NORTH ATTLEBORO, Mass. – The game was moved from Friday night to Sunday evening because of inclement weather and the atmosphere was not nearly as charged as it usually is at Community Field. The Rocketeers started sluggishly, falling behind against visiting Milford but turned it on in the second half to break open a close game and stay unbeaten in the division.
Behind 139 yards of offense from Bobby Mylod and 134 from Nick Rajotte, North Attleboro scored 35 straight points (21 unanswered after the break) and allowed only one first down in the second half to roll to a 35-7 victory.
“Especially with our field situation,” North Attleboro coach Don Johnson said of the difficulty of preparing for a Sunday game. “We get two extra days where we can practice, but we had to go in the gym because we couldn’t get a good field where we can practice. I think that explains some of the lethargic play that we saw in the first half.”
Milford got a first down on its opening possession behind senior Blake Hill (19 carries, 83 yards), but a pair of incompletions under pressure from the North defense forced a Sean Lehane punt. Rajotte had it ricochet off his shoulder pads and Tony Mobiliarecovered for the Hawks at the Rocketeers 26.
Matt Curran (2-9, 24 yards) hit Jack Cappalletti for 10 yards down to the 15 and Hill followed with a 14-yard burst through the middle to get a first down at the one. Two quarterback sneaks later, Curran squeezed over the goal line to give Milford the 7-0 lead.
North bounced back on its next possession with Rajotte accounting for 43 yards on the ground and through the air to get in Milford territory. With North facing fourth and 13, Chad Peterson (10-12, 125 yards) looked down field to Mylod for a 30-yard strike to tie the game.
On its next possession, Milford had a chance to look down field, but Kayden Kelly could not haul in a pass on the sideline with Kyle McCarthy in tight coverage and the Hawks would give the ball back to the Rocketeers. Peterson hit David Engler twice and Mylod had a 26-yard gain on a sweep to get down to the Hawks 29. After Hill stuffed Rajotte for a loss, Peterson again laid out a pass for Mylod to run under and the 32-yard touchdown made it 14-7 at the break.
“We had a couple opportunities early in the game to keep it neck-and-neck,” said Milford coach Joe Todd. “Our defense played well at times, but we gave up too many big plays in critical situations.”
North received the ball to start the second half and set up about taking control of the game. The Rocketeers engineered a 10-play, 76-yard drive to go up by two scores. Rajotte had the first 35 yards of the drive and McCarthy broke a 20-yard run down to the 13. Mylod went straight up the gut to the one, where the ball popped loose. Engler followed the play and dove on it for the touchdown.
“I think that was important,” said Johnson of the second half drive, “and good teams should be able to do that, come out and move the ball on the first drive and establish it. We haven’t done that all the time this year, so it was good for us to do that for once.”
Milford’s next possession ended on a sack by Jack Dakin. The Hawks would not get another first down for the remainder of the game, as the North defense locked down the running game. The Rocketeers held Hill to only 17 yards on eight carries after the break by dominating the line of scrimmage, particularly Thomas Reynolds, Thomas Kummer, and Jay Loring, who battled Milford’s big lineman Riley Burns all night.
“I think we wore them down a little bit,” said Johnson. “Nice to see us doing that to someone for once, instead of King Philip doing it to us.”
With the gap widening, the Hawks were also forced to go away from their strengths needing to score quickly. Todd explained, “Once we came out of halftime and they scored on that first drive, we really needed to score after that and we didn’t. Offensively, it’s tough for us to score fast, it’s not our style, so I think that was a big advantage for them.”
Midway through the fourth quarter, North took over at its own 27. Rajotte needed only one play to add another score, breaking tackles at the line of scrimmage and then winning a foot race against several Hawks for the 73-yard score. After Loring sniffed out a fake punt on Milford’s next possession, Jonathan Shultz tacked on a 31-yard TD.
“It was nice to see Rajotte break that long one in the second half,” Johnson said. “We haven’t had that opportunity yet where we had everyone in their in the second half. We’re going to need it.”
Todd concluded, “Our strength is obviously running the football and I think they were able to find our tendencies and offensively I thought they did a great job of attacking some things that we were trying to take away.”