North Attleboro ended up on the fortunate side of the final big play, holding on for a close 14-13 win over visiting Foxboro to take sole place of the Davenport division with two games to play.
It looked as though the Rocketeers had a chance to finish the game when Mario Bresko came up with an interception with 2:57 to play and a seven point lead. But Foxboro’s no-quit attitude helped the Warriors force a quick three and out and get the ball back with 2:20 to play.
Starting at the North Attleboro 35-yard line, Foxboro quickly moved into the red zone. A pass from Devin Hassett (9/17, 88 yards, two touchdowns) to Jack O’Donnell and a QB keeper moved the chains. Hassett found O’Donnell for 10-yards and then Anthony Capachietti (14 carries, 65 yards) moved the chains again with a seven-yard burst.
Facing third and goal from the five, the snap was bobbled and North Attleboro’s Sam Bullock and Geoff Wilson swarmed for an eight-yard sack. The Warriors had just one play left – 4th and goal from the 13-yard line – with 18 seconds to play.
Hassett fired over the middle, connecting with O’Donnell on the slant. It looked as though North had him stopped just before the goal line, but the senior dove forward, stretching out the ball across the goal line for a touchdown to make it 14-13 with 0:10 to play.
However, Foxboro’s connection between snap and hold was just off, forcing the extra point kick to be low and into the line, giving the Rocketeers a one-point win.
“I’m really proud of the effort of the kids,” said North Attleboro head coach Don Johnson. “We hung tough and made some plays. But I’m not sure if I’m ready to call us good yet, that was your word. Foxboro was a good team though, I know that.
“I think on both sides of the ball we just had a lot of kids who hung tough and didn’t crumble under the pressure. They worked their asses off, some of those guys playing both ways, especially inside. They hung tough and didn’t give it an inch.”
North Attleboro took the lead on the possession prior to Bresko’s interception. It was the second time that the Rocketeers ran 10-plays in a series (the other time was in the second quarter that also resulted in a touchdown). This series was the longest drive of the game for Big Red, spanning 73-yards.
It looked as though the drive was going to stall early when Foxboro’s Martin McElroy blew up a second down run. Facing 3rd and 13 from their own 24-yard line, North quarterback Chad Peterson (9/11, 110 yards, two touchdowns) was flanked out to the right and hit Brendan McHugh (16 carries, 54 yards, four receptions, 76 yards) right at the first down marker to move the chains.
McHugh then rattled off runs of seven, four and nine yards before Nick Raneri (11 carries, 36 yards) moved the chains with a three-yard burst up the middle. Three plays later, North was faced with 3rd and six at the 36-yard line.
Peterson dropped back to pass, firing to his left as McHugh came towards him. Nolan Buckley, who was lined up in the slot, turned out wide to start and then came up with a perfectly timed block when McHugh hauled in the pass. The junior was able to break a tackle up field and scampered his way for a 36-yard score. Wilson’s extra point made it 14-7 with 4:43 to play.
Foxboro had a strong start to the game. They forced a turnover on downs when North Attleboro’s fake punt from its own 40-yard line fell incomplete. Seven plays later, the Warriors were in the end zone when Hassett hit Jake Addeche (four receptions, 35 yards) on a seam route up the middle for a 14-yard touchdown and a 7-0 lead.
North Attleboro tied the game on its first drive of the second quarter. The drive spanned 61 yards on 10 plays, with the Rocketeers getting into the end zone with less than a minute to play in the first half. On second and goal from the seven, Peterson hit Raneri out of the backfield and he muscled his way into the end zone to make it 7-7.
Big Red’s defense was at its best in the second and third quarters, forcing Foxboro to punt on all four of its drives in those two quarters. Foxboro had moved towards the red zone but on second down, Zach DeMattio and Jason McNeany forced a 10-yard loss on a sack and the Warriors had to punt two downs later.
In an early drive in the fourth quarter, Foxboro had a second down at the North 30-yard line, but Bullock’s sack dropped the Warriors back 15-yards. Pressure from Adam Eberle and Wilson on third down forced an incompletion and Foxboro once again had to punt.
“I think the defense really stepped up and did a good job,” Johnson said. “But even when you think you have them buried on that third or fourth down, they stepped up to make a play, they have some good players.”
North also had an early third quarter drive stalled when Addeche and Louis Piccolo forced a fumble after a completion. Big Red had to punt on its next drive as well after getting just two yards in three plays.
“We had a hard time handling Foxboro up front,” Johnson said. “We had a lot of negative yards or negative plays in the run game. They really crowded the line scrimmage, they were flying to the football and just matching up man-to-man with everybody else. That’s a situation where you have to get a body on a body and block everybody and we were losing some one-on-one battles.”
North Attleboro football (4-1 overall, 3-0 Davenport) now moves into a position to clinch a league share with a win next week when it travels to Stonehill College to take on Stoughton. The Rocketeers have a chance to clinch a share of their third straight league title. The last time North Attleboro did that was 1997-1999.
“We made a reference that a win tonight would put us in the position to be playing for a share of a championship.
“[A three-peat] hasn’t happened too many times so there is a lot of incentive there. The problem is that the other team is pretty good too. I think Stoughton is going to be just like Foxboro, it’s going to be a battle.”
Foxboro (3-2, 2-1) will look to bounce back when it hits the road to take on Milford next Friday.
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