The Black Knights flipped the game with a late first half stop and a key sequence of plays at the end of the third quarter to score a 35-16 win over the Flyers at Braintree High, the one-night home field for Stoughton.
Stoughton had 10 players combine for 372 yards on the ground with five or more accumulating 20 yards or more.
“[Framingham] is a great team, they are a pretty good club, they will do better,” said longtime Stoughton head coach Greg Burke. “We struggled to slow down their running back but we hung in there and luckily we were able to move the ball ourselves. Had a couple of penalties that hurt us, but it’s the first game and there’s going to be a lot of mistakes across the entire state.
“I’m glad we won, and I think every week we’ll get a little better. Knock on wood, I don’t think anyone got hurt. The kids are in great shape, and I’m just real happy with this first win.”
Stoughton built a 14-0 lead in the first quarter but Framingham cut that lead in half midway through the second quarter and was threatening to take the lead just before halftime. After getting the ball in Stoughton territory on a fourth down stop, the Flyers moved all the way into the red zone with just a couple of minutes left in the half.
The Black Knights’ defense got its third big red zone stop of the half when Flyers’ quarterback Jack Beverly (11/24, 96 yards) hit Sam Stubbs on the right side but Stoughton’s Kamari Grant made the stick and the tackle short of the first down marker at the six yard line to prevent a score.
Stoughton made sure to capitalize on the stop, manufacturing its most methodical drive of the game (9 plays, 82 yards) capped with a fourth down conversion for a touchdown. Junior quarterback John Burke rolled out to his right and found Christopher Ais for an 8 yard touchdown. Anthony Girlamo’s extra point gave the Knights a 21-8 lead.
The defense got a stop right at midfield, turning Framingham over on downs. After a healthy dose of Christian Ais (9 carries, 80 yards) and Christopher Ais (20 carries, 108 yards), the Knights moved into the red zone. On a broken play, senior quarterback Clayton Rahaman scrambled up the left side for a 19-yard touchdown, putting Stoughton up 28-8.
With just seconds left in the third quarter, Stoughton put the proverbial nail in the coffin. After the special teams unit made a nice play to pin the Flyers deep, Burke — who also plays at safety — came through and knocked the ball free on Framingham’s first play. Savion Scott (five carries, 46 yards) wrestled for the loose ball to give the Knights possession back.
Three plays into the fourth quarter, Burke followed the push of his offensive line into the end zone for a 2-yard keeper and a 35-8 lead.
Framingham added a second touchdown against Stoughton’s second defensive unit late in the game.
While it was smooth sailing in the second half, the beginning of the game was a bit of a rocky start for Stoughton. Framingham’s offense was moving before Stoughton brought some pressure and Grant came away with an interception on a jump ball at the six yard line.
Stoughton’s offense stalled and a bad snap on the punt gave Framingham the ball at the Black Knights’ 12-yard line. The bend-don’t-break Stoughton defense came through, limiting the Flyers to two yards through three downs and then blocked a 27-yard field goal to keep Framingham off the board.
The offense looked much better on its second series as Christopher Ais made a great cut on the right side and darted for a 92-yard touchdown but the Knights were whistled for holding. Despite the penalty, Stoughton struck with another home run type play as Christian Georges (four carries, 99 yards) broke free for an 84-yard touchdown two plays later, putting Stoughton up 6-0.
The Black Knights’ defense forced a quick three and out, taking over at their own 40-yard line after a punt. Christopher Ais broke off a 43-yard rush for a touchdown but the refs flagged Stoughton for an illegal block downfield. But once again, two plays later the Knights were in the end zone as Georges took his second carry for 11 yards and a score. Christopher Ais punched in the two-point conversion.
Both Rahaman and Burke saw time at quarterback for the Knights, and head coach Greg Burke says that will be what you see all season from Stoughton. Rahaman rushed for a touchdown and had two completions (one to Burke) while Burke tossed one touchdown and rushed for another.
“That’s how it’s going to be all year, we’re going to play both of them,” Greg Burke said. “They push each other, they are working hard. They both have their strengths. Johnny plays on defense too and Clayton did a nice job tonight. The same with the running backs, they all have to play defense too.”
Stoughton football (1-0) is back in action next week when it hits the road to play at Medford.