MANSFIELD, Mass. – The first game back in September was a surprising shootout, but the rematch in the pouring rain on Friday night at Alumni Field was more of what has come to be expected from battles between Mansfield and King Philip.
Defense was the story of the Div. 2 South final. The Hornets scored a touchdown on their opening possession but were held off the board for the remainder of the game, while the Warriors were held without a touchdown until midway through the fourth quarter.
King Philip came away with a hard-hitting 10-7 victory over its division rival, securing its third straight trip to the Super Bowl at Gillette Stadium.
“There’s playing teams and then there’s playing Mansfield,” King Philip coach Brian Lee remarked. “You know what you’re going to get and it’s just how are you going to move the ball when they’re big and mean and tough and we’re just trying to find a way.”
Mansfield took the lead midway through the first quarter, taking advantage of a short punt to score its only touchdown of the game.
After a three-yard punt, the Hornets got the ball at the KP 37 but then backed up 10 yards on a pair of false starts. On third and 15, Aidan Sacco was able to pull the ball down and scramble for 16 and a first down. Two plays later, Sacco again found space to run and rumbled in untouched for a 16-yard score.
The ensuing kick was fielded at the one by Aidan Bender, but he returned it 47 yards out to midfield. The Warriors were unable to make it count, but the defense got the ball right back.
KP forced a Mansfield three-and-out and regained possession inside Hornets territory. Ryan Halliday (27 carries, 96 yards), with help from a defensive holding call, got the ball down to the 21, but Mansfield held firm and forced a 38-yard field goal from Cole Baker that cut the lead to 7-3.
Mansfield had a chance to add to its lead before halftime when it go the ball back at midfield. The drive started poorly, as Sacco was sacked by Halliday and Max Armour, but a personal foul following an incomplete pass gifted the Hornets 15 yards and a first down. Sacco then hit Cincere Gill for 20 yards down to the KP 18, but two plays later Gill fumbled and Bender recovered for the Warriors.
“When they didn’t score before the half, I thought we were okay,” said Lee. “We couldn’t have played any worse offensively and made some mistakes on defense, but if we could get into the half and make our adjustments and only be down four I thought alright that’s KP football, we’re fine.”
The third quarter continued the trend where defenses were in control of the game. Even without Vinnie Holmes at linebacker, Mansfield was getting big plays from Chris Copponi and T.J. Guy. KP was getting typically strong performances from Armour and fellow linebacker Jack Webster to stymie the Mansfield offense.
The score stayed the same heading to the fourth before KP finally got something going on the offensive side of the ball. The Warriors ate up six minutes with an 11-play, 51-yard drive to take the lead.
“We started just grinding it out, pounding it,” said junior quarterback Robbie Jarest about the go-ahead drive. “The line was doing really well, we were just grinding it out.”
Halliday continued to be the workhorse back, grinding out yards, including a two-yard burst to convert a fourth and one. On second and six, KP called for a bootleg from Jarest and he bounced it to the outside for 11 yards. On third and six, Jarest scrambled and managed to dive ahead for nine and another first down to the Mansfield 12.
On the next play, he hit David Morganelli just outside the goal line for a first and goal from about a foot, which Jarest finished off with a sneak.
The Hornets had 5:38 on the clock to try and get back the lead. Back-to-back nine-yard gains by Gill and Joe Plath got the ball out to the 43. After an eight-yard gain by Khristian Conner pushed the ball into KP territory, Mansfield took a chance downfield. Sacco tried to squeeze a pass in down the middle but it was picked off by Deric Casado at the 16.
On third and eight, again KP turned to its quarterback on a bootleg and Jarest weaved his way through the Mansfield defense for nine yards and a dagger first down that sealed the win.
“Robert gave us a little wrinkle at the end that was just enough,” said Lee. “That’s kind of what we do at KP, just enough. He’s really done a great job stepping up, taking the coaching, and I’m really proud of his efforts.”
No one was quite sure what to make of this KP team at the start of the season. With no returning starters on offense, this didn’t seem like a Warriors team that could make it back to the state title game, but here they are again booking a trip back to Gillette Stadium with eyes on a three-peat.
“It’s a very different team and it’s presented challenges along the way but they still have the same theme, which is keep believing, keep working,” Lee explained. “The one thing that stayed from the last two years is their work ethic and their belief that they can pull it off.”
He added, “We have heart, we have guts, we have teamwork, and we use it on this team better than anybody. Anybody can be a hero on a different play.”
King Philip (8-2) will face Franklin on Thanksgiving Day and then take on North champion North Andover in the Div. 2 title game. Mansfield also finished the season at 8-2 and will finish its season with its Thanksgiving Day rivalry game against Foxboro at Fenway Park.
WRENTHAM, Mass. – Coming off a difficult, emotional, last minute loss to Mansfield in last week’s title showdown, there was concern that King Philip may have a letdown against Thanksgiving Day rival Franklin. Both teams came into week five with one league loss and a setback on Friday night at Macktaz Field would effectively end that team’s chances of a league title this season.
The Warriors set aside any worries about the impact of last week’s loss by jumping out to an early lead and then put the Panthers away in the second half with 21 unanswered points.
KP beat Franklin 35-14 behind three touchdown passes from junior quarterback Robbie Jarest to earn its 13th straight victory in this series dating back to Thanksgiving 2009 and to stay just one game back of Mansfield in the division standings.
“I was definitely a little nervous about that,” KP coach Brian Lee said. “Our guys were talking about our maturity level and our compete level and [the Mansfield loss] was disappointing…but you’ve got to keep looking forward. You’ve got to think about playoffs and keep your eyes on a new direction.”
For Panthers coach Eian Bain, this was a missed opportunity for his team to earn that elusive marquee win against one of the league’s perennial powers.
“Our guys work hard,” Bain said. “But, it’s three years of working hard and not quitting and, eventually, we need to take the next step as a program and when that happens it’s going to be up to our team. King Philip isn’t getting off the pyramid and Mansfield’s not stepping off to give it to us, we need to go get it.”
The Warriors wasted no time in setting aside the disappointment of last week, driving 65 yards on eight plays on the opening possession of the game to take the lead.
Helped by a personal foul call against the Panthers and 26 yards on the ground from Ryan Halliday (25 carries, 134 yards), KP got the ball inside the red zone. Jarest (6-13, 94 yards) finished the drive by hitting Timmy Nault, who ran an angled route across the middle of the Panthers’ secondary, for an 18-yard score.
The KP defense was typically aggressive and allowed only one first down on Franklin’s first two possessions. Jack Webster’s sack pushed the Panthers back inside their own 10 and KP took advantage of solid starting field position to double the lead.
Halliday went up the middle for 21 yards on a draw that put the ball at the Franklin 28. Two plays later, on third and 10, Jarest again found the open receiver, connecting with Deric Casado for a 28-yard strike and a 14-0 lead.
“Every week he gets a little better,” said Lee about Jarest. “He gets a little crazy at times, but you saw it tonight, we’re feeling a little more comfortable with him, having more trust in him, and that’s only going to make our offense better. Our receivers are coming along too.”
Franklin got a much-needed response on its next drive. After an 11-yard run by Owen Palmieri, a 15-yard pass interference call moved the ball down to the KP 32-yard-line. A pair of Webster tackles at the line of scrimmage and an incomplete pass left Franklin facing fourth and nine, but Nick Gordon was able to hit Sean Leonard for 28 yards down to the three. Three plays later Gordon punched it in from a yard out.
KP got the ball back with 5:38 left in the half at its own 19. The Warriors proceeded to use up all but seven seconds of the quarter and got as far as the Franklin 21, but were forced to settle for a 42-yard field goal attempt from Cole Baker. The kick was on line but fell just a yard short and the score remained 14-7 at the break.
The Panthers went into halftime with the momentum, but KP turned that around quickly in the third quarter. The Warriors forced a three-and-out, scored a touchdown, forced a fumble and added another score to break the contest wide open in a little more than six minutes of game time.
“I felt like they had all the mojo,” said Lee. “They held us down there and I felt like, okay we’re in a game here. Now you’ve got to withstand that burst and they did that. They had a good response, so I was pleased.”
Jack Norgren returned the Franklin punt to the Panthers’ 47. From there, Halliday carried the ball five times for 22 yards. On first down from the 25, Jarest tossed his third score of the night, finding David Morganelli on a go-route down the left sideline to extend the lead back to two scores.
The Warriors pinned Franklin back at its own 13 on the ensuing kick-off and then two plays later Max Armour and Halliday forced a fumble when Gordon tried a keeper up the middle. Morganelli recovered the loose ball at the 12. On the next play Halliday, with a giant push from his offensive line, carried a pile of players into the end zone to make it 28-7.
Casado’s solid coverage on Leonard forced a turnover on downs inside the KP 30 on Franklin’s next possession and the Warriors turned it into another score. Sam Callanan (five carries, 46 yards) gave Halliday a rest and took the bulk of the plays on the drive. He found a seam on a toss to the left and was able to scamper home with a 12-yard rush that made it 35-7 with eight minutes remaining.
Gordon (5-13, 138 yards) did get the Panthers a consolation score just a minute later on an 84-yard pass to Ryan Driscoll, who showed off his speed in out-running the KP secondary from one sideline to the opposite corner. But, Nault intercepted a Gordon pass on the next possession to cap off an impressive second half display from the Warriors.
“It was Mansfield all over again,” Bain reflected. “There were moments where we could’ve made a play or two and maybe we don’t win but it’s a different game. We’ve got to turn it around because we’ve got two more left and if we want a shot at hosting a playoff game, then we’ve got a lot of work to do.”
Today’s games are listed below.
Game of the Week – Football
Stoughton, 7 @ Canton, 14 – Final – Click here for a Recap and Photo Gallery from this game.
1st Quarter: No scoring.
2nd Quarter: (C) Johnny Hagan 1-yard rush, Owen Lehane XP good.
3rd Quarter: (C) Kyle Fitzgerald 9-yard rush, O. Lehane XP good.
4th Quarter: (S) John Burke 10-yard pass to Alex Iverson, Josh Cocchi XP good.
Attleboro, 32 @ Oliver Ames, 6 – Final
1st Quarter: (A) Justin Cote 5-yard rush, 2pt rush failed.
2nd Quarter: (A) J. Cote 1-yard rush, 2pt rush failed; (A) Jason Weir 24-yard rush, J. Weir 2pt rush good.
3rd Quarter: (OA) Cam Perron 1-yard rush, XP blocked; (A) J. Cote 11-yard rush, 2pt pass failed.
4th Quarter: (A) J. Weir 29-yard pass to Jacob Weatherford, XP failed.
North Attleboro, 34 @ Foxboro, 0 – Final
1st Quarter: (NA) Nick Raneri 3-yard rush, XP no good; (NA) Brendan McHugh 2-yard rush, 2pt conversion failed.
2nd Quarter: No scoring.
3rd Quarter: (NA) B. McHugh 11-yard rush, N. Raneri 2pt rush.
4th Quarter: (NA) N. Raneri 13-yard pass to Ryan Gaumond, Tyler DeMattio XP good; (NA) Jacob Silva 3-yard rush, T. DeMattio XP good.
Franklin, 14 @ King Philip, 35 – Final – Click here for a Recap and Photo Gallery from this game.
1st Quarter: (KP) Robbie Jarest 18-yard pass to Timmy Nault, Cole Baker XP good.
2nd Quarter: (KP) R. Jarest 28-yard pass to Deric Casado, C. Baker XP good; (F) Nick Gordon 1-yard rush, Parker Chevrant XP good.
3rd Quarter: (KP) R. Jarest 25-yard pass to David Morganelli, C. Baker XP good; (KP) Ryan Halliday 12-yard rush, C. Baker XP good.
4th Quarter: (KP) Sam Callanan 12-yard rush, C. Baker XP good; (F) N. Gordon 84-yard pass to Ryan Driscoll, P. Chevrant XP good.
Mansfield, 34 @ Taunton, 14 – Final
1st Quarter: (M) Cincere Gill 70-yard rush, 2pt failed; (T) Noah Leonard 1-yard rush, Coby Adams XP good; (M) Aidan Sacco 6-yard rush, C. Gill 2pt rush.
2nd Quarter: (M) Vinnie Holmes 21-yard rush, Michael DeBolt XP good. (T) N. Leonard 14-yard rush, C. Adams XP good.
3rd Quarter: No scoring.
4th Quarter: (M) C. Gill 17-yard rush, 2pt failed; (M) V. Holmes 34-yard rush, M. DeBolt XP good.
Sharon, 7 @ Milford, 42 – Final
Stoughton, 1 @ Norwood, 3 – Final – Stoughton’s Ted Lucas scored his first career goal to cut the deficit to just one late in the game but the Mustangs tacked on an insurance goal to seal the win.
Foxboro, 5 @ Sharon, 0 – Final – Foxboro came out firing on all cylinders, scoring five goals in the first half to earn two points on the road. Jordyn Collins set the tone inside the opening minute, taking a pass from Lizzy Davis and scoring to put the visitors ahead. Kenzi Fraser, Kailee McCabe, Katie Hunter, and Katelyn Mollica (from Kaitryn Franchino) all scored once for the Warriors.
North Attleboro, 1 @ Braintree, 0 – Final – North Attleboro bounced back from a loss to Foxboro with a solid non-league road win. Ashlyn Gaulin scored the game’s only goal when she followed up her own shot that had caromed off the crossbar and she tapped in the rebound. North coach William Wallace praised the play of Kayla Pasquel, Haley Ferrin, Lydia Santos, and Bri Westcott in the middle of the field. Emma Noreck earned the clean sheet in goal.
Stoughton, 0 vs. Norwood, 3 – Final
Franklin, 4 @ Attleboro, 0 – Final – Cassi Ronan set up a pair of goals in the first half and the Panthers scored two more in the second half to beat Attleboro. Ronan assisted on Regan Paterson’s goal that put the Panthers up 1-0, and then set up Victoria Quinn as Franklin took a 2-0 lead into half. Sara Carney and Stephanie Bell each scored unassisted goals in the second half and Anna Jardine made four saves in goal for the shutout.
Canton, 3 @ Milford, 0 – Final
Foxboro, 4 @ North Attleboro, 0 – Final
King Philip, 6 @ Oliver Ames, 1 – Final – Meghan MacDonald, Alli Meehan, and Nicole Connor all scored in the first half, helping the Warriors build a 3-0 lead that it never relinquished in a win over Oliver Ames. Abby Nixon had an assist on MacDonald’s opening goal with 12:49 left in the first half. Meehan set Connor up with 4:41 left in the half, and then switched roles for a 4-0 lead less than three minutes into the second. Meehan finished with three goals and an assist and sophomore Olivia Kulesza added a late goal for KP. Oliver Ames sophomore Brynna Courneen scored her first goal of the season off a penalty corner in the second half.
Mansfield, 0 @ Taunton 0 – Final – Taunton goalie Emma Sheehan made 10 saves to help keep the contest equal.
Stoughton, 2 @ Sharon, 0 – Final – Allie Howe and Haley Nelson each scored once in the second half to lead the Black Knights to a win on the road at Sharon.
Canton, 3 @ Milford, 1 – Final – After splitting the first two sets, Canton won a close third game and went on to finish the match with a 3-1 victory (25-15, 18-25, 25-23, 25-16). Erin Devine has a great night for the Bulldogs, finishing with 12 kills and six blocks. Taylor Harris added nine kills, two blocks and 12 digs, Nicole Brown continued to impress with 22 assists, five kills, three aces and 11 digs, and Emily Morrison and Megan McDonough (five aces) combined for 19 digs.
Foxboro, 1 @ North Attleboro, 3 – Final
King Philip, 3 @ Oliver Ames, 0 – Final – King Philip went on the road and recorded a 3-0 sweep (25-7, 25-21, 25-20) against Oliver Ames. KP middles Catherine Waldeck (12 kills, two blocks) and Nicole Coughlan (seven kills, five blocks, two aces) both had strong games for the Warriors while, Kat Kmetz added 12 digs, two kills, and a pair of aces, and Shayla Weitzman finished with 14 digs, four aces, and 13 service points. For Oliver Ames, senior Jackie Raymond had eight aces, senior Sadie Homer finished with 36 digs, and junior Allie Kemp had 16 assists.
Mansfield, 3 @ Taunton, 2 – Final – Mansfield fell behind 2-1 but battled back to win the fourth set, and went on to win the decisive fifth set for a win over Taunton (16-25, 25-23, 24-26, 25-17, 15-7). For Mansfield, Greenly Kelly had nine kills, four blocks and 14 service points, Sam Sternberg added 15 digs and 10 service points, Olivia McGrath had a nice game with 13 kills and 10 service points, and Katie Dardinski chipped in with nine digs and 13 service points.
Stoughton, 3 @ Sharon, 1 – Final
King Philip, 158 @ Attleboro, 173 – Final
Foxboro, 173 @ Taunton, 174 – Final
Foxboro, 173 @ Oliver Ames, 153 – Final – Oliver Ames picked a pair of wins, including a divisional victory, by beating Foxboro and Taunton in a tri-match at Pine Oaks. Nolan Donze paced Oliver Ames with a 36, Liam Barry shot 38, Ryan Bock carded a round of 39, and Justin Shapiro finished with a 40.
Taunton, 174 @ Oliver Ames, 153 – Final
Franklin, 163 vs. Medway, 178 – Final – Franklin defended its home course against non-league foe Medway on Friday afternoon. Quinten Faro paced the Panthers with a team-low round of 40 while Matt D’Errico and Jack Paterson each shot a 41.
North Attleboro, 191 @ Sharon, 160 – Final – Ethan Skelly shot a 37 and Corey Carter shot a 38 to Sharon to a win at the Cape Club of Sharon. Max Brody carded a 41 and Andrew Glaser shot 44 to contribute to the win.
King Philip quarterback Robbie Jarest (12/20, 206 yards, 3 touchdowns) found Tim Nault (four receptions, 58 yards, three touchdowns) for an 18-yard touchdown with just 39 seconds to go in the game, bringing the visiting Warriors to within just one point.
The Warriors elected to go for the win, keeping the offense on the field for a two-point attempt. But pressure from a leaping TJ Guy off the left side forced Jarest to loft a throw off his back foot, and the pass fell short, sealing a 28-27 win for the host Hornets in the HockomockSports.com Game of the Week.
“That was about as good as it gets,” said Mansfield head coach Mike Redding. “You go into overtime, you just never know. I think they had a good play call, and on the road, you go for the win. We’re lucky we survived it. They made so many plays in the last five minutes, I’m glad we survived the last one and got the win out of it. This was a great game with two great teams battling literally until the last play. This was as good as it gets in high school.”
King Philip had a 14-7 advantage to begin the second half, but Mansfield scored three times during a span of 2:17, scoring two touchdowns late in the third and one on the first play of the fourth to seize a 28-14 advantage.
Things were looking good for the Hornets, as they carried that lead over five minutes into the fourth. But the Warrior refused to quit. After starting at midfield, Jarest found Nault on the fifth play of the drive – again on fourth down – for an 11-yard score, getting with one touchdown, down 28-21 with 4:08 to play.
KP’s defense did its part, forcing a three and out and Nault put the Warriors in good position, taking the punt return to the Mansfield 49-yard line with just 2:06 left. After three straight incompletions, Jarest hit Deric Casado for 19 yards and a first down with 1:38 to go. Two plays later, Jarest connecting with Casado again and used a sneak to get a first down at the 18-yard line with 57 seconds left.
Jarest hit Nault for a touchdown on the next play, setting up the two-point conversion attempt.
“On the road, I just wanted to go,” said KP head coach Brian Lee of the decision to go for two and the win. “I would have liked to have a timeout, get the right play call that we wanted there but in the end, we wanted to go for it, I’m just not sure we had what we wanted. We had to burn a lot of timeouts in the third quarter and that kind of put us in a bind down the stretch.”
While King Philip’s comeback attempt was impressive, Mansfield’s stretch to end the third quarter and begin the fourth was a complete game changer.
The Warriors opened the second half with a 14-7 lead and the ball. In typical fashion, KP marched down the field on 11-plays, moving into Mansfield territory and eating up over five minutes of clock.
But the Hornets got the stop they needed and forced a turnover on downs. Two plays into Mansfield’s ensuing drive, quarterback Aidan Sacco (seven rushes, 66 yards), kept the option play himself and scampered 42 yards. Two plays later, Cincere Gill took the jet sweep to the left side for a 7-yard touchdown, tying the game 14-14 after Michael DeBolt’s extra point (4/4 PAT).
“We felt like if we could score and tie it at home, we could get some momentum. We just had that run there where everything went right. Give [King Philip] credit, it looked like they were on the ropes and they battled back and found a way to get it to one play to win the game, and we made a good defensive play. These are two good football teams, I guarantee we’ll play again. I just hope its in the South final and not the first or second round.
King Philip tried to pass for a first down on its next series, but Mansfield’s Vinnie Holmes leaped into the air to snag an interception, giving the Hornets terrific field position. On Mansfield’s first place, Nick Marciano bounced off a tackle up the middle, cut out to the right, and then cut back past two defenders to give Mansfield a 21-14 on a 31-yard touchdown rush.
On the ensuing kickoff, Mansfield’s Sean Weber was able to knock the ball free, and junior Jack Cappelletti pounced. Two plays later, Sacco kept it himself and went for a 23-yard touchdown on the first play of the fourth quarter.
“We talked about what we needed to fix at halftime, and we just came out in the second half and made plays,” Sacco said. “The defense stepped up and made plays, the offense had some big runs, and I think that helped us.
“We like to establish the run game early on, and we have the three backs. With those three, when the third and fourth quarters come around, they aren’t expecting me to pull it and run. We used it a couple of times and got a couple of breaks and capitalized on it.”
With 10:51 left in the game, Mansfield led 28-14.
“I think that stop [early in the second half] and then Aidan popped a big one,” Redding said of what turned things around. “Just getting it tied up, we were able to feed off that. We got another stop and got the momentum and the crowd behind us, and I think they had a turnover, and we were able to take advantage of.
“Just having that fourth running option makes a big difference. It’s hard to defend three good backs, but when you add the QB as the fourth, it can really complicate things defensively.”
For as entertaining as the second half was, neither team really settled in during the first half. Both teams opened with a punt, and then the Warriors capitalized on a bad snap on the second Hornet drive for great field position. Mansfield’s defense held strong, and KP settled for a 23-yard field goal from Cole Baker with 3:31 left in the opening quarter.
Mansfield didn’t wait long to respond. On the first play of the next drive, Marciano found some space up the middle, cut back and turned on the jets, racing for an 80-yard touchdown and a 7-3 advantage.
KP’s offense marched 66 yards on its third drive, using 10 plays – mostly on the back of junior running back Ryan Halliday (27 carries, 90 yards) – to get close to the Mansfield red zone. But a big tackle for loss from Philip Dinov, and a tipped pass from linebacker Chris Copponi forced the Warriors to settle for a 33-yard boot from Baker.
The Hornet offense sputtered for the rest of the first half, and a punt-turned-run fell well short of the sticks. KP made the Hornets pay as Jarest connected with a wide-open Nault for a 24-yard touchdown. KP converted the two-point conversion, but it was called back for a hold. The Warriors went for two again anyways, and the pass was incomplete.
Mansfield ended up going backward 10 yards on its next drive, pinned deep in its own territory. On fourth down, Sacco killed some clock out of the punt formation before taking an intentional safety, giving KP a 14-7 lead with 1:56 left in the half.
“I will say, the one thing that we’re doing decent right now, is that when we’re on the field, we compete,” Lee said. “We still make a lot of mistakes which is on me. I don’t think we’re overly talented but they compete, and they put themselves in a position to steal that game at the end. I think we can build on that because that was a tough team we played today.”
Redding said he felt giving up the two points on the safety was a better option than a Baker field goal, or a KP touchdown.
“We felt like they had a lot of momentum and we felt like if we punted out of our end zone, they were going to get the ball at the 30 or 35-yard line, and at minimum, they bang a field goal,” Redding said. “If they score, now we’re in trouble. We felt like if we went down seven, it was still in reach. Thank god the defense stopped them after the kick, or you really look like an idiot there. But we got it to seven and then got the stop and survived it. It just felt like we couldn’t get out of that end of the field.”
Mansfield football (3-1 overall, 2-0 Kelley-Rex) takes sole possession of first place in the Kelley-Rex with the win. The Hornets are back in action when they travel to Taunton (3-1, 1-1). King Philip (2-2, 1-1) will try to bounce back when it welcome Thanksgiving Day rival Franklin (3-1, 1-1) to Macktaz Field.
On Friday night, that help came in the form of special teams.
The Warriors leaned on a pair of good punt returns and their own punting game to win the field position battle, and as a result, a 17-0 verdict over visiting Foxboro.
Three of King Philip’s seven drives started in Foxboro territory, and all three resulted in points. The other four resulted in three punts and the end of the game.
“I was very happy with special teams, it really kept us in the game,” said King Philip head coach Brian Lee, who earned his 100th career victory. “But we have a lot of things we have to figure out still.”
King Philip’s defense had another strong showing after allowing just 14 points in the season-opening loss to North Attleboro. A sack from David Morganelli put a quick end to Foxboro’s first series.
A 23-yard punt return from Tim Nault gave King Philip’s offense a strong start, first down at the Foxboro 36-yard line. The Warriors got one first down on a Jack Webster run up the middle, but a tackle for loss from Foxboro’s Anton George and Will Ogbebor put the hosts in a hole.
KP quarterback Robbie Jarest (5-for-7, 32 yards) hit Morganelli (four catches, 35 yards) for an 11-yard gain but it was just short of the sticks. Junior Cole Baker drilled a 35-yard field goal to put the host Warriors ahead 3-0 with 4:05 left in the opening quarter.
King Philip’s defense stymied the Foxboro offense again during the second series, including a sack from Webster. This time the punt was hauled in by Aidan Bender just over midfield, and he raced it 35 yards back to the Foxboro 28-yard line.
Despite facing a 4th and 8, Jarest linked up with Morganelli for 11 yards to move the sticks. An offensive pass interference call moved the ball back at the end of the first quarter, but KP had an eight-yard scamper from Ryan Halliday (23 carries, 98 yards) and five more yards from Webster.
On 3rd and 7, Jarest rolled out right and hit Morganelli, who dove down to the 1-yard line. On the next play, Halliday went up the middle for a 1-yard touchdown and a 10-0 lead with 9:09 to play in the first half.
“Two bad punt coverages hurt us in the first half,” said Foxboro head coach Jack Martinelli. “It gave them great field position. We gave them short fields two or three times…they earned them, and we’re not good enough to play that way. We have a great kicker (Russell Neale), but we haven’t gotten into range to use him.”
Foxboro responded with its best drive of the game, moving into King Philip territory. The Warriors ran 11 plays for 50 yards, highlighted by passes from Liam Foley (9-for-21, 84 yards) to Keyshawn Sanders (8 yards) and Brian Derba (5 yards). Foley hit Shayne Kerrigan over the middle for 20 yards to convert a third down.
A 15-yard scramble from Foley gave Foxboro the ball at the King Philip 30-yard line but three plays later, King Philip’s Deric Casado tipped a pass and then came down with the interception to end Foxboro’s threat.
Baker punted for KP when its drive stalled, booting to the Foxboro 30-yard line. With a long field to go, Foxboro’s drive ended near midfield when time ran out on the first half.
Foxboro’s defense started the second half on a high note, forcing a punt. Again, Baker booted it to the Foxboro 30-yard line. Although Foley hit Pat Stapleton for 16 yards on the first play, a sack from Morganelli three plays later halted the drive.
Although Foxboro’s defense came up with a stop, KP continued to win the field position with another strong punt from Baker (47 yards). King Philip’s defense pushed the visiting Warriors back even further with losses of six and three yards on the first two plays.
On fourth down, Foxboro’s punt sailed out of bounds at its 36-yard line. Once again, King Philip cashed in on good field position.
This time the host Warriors ran seven plays to cover 36 yards, capped by a 3-yard touchdown from Halliday, who had gallops of 12 and nine on the drive. Baker’s extra point put KP up 17-0 with 9:13 to play.
“In the second half, when we were struggling on offense, to flip the field on the big punt from Baker was huge,” Lee said. “Punting and those two punt returns…short field allows you to be patient. It puts the defense in a bind right away. ”
After giving up just 14 points last week, King Philip’s defense had another strong outing. Foxboro had just 92 yards of offense and KP recorded four sacks and one interception.
“We felt good about our defense, and we’re going to lean on them to get us going. We’ll play the field position and go from there. I’m very pleased with the defense. We don’t have a superstar this year. There’s no Shane [Frommer], no Mark Glebus, so we all have to chip in, we all have to contribute.”
Foxboro (0-2) will try to break into the win column when it plays Stoughton (1-1) at Canton High School.
NORTH ATTLEBORO, Mass. – One team came into the game having won three straight league titles, making a Super Bowl appearance, and was inaugurating a new turf field, while the other team came in after back-to-back league and state titles and was riding a 25-game win streak. These were the two most successful programs in the Hockomock League over the last two seasons.
It was a game that was destined to come down to one play; to be decided by inches. That was exactly what happened.
Brendan McHugh broke a few tackles and tiptoed down the sideline to put North Attleboro in front for good with 1:33 remaining in the fourth quarter but King Philip drove inside the Rocketeers red zone and had two shots at the end zone before a last second pass was broken up at the goal line. North held on for the 14-7 victory to christen the newly-upgraded Raymond E. Beaupre Field and hand KP its first defeat since the penultimate game of 2015.
“I have no idea what happened,” McHugh admitted when asked about the game-winning touchdown. “I was staring at the ground and I thought I was going to fall, but I just stayed on my feet and just got to the end zone. I was close but I wasn’t out of bounds.”
When asked what this win meant for the team, he replied, “My senior year, we wanted to get them and we got them. So much confidence, that’s a hell of a team, that defense is legit and we grinded out a win.”
It was a battle of attrition, which both coaches had expected coming into the game. Both defenses were in control and both offense were finding their feet with a number of new faces. In the end, both coaches saw the positive from facing tough competition to kick off a new season.
“They came to play today against a very, very good team,” said KP coach Brian Lee. He joked, “I don’t know why we thought of playing them instead of scheduling someone easy a long time ago, but the truth is we learned so much about our team tonight. Playing a team like that in these conditions, they grew up fast tonight.”
North coach Don Johnson added, “We had to earn it. We had to work hard and earn it on both sides of the football. I think it’s a good confidence booster for those guys who are playing in their first game tonight.”
North took the lead just before the end of the first quarter with an eight-play, 67-yard drive. Senior quarterback Nick Raneri got the Rocketeers going with a 34-yard keeper that moved the ball down to the KP 29. Three plays later, Raneri barely eked out two yards on fourth down to keep the drive alive. Two plays after that, McHugh took a jet sweep to the right side of the line and was untouched for a 16-yard score.
The Rocketeers scored with 19 seconds left in the first. The Warriors scored 19 seconds later. Junior tailback Ryan Halliday (22 carries, 181 yards) bounced back from a fumble on his first carry of the game, bursting through the left side of the line, keeping his feet despite a diving attempt at a tackle by Luke LaBonte, and racing 80 yards for the tying score.
KP tried to keep the momentum going when senior corner Deric Casado made a highlight-reel, one-handed interception right in front of his bench, but the North defense was just as strong, forcing a three and out.
The game stayed tied coming out of halftime. KP started the half by continuing to put the ball into the hands of its new workhorse back, running Halliday into the North defensive line that was led by senior Ryan Clemente and junior Trevor Hewett.
North finally managed a long drive against the KP defense at the end of the third quarter with Raneri narrowly missing Ethan Friberg in the end zone after the junior got free down the seam.
“We felt pretty confident on that one and I think Raneri saw him so wide open that he just didn’t get enough on the football,” Johnson said of the missed opportunity. “He lofted it instead of just putting it on his hands and it seemed to take forever to come down.”
On the first play of the fourth quarter, freshman kicker Tyler DeMattio missed a 32-yard kick wide left and the game remained even.
KP’s next drive stalled at its own 46 after a holding call on third down. Cole Baker’s punt drove Ryan Gaumond back to his own 10, but the North senior scrapped for 24 yards on the return to give North at least a little cushion with which to start the drive.
After working a first down near midfield, North turned to McHugh (16 carries, 95 yards) again. The senior went for six yards to the right and then broke a sweep to the left for 14 yards down to the KP 33. After a timeout, McHugh took the ball around the left side in front of his own bench and the Warriors appeared to have him wrapped up only to stop thinking he had gone out of bounds. McHugh kept going, inches from the sideline for the go-ahead score.
“He’s that kind of guy,” Johnson said of McHugh. “He doesn’t even know he’s doing it half the time but he’s a threat to break anything at any time so there are times we say just give it to McHugh because he can create so much on his own.”
The Warriors took advantage of a new rule on the ensuing kickoff, calling a fair catch inside the 10 and automatically getting the ball at the 25. Junior Robbie Jarest rolled out to the far side and hit David Morganelli for 12 yards. Andy DeMattio nearly had a game-ending interception but could not hold on and the drive extended on a pass interference call on third down.
A 10-yard screen pass to Casado was followed by a 21-yard pass to Morganelli and suddenly KP was down to the North 17-yard-line with and the clock was stopped with eight seconds remaining. A false start backed KP up five yards, but Jarest just missed Morganelli in the back of the end zone on second down.
Here is the final play of the game as the pass is picked off by Matt Penta at the goal line with no time remaining, lifting North Attleboro to the win in the season opener #hockomock pic.twitter.com/PQOzcRL5wO
— Josh Perry (@Josh_Perry10) September 8, 2018
As the final horn sounded, the last gasp pass was picked off by Matt Penta at the goal line to seal the North win.
“I told them the second series is going to be better for you than the first and the third series will be better and the fourth and you settle down and confidence grows,” Lee said about what his team learned from that final drive regardless of whether or not it ended in a score. “They definitely believed they were going to win it at the end.”
North Attleboro (1-0) will be back on the Beaupre Field turf next week when it hosts rival Bishop Feehan. King Philip (0-1) will play another Davenport division team next Friday in its home opener, as Foxboro travels to Macktaz Field.
WRENTHAM, Mass. – Over the course of its 21-game win streak, King Philip has found a number of ways to come out on top, particularly in close games. Whether it is a big passing play, breaking a long run, or forcing an important turnover, the Warriors know how to grind out results week after week.
There was a lot of turnover from last season’s state title-winning roster and head coach Brian Lee has admitted that he was not sure how good the Warriors could be this fall, but the new faces have stepped right in where the previous team left off and continued to win.
On Friday night at Macktaz Field, KP extended its winning streak by another game, pulling out a 13-11 win against rival Mansfield, beating the Hornets for a second time this season and advancing to the Div. 2 South final. This is the third sectional final in the past four years for the Warriors.
Lee explained, “The kids just battle. They’re tough. They’re not much to look at but they battle and compete. I didn’t know if we’d be any good this year and somehow we’re here again.”
“We’ve got a lot of guys who are just laid back and chill and they know when to perform,” said junior linebacker Jack Webster. “They perform at the right times. We’ve got good confidence on the team. We’re just calm, cool, and collected and we just play team ball.”
After pulling away with a strong fourth quarter in the first meeting between the two teams, KP carried the momentum into this game.
The Warriors called for a reverse on the opening kick-off and Shane Frommer took it up the sidelines for 42 yards to start near midfield. Brendan Lydon (5-14, 69 yards) hit David Morganelli for 16 yards and then Frommer for 21 to get the ball into Mansfield territory. Three plays later, Frommer (24 carries, 110 yards) bounced a run to the outside for six-yard score.
“We score the first drive, everyone’s smiling, and I was like, ‘Remember, it’s going to be a long game,’ “ said Lee. He added, “I told them before the game, ‘I don’t know how it’s going to play. I don’t know what they’re going to do different this time. All I know is that it’s going to take the entire game.’”
After a three-and-out by the Hornets, Aidan Bender’s return gave the Warriors great starting field position at midfield. The Mansfield coaches were imploring the defense to come through with a big stop and that is exactly what the Hornets got, forcing three-and-outs on back-to-back KP possessions to settle the game down.
The first meeting changed on a first half interception and it looked like Friday’s game might too. Lydon was flushed out of the pocket by Nick Marciano and his pass was picked off by Hunter Ferreira, who returned the ball down to the Warriors eight and gave the visitors momentum. Three plays later, Damani Scott (5-15, 55 yards) punched it in from the half-yard-line.
The Hornets surprised KP by running a trick play rather than an extra point with Ferreira pitching it to Mike DeBolt for the conversion and an 8-7 lead.
The excitement on the Mansfield sideline was short-lived, as the Warriors returned the ensuing kick out to the 45 for another great starting spot. As usual, KP turned to Frommer and the Yale University-commit carried the ball five times for 42 yards on the drive, including his second touchdown of the game, this time from 10 yards out.
The Hornets had gone practically nowhere on offense to this point, but with 3:25 left in the half and starting at their own 23 Mansfield put together its best drive of the game. Scott hit Danny DeGirolamo for a 14-yard completion and Khristian Conner for eight yards, while sophomore Vinnie Holmes (17 carries, 89 yards) gave the Hornets a threat up the middle. Mansfield got the ball to the KP 16 and DeBolt nailed a 33-yard field goal with 8.4 on the clock to cut the lead to two.
Deric Casado had an interception to start the second half for KP, but the Warriors were held to one first down, Chris Graham making a big stop on Frommer on second down. Mansfield’s next drive got on the edge of field goal range but Evan Rice had a big third down sack that forced a Hornets punt. It was one of three second half sacks for the Warriors, who ratcheted up the pass rush in the second half.
“The coaches just made up a great defensive plan this week,” said Webster. “We knew what we’re doing and we attacked it.”
Mansfield coach Mike Redding said, “We played tough on Frommer, they did a great job on our run game, and we just needed to complete a few more passes. They’re as good a team as we play defensively every year, they make you work.”
The punt pinned KP down inside its own 10, but Webster managed three yards on third and three for a big first down then Lydon hit Morganelli for another third down conversion and Frommer picked up another with a nine-yard dive up the middle. The Warriors managed to get as far as midfield to switch the field position advantage.
“They got a lot of big first downs,” said Redding. “The Lydon kid hit a couple of outs, great throws on time. Field position was a killer. We always started in our end and gave them the ball at midfield way too much.”
The game seemed to be over when Makhi Baskin muffed a punt with about four minutes remaining, but again the Hornets held firm defensively with Conner making a big stop on Frommer on the sideline and Baskin redeeming himself with an interception at the goal line on fourth down.
Mansfield had one more shot. After a sack by Webster pushed the Hornets back five yards to their own 24, Scott hit Ferreira for his only catch of the game and the senior appeared to be out to the 40 for a first down. After some confusion, the officials marked him down at the 38, one yard short of the marker.
“I thought we completed the pass for 20 yards on [third down], someone’s got to explain that to me, but even with that I don’t know if we’ve got the time to get the field goal,” said Redding. “You just hate to see that in a big game, that kind of mismanaging of the stakes.”
On fourth down, Holmes tried to fight his way to the sticks but Webster was on the spot, as he had been all game, to make the stop that sealed the win.
“Fourth and one, I was daggering off the outside,” Webster explained, “and Jack Piller made a great play and everyone just collapsed on him and pushed him back. It was a great team effort.”
When asked what has made this KP roster continue to find ways to win, Webster said, “Shane Frommer and Andrew Dittrich, our two captains, have just made us play together, play great team ball, everyone’s made plays when we’ve had to…it’s just been a good team game.”
The respect for the Mansfield program and all that it has achieved is evident on the KP sidelines and Lee said that the strength of the Warriors’ rivals has pushed them to be even better.
“You know why I love Mansfield so much,” he said, “because they have made this program work so hard to compete against that and that’s how we’ve gotten better. You’re either getting crushed by them or you learn how to fight and our guys have responded.”
King Philip (9-0, 5-0), the top seed in Div. 2 South, advances to the sectional final and will host No. 3 Bridgewater-Raynham next Friday night. Mansfield (7-2, 4-1) has not set an opponent for next week.