By Ryan Lanigan, Editor-in-Chief
CANTON, Mass. – For the third straight year, the Thanksgiving trophy is headed back to 232 Pearl Street. Stoughton scored a pair of touchdowns in each half to pick up a 26-13 win over Canton on Thursday morning in the 90th annual holiday meeting between the two neighboring rivals.
Stoughton senior Jake Gibb capped a tremendous career for the Black Knights, throwing three touchdowns, including two in the second half.
Gibb tossed a touchdown to Izon Swain-Price on the opening drive of the game and linked up with the junior again late in the fourth quarter to secure the Black Knights’ third straight win on the holiday and avenge an overtime loss to the Bulldogs in the regular season.
“I was really happy with the line, I think we moved the ball when we had to and we had a couple of nice passes,” Stoughton head coach Greg Burke said. “Canton’s tough, they come at you hard. [Jake Ragusa] is one hell of a player, I’m glad I don’t have to see him again that’s for darn sure. Hats off to them. All I know is that the turkey will taste good today.
“We knew it would be a tough game, they’re a good team. There’s a reason they have won six games. I know the turkey will taste good today. Everybody talks about having to play the same team twice but I think it adds to the second game. I don’t care what anybody says, it really does. You get good crowds and the games are close.”
A squib kick to start the game set the Black Knights up at their own 41 yard line and five plays later, the Black Knights took the lead. Facing 4th and 8 from the 35 yard line, Gibb connected with Swain-Price on the right sideline and he was able to turn up field and get into the end zone for a 7-0 lead.
“We worked on the pass plays all week,” Burke said. “They come at you but we pass blocked. I think Gibb only got sacked once so I’m happy with that. We had some good runs, we’re a different team with Swain-Price and [Ryan] Sullivan.”
Both defenses stood tall for the rest of the first quarter. The Bulldogs were forced to punt on each of their first three drives thanks to two big third down sacks from Guy Eddy. Canton’s defense was stout though as Stoughton sandwiched two punts around a lost fumble on their next three possessions.
Thomas Monagle’s punt pinned Stoughton at their own five yard line and after Canton’s defense held up, they took over at the Stoughton 40 yard line after a Black Knight punt. The Bulldogs took just five plays to find the end zone when Woanyen Mahn (13 carries, 68 yards) burst through a gap up the middle, shred a tackle and raced into the end zone to make it 7-7 with just over a minute to play in the first half.
Despite little time to work with and starting at their own five yard line, the Black Knights got some life right before the halftime break. On the first play, Christian Hill got around the edge on the left side and sprinted 87 yards to get to the Canton eight yard line. Two plays later, Eddy took the toss to the left and broke the plain while diving into the end zone to make it 14-7 with just 30 seconds left in the half.
Neither team was able to add points to the scoreboard in the third quarter. Stoughton turned it over on downs and had a punt while Canton punted and turned it over on a fumble.
The Black Knights took advantage of another turnover, this time when Steven Elice picked off Dennis Ross late in the third quarter. Gibb found Elice for a 24 yard gain on the first play of the drive to set up first and goal. On the first play of the fourth quarter, Gibb connected with Eddy out of the backfield for an 8 yard touchdown to go up 20-7.
Canton put together its best drive of the game and answered right way. The Bulldogs went 54 yards over 10 plays to pull within one score. Behind a strong rushing attack from Hockomock League Davenport MVP Jake Ragusa (24 carries, 126 yards), the Bulldogs found themselves facing a 4th down at the Stoughton two yard line. Canton coach Dave Bohane called Ragusa’s number and the senior muscled his way up the middle for a touchdown. Canton went for two but the Black Knights were able to make the stop, bringing the score to 20-13.
“We had a couple of big stops, fourth and one and third and two, we worked on that a lot. We knew they would give the ball to [Ragusa], why wouldn’t you? I’m just happy for the kids to finish with a winning record and to win the league this year. We’re very, very excited were we are.”
But Stoughton quickly answered again. On 2nd and 3rd from the Canton 37 yard line, Gibb went play action and floated a pass along the left sideline. Swain-Price, who came out of the backfield, turned on the jets and got underneath it and raced in untouched to make it 26-13 with just over four minutes to play.
“The linebacker blitzed on the outside and I’m just told to make the quick read and just get the ball out there and just let the running back make the play,” Gibb said. “We did that and got a nice score out of it. We have a bunch of athletes on this team that can make plays so you have respect all of them. When you fake with the play action, they have to step up and respect it and that opens up the passing game.”
It was a fitting way for Gibb, who has started under center for the black and orange since his sophomore year, to finish his career. Over three years, Gibb tossed 29 touchdowns, including nine his senior year. He almost didn’t have a chance to compete his senior season after suffering a shoulder injury in the first half of the first game against North Attleboro. After missing a couple of games, Gibb returned and each week has been able to do more.
“It’s been a rollercoaster ride,” Gibb said. “From thinking I was done for the season with a shoulder injury but guys picked me up the whole way. It’s great to be back and beat Canton today.”
“If you give him time, he can throw the ball,” Burke said. “He overcame a serious shoulder injury too. His arm is just coming back these last two weeks. He can throw as well as anyone in the state. We had a lot of play action and he’s very accurate. I’m happy for him, he’s a great kid and I hope he plays next year.”
Canton pushed to try and get within a score again but a host of Black Knights stuffed a fourth down attempt from the Stoughton 26 yard line to get the ball back.
“We got outhit the first game, absolutely,” Burke said of Canton’s overtime win during the regular season. “Canton pushed us around. We have a saying to be the hammer not the nail and we were the nail and we lost in overtime. Today I think we were more of the hammer. The kids played hard and we kept the trophy, which is exciting for the kids. Hats off to Canton too.”
Both the Black Knights and the Bulldogs finish the season with 6-5 records. Stoughton now has a 46-40-4 lead in the Thanksgiving series.
By Ryan Lanigan, Editor-in-Chief
MILFORD, Mass. – Over halfway through the third quarter, Stoughton had a comfortable 30-7 lead and an offense that had moved the ball nearly at will.
But less than six minutes later, Milford had found the end zone twice and pulled within one score. Trailing 30-22 less than a minute into the fourth quarter, the Scarlet Hawks suddenly had almost of the momentum and forced Stoughton into a fourth down situation for the first time all game.
The Black Knights kept the offense on the field from the Milford 31 and senior Jake Gibb delivered a 13 yard strike to junior Ryan Sullivan for a first down. Three plays later, Gibb hit senior Steven Elice in the endzone for a 16 yard touchdown. A two point conversion from Sullivan recreated the cushion and the Black Knights emerged with a 38-22 win.
The win earned Stoughton a share of the Hockomock League Davenport Division title, the second straight year that the Black Knights had won a league title. It’s the first time in program history at Stoughton has won back-to-back league titles.
“That play was huge,” Stoughton head coach Greg Burke said of the fourth down conversion. “We were struggling and Gibb had two great throws there. They recovered that onside kick and scored and that throws you back some. It was good to get that play and keep the momentum.”
With a 24-7 lead at halftime, Stoughton took the opening kickoff and marched 75 yards on nine plays, capped off with a five yard rush from senior Guy Eddy to make it 30-7.
But there was no quit in the Scarlet Hawks. Milford responded with a 11 play, 56 yard drive to find the end zone. Milford senior quarterback Zach Lanzetta worked the offense down the field, highlighted by an 18 yard reception from Jack Cappelletti, an 11 yard reception from Asong Aminmentse and a 12 yard catch from Ryan Nesta. Lanzetta then his Shapel Feaster for a four yard score to make it 30-14 with 1:38 left in the third quarter.
On the ensuing kickoff, Milford’s Sean Lehane hit a dribbler straight down the middle and Dan Cossette was able to fall onto it to get the ball back for the Scarlet Hawks.
Milford quickly moved up the field as Lanzetta hit Cappalletti for 16 yards and Jack DeSantis (16 carries, 78 yards) ran up the middle for 11 more. Facing third and 2, Lanzetta used the QB keeper for a gain of nine and on the next play, Lanzetta connected with Cappalletti, who was able to haul in the pass with one hand for a seven yard score. Blake Hill plowed into the end zone for the two point conversion to bring Milford within eight at 30-22 with 10:39 left.
“It was great to see our guys battle in the second half,” Milford head coach Joe Todd said. “Obviously [Stoughton] is a very good football team, they have a great offense and run game and great quarterback. Number 20 [Ryan Sullivan] is a great player, he made that catch and I think that was probably the play of the game. If we stop them there we have a chance to go down and tie it. We’re proud of our effort, hats off to them for fighting and we just have to regroup and come back next week ready to go.”
Stoughton moved up the field to the 29 but a tackle for a loss from Feaster and then a pass break up from DeSantis and Feaster put Stoughton into fourth and long. That’s when Gibb hit Sullivan.
“Hats off to them, they made it interesting,” Burke said. “We had trouble getting to their quarterback. I’m glad we put up 38 points and got the win. We played pretty well defensively just couldn’t get to the quarterback and they made a couple of nice plays.”
Gibb finished 8/11 for 173 yards with the one touchdown pass while Sullivan had 95 yards on the ground on 14 carries with a pair of touchdowns and then 84 yards through the air on three receptions. Stoughton amassed for 456 total yards, with 283 coming on the ground.
Lanzetta was 19/34 for 154 yards with a pair of touchdowns for the Scarlet Hawks.
After Milford was forced to punt on their opening series, Lehane pinned Stoughton inside the five at their own three yard line. The field position didn’t phase the Black Knights as they took just eight plays to move the ball field. All eight plays were rushing plays and the last was a 44 yard burst up the right side from Christian Hill for a touchdown.
Milford responded immediately, going 13 plays to move the ball 56 yards. DeSantis had a big run to convert a third down and then hauled in a 14 yard pass from Lanzetta for another first. From one yard out, Hill punched it in and Lehane’s extra point gave the Scarlet Hawks a 7-6 lead with 10:17 left in the second quarter.
It took Stoughton less than a minute to get the lead right back though. Sullivan had a big kick return that set the Black Knights up at the Milford 22 yard line. Three plays later, Sullivan dove in from two yards out to make it 12-7.
Just three plays into MIlford’s next series, Stoughton linebacker Harry Kimball read the screen play perfectly and intercept Lanzetta to give the Black Knights the ball at the Milford 25 yard line. Seven plays later, Sullivan went up the middle for a five yard score to make it 20-7.
Another Milford punt gave Stoughton the ball and Gibb moved it up the field quickly. He hit Elice for 32 yards over the middle and two plays later, Izon Swain-Price (10 carries, 80 yards) took the toss to the left side and raced up the field for a 30 yard score to make it 24-7 with 2:23 left in the half.
Stoughton nearly scored right before the half as Gibb hit Sullivan for 43 yards but he was tackled by Nesta on the two yard line as time expired in the first half.
After losing the first two games of the season Stoughton has bounced back nicely and will likely be the 5th seed in D3 Southwest. Those two first opponents for Stoughton just happened to be Marshfield (7-0), who is widely regarded as the top team in the state, and North Attleboro (7-0), who won the Hockomock League Kelley-Rex and will likely be the second seed in the D3 Southwest.
“That was huge for us to take on two great teams,” Burke said. “People questioned why we played Marshfield but we’ll play anyone, we didn’t want to sit out for a week. We’ll play. Sometimes you want to milk your schedule but we learned a lot and I think we did as well as anyone against Marshfield. We got points from Marshfield and North because they won every week. I’d do it again too.
“I’m happy we’re to win the league title, that’s two years in a row. And that’s really, really important for the town and our program. We have a lot of kids playing their first year so to be where we are, I’m really excited for the kids.”
Stoughton (4-1, 4-3) will likely travel to #4 Walpole in the first round of the playoffs. We will have the playoff seeds posted as soon as they are announced. Milford (2-3, 3-4) looks to have just missed the playoffs, less than .2 points behind Norwood. The Scarlet Hawks will be back in action next week against an opponent to be determined.
Ryan Lanigan can be contacted at RyanLanigan@hockomocksports.com and followed on Twitter at @R_Lanigan.
By Josh Perry, Managing Editor
STOUGHTON, Mass. – The Bulldogs are becoming used to dramatic finishes and overtime battles, but there was something special about Friday night’s 22-21 victory over rival Stoughton at Anthony L. Sarno Field.
When Jake Ragusa stopped Guy Eddy at the two-yard line on the final play of overtime, preventing the Black Knights from getting the two-point conversion that would have won the game, the Bulldogs stormed onto the field, cheering a win that keeps them in the Davenport title race, possibly clinches a spot in the postseason, and avenges last year’s heartbreaking defeat.
Still, this felt like more than all of that.
Even 20 minutes after they had cleared the field, with the players piled into two buses for the short ride back to Canton, the cheering had not abated. It felt like the Bulldogs had officially arrived and earned the marquee win to prove that this is a program to watch.
“We’re just on top of the world,” said Canton coach Dave Bohane. “To have those moments like that, you cherish them.”
“I told them before the game that I think our program is heading in the right direction,” he explained. “I think we’re going to be pretty good down the road, but I think tonight is going to be a night you remember as the night that it turned.”
As has been the case all season and as would be expected against a rival and a team that has been in the running for the Davenport title each year since the league split, the victory was not easy.
The first half was ugly for the Bulldogs with the offense sputtering in the rain. Penalties and a pair of turnovers gave Stoughton the ball in Canton territory on its first three possessions. The Black Knights opened the scoring with 5:27 left in the first when Christian Hill’s 19-yard run set up a 1-yard Guy Eddy touchdown.
But that was all Stoughton would get in the first half. Ragusa sacked Stoughton quarterback Jake Gibb twice, sophomore Jude Albert showed the ability to stick with receivers downfield and the aggressive Bulldogs defense bottled up the ground game at the line of scrimmage.
“Our defense kept us in the game,” said Bohane. “Our defense gave us a chance to win that, no doubt.”
Canton finally got something going on its final possession of the half. Ragusa was the main man with nine carries for 59 yards on the drive and finished it with a two-yard dive that gave Canton the lead with 16 seconds before the break.
The lead barely lasted to halftime. Steven Elice took the ensuing kickoff 90 yards to paydirt only to have his celebration cut short by a holding call at midfield.
After the break, it was more of the same. The rain may have cleared but the field was still slick and the defenses were in control. Donnie Foley, Devlin Carroll, and Josh Czuba on the Stoughton side and Woanyen Mahn, Joe Bires, and Djimon Harding for Canton were all dominating play and neither side could find any rhythm offensively.
The Black Knights finally got a spark when Elice recovered a Bires fumble at the Canton 35 with the clock winding under five minutes to play. Gibb hit Ryan Sullivan for 11 yards and a first down and then four plays later he hit Eddy in the flat and the running back took it 18 yards for the go-ahead score. The two-point conversion was no good and the lead was 12-7 with 2:41 left to play.
Canton answered right back. The drive started at the Bulldogs’ 43 and was kept alive by junior quarterback Dennis Ross, who kept a fourth down play alive long enough to find Ragusa on the sideline for the first down. Three plays later, Ross looked downfield and found Michael Harris for a 35-yard touchdown pass into double coverage.
Mahn added the two-point conversion and it was 15-12 Bulldogs with just 1:18 left.
“He didn’t get a lot of reps last year,” said Bohane of his starting QB, Ross. “We just need to get better throwing the ball so we spent a lot of time doing it this week and we did it.”
“I don’t know how pretty that play was but I’ve been on the other end of that so many times, I’ll take it.”
Stoughton coach Greg Burke was still wondering how it was that Harris got open on the play. He said, “I thought we should’ve batted it down at least. Two guys were on him, but, you know, what can I tell you.”
The Black Knights were not done. Similar to the game against Milford two weeks ago, the Canton defense let up for just a second and Gibb was able to hit Elice on a slant that went for 43 yards down to the Bulldogs seven with :32 seconds left. Gibb (8-17, 105) threw incomplete on first down, gained two yards on second and missed Eddy in the flat on third.
Facing a fourth down decision, Stoughton received a delay of game penalty that backed the Knights up to the 10. From there, Burke made the choice to go with the field goal.
“It was 10 yards and we didn’t have any timeouts left,” he said. “You just go with the percentage there. I’m going to take the chance that we kick it through. We screwed it up on the pass before that…but we had to go for that.”
Stoughton went for it and Gibb’s kick was hit by at least one Canton player (possibly two) but went through the uprights with 11 seconds left to send the game to overtime.
On its first possession, Canton faced fourth down from the two and rather than go for a Thomas Monagle field goal, Bohane went to Ragusa (24 carries, 116 yards) and the senior plowed into the end zone for his second touchdown of the night.
Gibb scored for Stoughton with a two-yard run of his own. Burke decided to go for two rather than try an extra point and the Knights gave the ball to Eddy on a sweep right but Ragusa read it all the way and made the stop that gave Canton the win.
“We’re going for the win,” said Burke. “I called a timeout and the [ref] didn’t listen to me. I called a timeout; we were going to change and pass the ball. We just wanted to see how they lined up.”
“I thought we did a good job defensively…I just figured we could win it.”
About his senior captain, who made plays on both sides of the ball in overtime, Bohane remarked, “He’s like the straw that stirs the drink. Him and Joe (Bires), they’re the guys that we rally around. Hopefully we keep winning and those guys will be in discussion for MVP of the league.”
Bohane took a moment to reflect on where he was and the emotions of the evening. The Bulldogs have won four times this season and three of those were in OT, but Bohane admitted that this one felt a little different.
“Last year’s game was an absolute kick in the stomach to us, coaching staff and players, so to have this happen just…it’s just a great feeling and I’m so proud of my guys.”
Josh Perry can be contacted at JoshPerry@hockomocksports.com and followed on Twitter at @Josh_Perry10.
Today’s games are listed below.
Game of the Week – Football
Foxboro, 10 @ Canton, 7 – Final
1st Quarter: (C) Woanyen Mahn 4 yard rush, Thomas Monagle XP good.
2nd Quarter: No scoring.
3rd Quarter: (F) Mark Clagg 43 yard pass to Ronnie Martin, John Cronin XP good; J. Cronin 29 yard field goal.
4th Quarter: No scoring.
Attleboro, 42 @ Taunton, 6 – Final
1st Quarter: (A) Brendan Nunes 14 yard rush, Lewis XP good; (A) John Burns 35 yard rush, Lewis XP good.
2nd Quarter: (A) B. Nunes 51 yard rush, McKenna XP good; (A) J. Burns 4 yard rush, McKenna XP good.
3rd Quarter: (A) Ethan Dubeau 15 yard rush, McKenna XP good.
4th Quarter: (A) Sam Corrado 2 yard rush, XP failed; (T) Jason DaRosa 1 yard rush, 2pt failed.
Mansfield, 7 @ King Philip, 15 – Final
1st Quarter: No scoring.
2nd Quarter: (M) Brian Lynch 40-yard pass to Nick Graham, D. DeSousa XP good; (KP) Giovanni Fernandez 1-yard rush, Z. Boari XP good.
3rd Quarter: No scoring.
4th Quarter: (KP) Alex Olsen 1-yard rush, John DeLuca 2-point rush.
Oliver Ames, 8 @ Milford, 42 – Final
1st Quarter: (M) Zach Lanzetta 19 yard pass to Blake Hill, Sean Lehane XP good.
2nd Quarter: (M) Z. Lanzetta 30 yard pass to B. Hill, S. Lehane XP good; (M) Z. Lanzetta 14 yard pass to Leo Moronta, S. Lehane XP good; (M) Z. Lanzetta 23 yard pass to Jack DeSantis, S. Lehane XP good.
3rd Quarter: No scoring.
4th Quarter: (M) B. Hill 1 yard rush, S. Lehane XP good; (M) Shapel Feaster 45 yard rush, S. Lehane XP good; (OA) Aidan Connly 4 yard rush, Kyle Gagliardi 2pt rush.
Sharon, 14 @ Stoughton, 34 – Final
1st Quarter: (Sto) Christian Hill 4 yard rush, XP failed.
2nd Quarter: (Sto) Ryan Sullivan 7 yard rush, 2pt failed; (Sto) C. Hill 5 yard rush, R. Sullivan 2pt rush.
3rd Quarter: (Sto) Jordan Taylor 1 yard rush, Guy Eddy 2pt rush.
4th Quarter: (Sha) Juvan Elisma 1 yard rush, 2pt failed; (Sto) Nick Hardy 10 yard rush, XP fail; (Sha) J. Elisma 25 yard rush, 2pt good.
Franklin @ North Attleboro – Postponed to 10/3 at 4:00
North Attleboro, 0 @ Attleboro, 3 – Final – Zach Rodrigues scored once in the first half and then again in the second half to pace the Bombardiers over rival North. Junior Coca also scored a first half goal for Attleboro.
Foxboro @ Oliver Ames – Postponed to TBA
Franklin, 2 @ King Philip, 0 – Final – Hatim Brahimi put the visitors in front off an assist from Brian Czuba and Franklin took a 1-0 lead into the break. Senior Nick Parent then iced the game with a late goal in the second half off an assist from senior Austin Kent.
Taunton, 1 @ Mansfield, 4 – Final – Five minutes into the game, sophomore Sean Lanzillo put the hosts on the board off an assist from Jack Rielly. Just over 15 minutes later, senior Jared Miller doubled the lead for the Hornets off an assist from Charlie Rogers to take a 2-0 lead into the break. Five minutes into the second half, Lanzillo set up Rogers for Mansfield’s third goal and just 10 mintues later Brendan Sullivan finished off a pass from Jareme DiLoranzo to make it 4-0. Austin Botelho scored a late goal for Taunton.
Milford @ Stoughton – Postponed to TBA
North Attleboro, 5 @ Attleboro, 1 – Final – Sophomore Haley Guertin and senior Hana Caster linked up three times for the Rocketeers to get a big win on the road over rival Attleboro. Caster set up Guertin for North Attleboro’s first and third goals while Guertin set up Caster for the Rocketeers’ fourth goal. Leah Jette scored North Attleboro’s second goal off an assist from Felicity Monfils and Caster added her second on a breakaway. Paige Medeiors scored Attleboro’s goal.
Canton @ Sharon – Postponed to TBA
Foxboro @ Oliver Ames – Postponed to TBA
King Philip, 0 @ Franklin, 2 – Final – Bailey Knous and Alexis Stowell each scored goals for the Panthers.
Taunton, 0 @ Mansfield, 2 – Final – Jackie Carchedi had a goal and an assist for the Hornets. Jen Kemp had the second goal and Emily Gaumond made four saves to record her fifth shutout of the season.
Stoughton, 0 @ Milford, 2 – Final – Katie Brown and Kristen Franzini each scored for Milford and Maggie Boyle had her fourth assist of the season. Stoughton goalie Marissa Williams made 12 saves in her first game back from injury. Stoughton head coach Tara Daniels said Samantha Tullis, Sarah Quattrucci, and Sarah Widrow kept Stoughton’s back field strong.
North Attleboro, 3 @ Attleboro, 0 – Final
Oliver Ames, 3 @ Foxboro, 2 – Final – Oliver Ames picked up its third straight win with a 25-20, 20-25, 22-25, 25-17, 15-9 win on the road. Bridget McCarthy led Oliver Ames with 48 assists and Emma Petrillo controlled the offense with 22 kills.
Franklin, 3 @ King Philip, 1 – Final – The Panthers picked up a key Kelley-Rex win with scores of 28-26, 26-24, 19-25, 25-21. Dayna McCue had 30 digs and four aces, Aubrie Kutil and Beth Neal each had 10 kills while Kutil added an ace and Neal had a pair of aces and blocks and 13 assists. Franklin Head coach Kate Horsmann said Caroline Maguire had a huge role defensively at the net with four blocks and three kills. For King Philip, Josie Rowean led the team in attacks and had six service points in game one, Gwen Uyrus added seven service points in game two, Emma Lopez had eight service points in game three, and Amanda Loewen had five digs.
Taunton, 3 @ Mansfield, 2 – Final – In a back and forth affair, Taunton snapped its three game skid with a 11-25, 29-27, 25-20, 16-25, 15-12 win. Tatum Speicher wa the catalyst for the offense with 39 assists, six digs and three kills. Molly Sullivan had 29 serve receives and 16 digs while Meghan Navarro solidified the back row with 15 digs and three aces. Mansfield sophomore Meg Hill had 13 hills, Juliana Newell added eight kills and Jess Haradon had 17 digs.
Milford, 2 @ Stoughton, 3 – Final – Stoughton rallied from a 2-1 deficit to pull off a 13-25, 25-18, 23-25, 25-23, 15-13 win in thrilling fashion. Stoughton senior Bianca DeSousa had 20 assists, 15 digs, 27 service points and 10 aces and sophomore Valerie Whalen had 15 blocks and 6 kills. Stoughton head coach Ken Gay said Elizabeth Slade had outstanding defensive play for the Black Knights. For Milford, Jill Powers had a team-best 12 kills while Kara Halpin, Aleye Momodu and Kayla Antonellis each had seven kills apiece. Lauren Zouranjian and Allie Collins combined for 41 assists.
Taunton @ Mansfield – Postponed to 10/30 at 3:30
Mansfield, 160 @ North Attleboro, 166 – Final
Canton, 171 @ Franklin, 180 – Final – Canton sophomore Jack Goyetch was the match medalist, shooting a 40 for the day. Bryan Woelfel shot a 43 for the Panthers.
Click here for a photo gallery of the game.
By Ryan Lanigan, Editor-in-Chief
STOUGHTON, Mass. – It’s not often teams can throw a sophomore under center and get the results North Attleboro did on Friday night.
Chad Peterson earned the starting job at quarterback and in his fist career game, delivered a memorable performance as North Attleboro took down Stoughton, 14-6, in the HockomockSports.com Game of the Week.
It was a battle of two stout defenses but it was Peterson who ended up making the difference for the Rocketeers.
“I think he did a great job especially considering the fact he’s a sophomore and its first varsity game,” North Attleboro head coach Don Johnson said. “We think he’s going to be pretty good. He’s pretty mature for a sophomore.”
After North Attleboro’s defense forced Stoughton into a three and out to start the game, Peterson orchestrated an 11-play drive that went 63 yards for the lone offensive touchdown of the game for North.
Peterson started with comfortable throws to Ridge Olsen for nine yards and Nick Rajotte for 17 yards. Another nine yard completion to Olsen and a six yard carry from Nick Morrison gave the Rocketeers a first down at the Stoughton 26. The next three plays resulted in just two yards and North faced a 4th and 8 from the 24.
Johnson showed his confidence in the sophomore by not only electing to go for it, but letting Peterson throw it. Peterson looked calm in the pocket and delivered a perfect strike between two defenders to Olsen for 10 yards and a first. Two plays later, Peterson hit Morrison on the left side and he raced in for a 12 yard score. Connor Flynn’s extra point was good to make it 7-0 with 4:09 left in the first quarter.
The defenses for both sides continued to put in good work. North Attleboro’s next four drives in the first half ended in a punt, a fumble, another punt and on downs. Stoughton’s second drive ended in a punt again but the third drive was when the offense clicked.
On 2nd and 4 at their own 28, Stoughton went with running back Christian Hill (4 carries, 40 yards) for a gain of 26 yards. Ryan Sullivan rushed for three more and an incompletion had Stoughton facing a 3rd and 7. Gibb took the snap and fired a strike over the middle to Steven Elice who then did the rest of the work, racing past defenders on his way to a 43 yard touchdown. The extra point failed but the Black Knights cut the deficit to 7-6 with 10:28 in the second quarter.
A run from Hill went for 16 yards and then one from Sullivan went for nine more Sullivan was able to get two more for a first down and Hill pushed the pile for three more. A penalty on North Attleboro gave Stoughton a first down at the 14 yard line but Tom Reynolds, Josh Morrison and Davon Andrade got to Gibb for a sack and an 11 yard loss. On the next play, Nick Morrison sacked Gibb again for a loss of five.
Gibb hit Connelly for 12 yards to set up a field goal chance, but the kick was just wide to send the teams into halftime separated by just one point.
Click here for a photo gallery of the game.
Things got worse for the Black Knights at the break as Gibb, who has started since his sophomore year, was out for the second half with an upper body injury.
Stoughton’s defense again came up big on the first drive of the second half as Sullivan intercepted Peterson. The Black Knights went three and out but got the ball back when Connelly forced a fumble on the punt return and Nick Hardy recovered it. But just a few plays later, North Attleboro got the ball back when Kyle Gaumond intercepted a pass from Dave Cellucci in the end zone.
“They stepped up and made some big plays when we needed them,” Johnson said of the defense. “Especially when we were sputtering a bit there on offense then they defense stepped up so it was nice to see.”
The Rocketeers produced their longest drive of the game, going 78 plays on 16 plays but Stoughton’s defense stood tall to stuff Peterson on a fourth down rush by a couple of inches. As Stoughton looked to try and take the lead, Gaumond came up big again. Gaumond elevated for an interception right around midfield and returned it the entire way for a 49 yard score. Connor MacIver’s extra point split the uprights to make it 14-6 with 1:38 left.
On the ensuing kickoff, Hill took the ball all the way back in North Attleboro territory to the 38 yard line. Xzavian Marrero rushed for 15 yards and three from Sullivan put the Black Knights at the 20 yard line. The teams traded penalties before North Attleboro’s stepped in front to intercept a Stoughton pass to ice the game.
“You hold your breath on just about every play with these guys,” Johnson said of Stoughton. “They have so many guys that have the ability to break a big one. You just have to be able to contain them and I think we were successful at it tonight.”
Peterson finished 12/18 for 95 yards and a touchdown and 45 yards rushing on 13 carries. Ridge Olsen had five receptions for 39 yards and Nick Rajotte had three catches for 32 yards. Defensively, Gaumond had two interceptions, McCarthy had one pick and Bobby Mylod, Nick Morrison, Tom Reynolds, Josh Morrison and Davon Andrade all had their hand in at least one sack.
For Stoughton, it will be a wait and see with Gibb.
“I don’t know Gibbs scenario but it’s probably not good,” Stoughton head coach Greg Burke said. “But we just have to hang in there.
“It was a hard fought battle, no doubt about it. We’re a different team with Jake [Gibb]. But that’s the way it is, you’re only as good as your backups. We worked hard and got the ball back and had some opportunities but it’s would of, could of, should of now. For the first game, they are a good team. We bent a little bit but he missed on some opportunities. I think the kids played hard.”
Burke was happy with his defense, which allowed just one touchdown to North’s offense and kept the Rocketeers under 200 yards.
“That’s a great thing for defense,” Burke said. “I’ll take seven anytime. We have a lot of new guys playing defense. We’ve got to correct our mistakes this week. We gave a good effort, if we didn’t get the effort I wouldn’t be talking right now but the kids played hard.”
The win marked North Attleboro’s first win over Stoughton since 2011 when the Rocketeers won in overtime.
Both teams are in the D3 Southwest division for the playoffs so a rematch down the road could be in the cards.
“Maybe we’ll see them later on this year,” Burke said.
North Attleboro (1-0) will host Bishop Feehan (0-1) next Friday at Community Field. Stoughton will try to get back on track against the state’s top team Marshfield (1-0) on the road on Friday night.
Click here for a photo gallery of the game.
Ryan Lanigan can be contacted at RyanLanigan@hockomocksports.com and followed on Twitter at @R_Lanigan.