected with Max Martin up the middle for a 62-yard touchdown just 2:35 into the game. It was a sign of things to come for the Hawks’ offense.
On the second offensive series, Milford again needed just five plays, this time to cover 48 yards with Pires hitting Martin (six catches, 136 yards) on a slant route on third down for a 14-0 lead with just over three minutes left in the opening quarter.
And when the Hawks got the ball back once again, they ran seven offensive plays to cover 44 yards, capped off with Carter Scudo (five catches, 92 yards) taking the direct snap in the wildcat, using a block from Pires at receiver, and sneaking inside the pylon for a two-yard touchdown and a 21-0 lead following an extra point from CJ Cerrella (6-for-6).
Meanwhile, Milford’s defense wasn’t giving the Rocketeers much offensively. The Rocketeers went three-and-out on their first two series with a total of 16 yards, and despite running nine plays on their third series, a fourth down pass fell incomplete after pressure from Hawks linebacker Luke Rosa.
Milford’s offense stalled for the first time on the fourth series and had to punt. But the defense came up with the big play as junior Dom Schofield came flying in on a blitz, sacking North quarterback Tyler DeMattio (10/23, 167 yards, two touchdowns) and forcing the ball free. Herrick Louis scooped the loose ball up and raced in from 28 yards out for a touchdown, the Hawks assuming a 28-0 lead with 4:29 left in the second quarter.
North Attleboro was able to get on the board with under three minutes left in the half. Aided by back-to-back unsportsmanlike penalties on the Milford bench that resulted in the disqualification of Hawks head coach Anthony Vizakis, and then a 15-yard late hit call, the Rocketeers moved 72 yards on five plays.
After DeMattio connected with Ethan Friberg for 14 yards, the sophomore quarterback took up the middle himself, plunging in from a yard out to make it 28-76 with 2:39 left in the half.
The Hawks’ offense wasn’t content with its lead and responded just 19 seconds later. On the first play of the next series, Pires aired one out to Scudo, who made a man miss and raced his way for a 64-yard touchdown and a 35-7 lead at halftime.
“I think we’re good enough on the perimeter with our athletes, and Colby is good enough, that we can be a take what they give you offense, and that’s what we did,” McCoy said. “At times, [North Attleboro] loaded up the box, sometimes they bring pressure, and they are very good up front. It was a matter of us executing what we can do. Colby is very smart, he’s like a coach on the field…and the receivers like Max [Martin], Matty [Varteresian], Carter Scudo…it’s kind of like your poison.”
It looked like the Rocketeers were going to punt for the second straight possession to open the second half but kept DeMattio in the game in the punter’s spot. Instead of a kick, the sophomore connected with Russell Dunlap on a seam route, the senior sprinting away for a 44-yard touchdown.
It looked like Milford was ready to respond as Pires hit Martin for 41 yards to get into North territory but on the next play, senior Owen Harding came up with a blind side sack to force the ball loose and junior Dan Hayes pounced on it to give the Rocketeers the ball back.
The offense cashed in, needing just two plays before DeMattio hit junior Alex McCoy. Milford gambled for the interception and McCoy raced the distance for a 59-yard touchdown to bring the visitors within two scores, down 35-19.
The momentum began to swing as North forced the Hawks into a three-and-out but the Milford defense came back and forced three straight takeaways. Xavier Hilton had the first interception that led to a 25-yard field goal from Cerrella.
“The second half, it was about tabling the emotions and just playing football,” McCoy said. “We think this team is athletic enough, good enough, and tough enough to play with anybody. North Attleboro is kind of like the Patriots, they’ll take advantage of any mistake you make.”
Max Martin intercepted the first pass of the next North series and Rosa broke through a pair of tackles on the first play for a 10-yard touchdown. Scudo came up with an interception on North’s next series.
“We had some bulletin board material that we saw on Friday so our defense used that, and I think they played well,” McCoy said. “[DeMattio] is such a great runner, we wanted to try and take that away. He did a good job at times but we were able to change our coverage and get some turnovers. [DeMattio] is a really good player, he’s going to be a great player so we wanted to be aggressive with him.
Milford football (2-0 Hockomock, 3-1 overall) returns to action on Friday at Canton in a huge clash of the top two teams in the division. North Attleboro (0-2, 1-3) will try to bounce back on Saturday when it hosts Sharon.