KP Grinds Out Win, Books Place In South Final

King Philip football
The KP defense limited Marshfield to just eight first downs and only seven points to stay unbeaten and advance to the D1A South final. (Josh Perry/HockomockSports.com)

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WRENTHAM, Mass. – King Philip had the chance to run out the clock in the closing minutes of Friday night’s Div. 1A South semifinal at Macktaz Field, but Shane Frommer was stopped for a two-yard loss on fourth and two from the Marshfield 17. The Rams had one last chance after the turnover on downs to try and even the score.

Marshfield, which had beaten the Warriors two years ago on the same field in the Div. 2 South final, started the drive with an incomplete pass and then a pass batted down by senior Brett Mazur. On third and 10, Jackson Phinney (8-28, 119 yards) picked out Christian Friedel for 16 yards. Two plays later, Phinney found Mike Catanoso for 39 yards and first down at the KP 26.

The Warriors needed to make a play and on second down it appeared they had when John DeLuca and Frommer had Phinney wrapped up for a big sack, only to have the quarterback somehow release the ball for an incomplete pass. Phinney scrambled on third down and was hit hard after four yards by the far sideline.

The officials kept the clock winding and as the final seconds ticked off the Rams barely got a play away. The ball was up for grabs near the goal line and Andrew Dittrich came up with the interception that sealed the victory. KP held on 14-7 and will play for the sectional title for the second time in three seasons.

“You’re up 14-0, you think you’re going to win,” said KP coach Brian Lee, “and all of sudden they come back because they’re tough, they’re a great team, and you can get back down. Just to be hanging in there, still making plays, still chopping is why they’re special.”

KP came into the game with a plan to slow down the high-powered Marshfield offense, which scored 41 last week against Mansfield, and it worked to near-perfection. The Rams were held without a point until midway through the fourth quarter and had only eight first downs (two in the first half).

“We just had a good game plan,” said Lee of the defensive effort. “We had a great week of practice, really felt prepared. I thought we all felt confident in what our defense could do. We were probably more concerned with what we were going to do on offense, which we struggled to move the ball but it’s tough to finish drives.”

The Warriors took advantage of a short field to take the lead in the first quarter. Frommer (23 carries, 108 yards) returned Marshfield’s second punt 21 yards down to the Rams 29. Giovanni Fernandez (10 carries, 47 yards), Frommer, and Alex Olsen (11 carries, 49 yards) got the ball to the one where junior quarterback Brendan Lydon punched it in.

Lee explained, “Field position is great. We’ve been playing good special teams and it just helps out. It allows you to be patient. We don’t have any problem running the ball and waiting for a good opportunity.”

KP also had a long drive late in the second quarter that used up nearly seven minutes off the clock. The Warriors went from their own 13 as far as the Marshfield 37 on 12 plays before a nine-yard loss ended the scoring chance. Chris O’Neil closed the half with an interception.

Only seven points were on the score board but the game was being played at KP’s pace. The Warriors were methodical on offense, keeping the ball on the ground and keeping the Marshfield offense standing on the sidelines. Lee credited his offensive line of Matthew Tobichuk, Paul Macrina, Carl Sanuth, Cameron Gately, and Daniel Loewen for helping to win the time of possession battle.

“I’m very proud of them,” Lee said. “We ate a lot of clock up, which helped slow down that offense. Even though we weren’t finishing drives, we still took an offense that is very high-powered and kept them off the field.”

The teams traded turnovers on downs to start the second half, but on its second possession KP put together a drive that looked at the time like it put the game away. The Warriors went 67 yards in 13 plays with Frommer, DeLuca, Olsen, and Fernandez all getting carries. After Lydon was ruled down inside the one of a sneak attempt, Olsen got the touchdown on fourth and an inch to make it 14-0.

Just when it looked as though the game was won, Marshfield’s offense woke up. The Rams went 71 yards in nine plays and used little more than two minutes off the clock to cut the KP lead in half with 7:04 remaining. A Jack McNeil end around for 35 yards was the big play and Phinney capped the drive with a two-yard keeper.

As the Rams lined up for the kick-off, they stayed bunched up around the kicker and surprised KP with an onside kick right down the middle of the field. Marshfield recovered and the visiting crowd found its voice. But three plays later Ethan Dunne turned momentum right back around to the home team with a juggling interception in front of the Marshfield bench.

“I screwed that up that was on me,” said Lee of the onside kick, “and Ethan bailed me out. It’s a nice treat to have when a player does that and we’ve been all over them about losing the turnover battles and they really stepped up this week.”

KP tried to run out the clock and Lydon earned a first down on fourth and three with a hard count that got the Rams to jump offsides. Three plays later, the Marshfield defense made a play to give its offense one last chance. The KP defense was waiting and Dittrich made the final play to end the comeback bid.

“It feels good,” said Lee of being back in the South final. “I’d feel better if we were playing someone easy. Tomorrow we’ll go see them and get to work and think about that. We’ll enjoy tonight and go from there.”

King-Philip (8-0) will host the winner of Wellesley and Bridgewater-Raynham on Friday night.

King Philip Scores Early And Often Against Taunton

King Philip junior Gio Fernandez carries the ball in the first quarter against Taunton. (Ryan Lanigan/HockomockSports.com)
King Philip junior Gio Fernandez carries the ball in the first quarter against Taunton. (Ryan Lanigan/HockomockSports.com)

By Ryan Lanigan, Editor-in-Chief
TAUNTON, Mass. – King Philip’s offense scored early and often and built a big lead early and never looked back in 47-22 win over Taunton.
The Warriors brought the pressure early and Chris O’Neil came away with an interception on Taunton’s third play of the game. King Philip used nine plays to cover 57 yards — all on the ground — before junior Sean Garrity burst straight up the middle for a 10 yard touchdown and the Warriors went up 6-0 less than five minutes into the game.
It was more of the same in the first half as King Philip scored on every single possession in the first half. Defensively, the Warriors allowed Taunton to gain just 23 yards on their first five drives and had a pair of takeaways.
Taunton was forced to punt on its second drive and the Warriors took advantage of very favorable field position. Starting at the Taunton 36 yard, it only took KP five plays to find the end zone again. This drive, highlighted again by a long run from quarterback John DeLuca, was capped off when DeLuca hit senior Cory Lombardo out of the backfield. Lombardo caught the ball around the seven yard line and fought his way through three tackles and dove into the end zone. DeLuca’s keeper for the two point conversion made it 14-0 as time expired in the first quarter.
King Philip was able to add to its lead very early in the second quarter. A dropped snap from Taunton was recovered by Brett Mazur at the Taunton 24 yard line and on the first play, DeLuca threw a strike over the middle to junior Mike Mello for a touchdown to make it 20-0.
“I was very pleased with everything we did offensively,” KP head coach Brian Lee said. “I thought everybody played well, I really did, from the O-line to the backs and John too. And we made some good grabs which I was happy to see. Defensively we came up with some turnovers that we were looking for but we left some other ones out there. We’re certainly not happy with everything that happened defensively but in a tough season, we’re happy.”
A quick three and out gave the Warriors the ball back, this time at the Taunton 45 yard line. A four yard rush from Gio Fernandez preceded a 13 keeper from DeLuca and a 24 scamper from Garrity. DeLuca kept it himself and pushed it in from three yards out to make it 27-0 with 8:01 left in the second quarter.
“We tried to get after the quarterbacks as best we can,” Lee said of pressuring Taunton. “Covering the pass has been a little bit of a weak post for us and they saw that and came out with the idea to attack us but I think our guys have been getting better each week. We have a couple sophomores out there and they keep getting better.”
Six minutes later, Gio Fernandez capped an eight play, 59 yard drive with a run from five yards out to make it 34-0 with 1:59 left in the first half.
Taunton put together its best drive on its next series, going 62 yards on 10 plays in exactly 1:59.
Facing third and eight, Jason DaRosa picked up 14 yards to move the chains. Three plays later, sophomore quarterback Collin Hunter hit junior Adam McLaughlin on a hitch route and McLaughlin beat his defender and ran for a 35 yard gain to the 10 yard line. On fourth and goal from the six with just one second left, Hunter rolled away from pressure to the left and fired to an open Tanner Costa for the touchdown to make it 34-06 at halftime.
To start the second half, Taunton was able to limit KP to just three yards on its first two carries and put them in a third down situation. But sophomore Shane Frommer (70 yards) broke out for a 27 yard gain and a first down. On the next play, Brendan Lydon completed an 18 yard pass to Mello for a touchdown to make it 40-6.
Taunton also converted on its first drive of the second half. A third and five was turned into third and 10 after a false start but Hunter found Damion Theodule over the middle for a 20 yard pick up. Two plays later, Hunter connected with Costa on a screen play and he raced all the way for a 47 yard touchdown to make it 40-14.
For the seventh straight drive, KP was able to find the end zone. The Warriors went 12 plays and covered 66 yards, mostly on the back of Michael Conti (eight carries, 33 yards) and Lydon used a keeper to punch it in from a yard out.
“Their offense, they are just bigger, faster and stronger than us,” Taunton head coach Chris Greding said. “Consistently they are gaining six or seven yards on first down and that puts us in a hole. Our special teams just gave them excellent field position all game and I’ll take the blame on that and that’s certainly not taking anything away from KP and their offense. They aren’t going to trick you, they are going to run it right down your throat and that’s what they did. That’s a very tough squad they have over there, my hats off to them.”
Taunton had to punt but was able to get the ball back when Amir Rehim pounced on a fumble. The Tigers took advantage of that as Hunter hit Costa for a 39 yard gain to get to the 12 yard line. Three runs from Lazare Joseph pushed Taunton to the one and Hunter used the QB option to get it in from 1 yard and make it 47-22.
DeLuca was 2/3 throwing the ball but added 62 yards on the ground on five carries. Frommer, Fernandez and Garrity all were over 50 yards as well. For Taunton, Hunter was 8/23 for 150 yards with a pair of touchdowns while DaRosa had 48 yards on nine carries.
“I think we are very much improved and we continue to improve,” Lee said. “Shane Frommer came in tonight as a sophomore and gave us a little spark and I think he’s someone we might be able to go to more in the future.”
King Philip (3-2, 3-4) finishes in a three way tie in the Kelley-Rex and will make the playoffs in Division 2 South. As of publication of this recap, KP is seeded 5th according to the Boston Herald and would travel to #4 Mansfield. With games still to be played, that could change. Official seedings will be announced on Sunday and we will have an update on the website.
Taunton (0-5, 0-7) misses the playoffs and will match up with another team that missed the playoffs next week.
Ryan Lanigan can be contacted at RyanLanigan@hockomocksports.com and followed on Twitter at @R_Lanigan.