Black Knights Start on High Note With Big Win

Stoughton junior captain Jon Lessa fires a wrist shot in the third period against Milford. (Ryan Lanigan/HockomockSports.com)
Stoughton junior captain Jon Lessa fires a wrist shot in the third period against Milford. (Ryan Lanigan/HockomockSports.com)

By Ryan Lanigan, Editor-in-Chief

BROCKTON, Mass. – Even though it was just the second period of the first game of the year, there were some positive takeaways for Stoughton.

After the Black Knights extended their lead to two goals with 6:19 to play in the middle period, Milford responded within 30 seconds to grab the momentum and cut the deficit to one.

But this year’s Stoughton showed resiliency, battling to gain the momentum back, scoring the all important next goal in the final two minutes of the second period and taking care of business in the third period to open the season with a 5-1 win over the Scarlet Hawks.

“That was huge,” Stoughton head coach Dan Mark said of the late second period goal. “In past years, we’ve fallen apart. We’ve been up two goals, like against Attleboro and Foxboro last year, and normally we fall apart. We didn’t fall apart and I thought our guys played hard.”

Despite a 13-6 advantage in shots and two big chances, the Black Knights headed to the locker room in scoreless tie at the first intermission. Milford’s Jonathan Chase made a nice move just 90 seconds into the game but his bid at the near post was stuffed by Stoughton freshman goalie AJ Scott (16 saves).

The Black Knights had two chances back to back in one sequence but Milford goalie Brian Ireland (30 saves) came up big both times. First Ireland got his pad down for a kick save on chance from Jon Lessa and then after the puck cycled around, Lessa had a open wrist shot right in the slot but Ireland got the handle of his stick in the way to push it over.

“He’s very good, he had a lot of shots against him and played well,” Mark said of Ireland. “Their whole Milford team played really hard, I give them a lot of credit.”

It didn’t take long for Stoughton to take the lead in the second period, finding the back of the net just over two minutes into the period. Senior captain Mark Sheehan picked up possession in the corner, skated towards the front of goal and tucked it in past Ireland to make it 1-0.

Stoughton doubled its lead with 6:19 left when Lessa found junior Ryan Chipman out in front for the one timer.

That’s when Milford snatched the momentum back. Just 22 seconds later, Milford’s RJ Stansbury centered a pass that eighth grader Griffin Burns hit one time to find the back of the net to make it 2-1.

From there, the Black Knights were able to overcome any push from Milford and with with 1:49 left, Stoughton freshman Carter Gerome notched his first career goal right in front to get the two goal cushion back. Since the Scarlet Hawks only had nine skaters, Stoughton knew the third period would be a time to use their skating to push the pace.

“We told the kids to keep playing hard until the end,” Mark said. “We actually had a couple captains speak up because they’ve experienced [losing the lead] before. They spoke up in the locker room to push in the third period.”

To seal the deal, Stoughton’s Sheehan sent in a centering pass less than a minute into the third period that deflected off a skate and in, leaving no chance for Ireland. Lessa added a fifth goal right in front off a feed from Donnie Foley with 6:17 left in the third.

“It’s going to be a learning process trying to figure out if we can move guys from defense to forward and double shift and things like that,” Milford head coach Mike Balzarini said. “As far as the nine skaters we had, I thought we did a good job and the kids never gave up. Even when we were down in the third period the kids didn’t give up. As far as the effort I’ve very pleased. There’s always room for improvement, even with just nine guys.

Stoughton (1-0) matches its win total from last year and will try to make it two when they travel to Stoughton on Monday night. Milford (0-1) will look to break into the win column on Wednesday when they host Attleboro.

“This is great,” Mark said. “We didn’t win until our last game last year and the kids liked the feeling of winning. I think it’s great for the kids, it’s great for them. It’s great to get a win early in the season.”

Ryan Lanigan can be contacted at RyanLanigan@hockomocksports.com and followed on Twitter at @R_Lanigan.

Saturday’s Schedules & Scoreboard – 12/12/15

Today’s games are listed below.
Girls Basketball
Attleboro, 71 @ Moses Brown, 51 – Final

Mansfield, 55 vs. Medfield, 39 – Final – Julianna Newell scored 15 points to lead the Hornets to a win in the MIAA Tip Off Showcase, which raised money for the Joe Andruzzi Foundation. Caroline Maher added 13 points for Mansfield while Jen Peel had eight points and six assists and Meg Hill had eight points and 11 rebounds.
Hockey
Mansfield, 0 vs. Winthrop, 0 – Final

Milford, 1 @ Stoughton, 5 – Final – Mark Sheehan scored twice, Jon Lessa had a goal an assist while Ryan Chipman, Barry Cooke, Carter Gerome, Eoin Doherty, Donnie Foley and Nick Hardy all recorded a point in the win. Milford’s Griffin Burns scored off an assist from RJ Stansbury. 

Oliver Ames, 5 vs. Quincy, 2 – Final – Five different players scored – Matt Mancini, Jared Costello, Jack Maloney, Evan DiMartinis and Max Ward – to lift the Tigers to a season opening win.
Wrestling
Scituate Tournament (Canton), 10:00AM
Foxboro @ Danvers, 10:00AM
Mt. Hope Tournament (Franklin, Stoughton) – Franklin’s A squad finished in second place at the tournament. 
Devin Ness Memorial Tournament (King Philip, Oliver Ames) – Oliver Ames’ Shea O’Connor and Pat Mills each won at their weight class as the Tigers finished in fourth. King Philip finished in sixth. 
Lincoln-Sudbury Quad (Mansfield) – The Hornets broke even, going 2-2 on the day. 
Tewksbury Quad (Milford) – Milford went 3-0 at the Tewksbury quad with Ryan Nesta, Ryan Gray and Nick Johnson each going 3-0. 
North Attleboro Quad (North Attleboro) – North Attleboro went 3-0 on the day.
Sharon Quad (Sharon) – Sharon went 3-0 on the day with wins over Pembroke (53-30), Plymouth North (42-36) and Walpole (42-39). 
Norton Quad (Taunton) – The Tigers went 2-1 with wins over Durfee and Nauset. Justin Bradley (126), Jorge Rodrigues (138), Nuno Camara (182) and Santiago Lopez (220) all went 3-0 on the day.
Indoor Track (@ Reggie Lewis Center)
Boys
Attleboro, 44 vs. Franklin, 55 – Final – Franklin got first place finishes from Luke Gordon (38.35) in the 300M and the high jump (league best 6-01.00), Jimmy Robbins (2:51.40) in the 1000M, Paul Kroushl (1:34.50) in the 600M, Ryan Spelman (4:44.39) in the 1 Mile and both the 4×200 and 4×400 relay teams. Attleboro was paced by first place finishes from Isaiah Rodrigues (6.87) in the 55M dash and in the long jump (18-10.25), Brett Szlachciuk (10:47.38) in the 2 Mile, Jacob Hardy (league best 50-05.00) in the shot put. Attleboro’s Patrick Collins (44-07.50) and Nathaniel Joyal (41-08.50) finished second and fourth, respectively, in the shot put. 

Canton, 23 vs. Sharon, 73 – Final – Sharon’s Oliver Hu was first in the 55M dash (league best 6.84), Matthew Hoffman was first in the 300M (39.93), Tieqi Sun was first in the 1000M with a time of 2:57.61, Tianrui Sun (league best 4:44.08) was first in the 1 Mile, William McManus was tops in the 55M hurdles (league best 8.20), both 4×200 and 4×400 relay teams were first and Carlos Grullon had a league best 20-03.00 in the long jump. Canton’s Patrick Hession was first in the 600M at 1:30.14 and senior Mark Clancy was first in the 2 Mile at 10:38.87 (PR and state qualifier) and second in the 1 Mile at 4:47.32.

Foxboro, 61 vs. Stoughton, 39 – Final – Foxboro’s Hunter Williams finished first in the 300M at 41.27, Danny Rounds came in first in the 600M at 1:37.09, Will Regan (2:54.85) was first at the 1000M, Alton George (37-03.25) and Jack Lovely (36-11.00) were first and second in the shot put and Eseosa Omuemu was first in the long jump (19-01.50). For Stoughton, Clifton Gerring was first in the 55M dash at 6.96 and first in the high jump at 5-05.00, Cameron Bean was first in the 1 Mile at 4:50.84, Colin Cochran was first at the 2 Mile at 11:23.87 and Alexander Oliver (8.74) was first in the 55M hurdles.

King Philip, 39 vs. Taunton, 61 – Final – Taunton’s Brian Cherenfant ran away with the 300M with a league best time of 37.31 and finished first in the long jump at 18-06.75. Matthew Holt (38.59) finished second in the 300M. Jimmy Hoye (1:31.24) was first in the 600M, Zac Bentley was first in the 1000M at 2:48.28, Dylan Lynch (4:48.81) took first in the 1 Mile, Trevor Wysong (10:16.48) was first in the 2 Mile, Lance Law was first in the high jump at 5-09.00. King Philip’s Sean Garrity was first in the 55M dash at 6.85, Ethan Dunne was first at the 55M hurdles at 8.38 and Paul Macrina came in first at the shot put at 43-03.50.

Mansfield, 62 vs. North Attleboro, 38 – Final – Devin Maughn was first in the 300M at 37.95 for Mansfield, Kyle Amerantes finished first at the 600M in 1:29.18, Jack Crawford (2:43.92) and Kevin Crawford (2:45.73) were first and second in the 1000M, Nick Rispoli (4:48.77) came in first in the 1 Mile, Jake Affanato recorded a league best time of 10:14.17 in the 2 Mile, Jareme DiLorenzo came in first in the 55M hurdles (8.25) and Kevin McCree was best in the shot put at 40-02.75. North Attleboro’s Nick Rajotte finished first in the 55M at 6.92, both the 4×200 and 4×400 teams came in first, Matt Tarantino was first in the high jump at 5-11.00 and John Thompson was first in the long jump at 19-04.50. 

Milford, 28 vs. Oliver Ames, 72 – Final – OA’s Doug MacDonald topped the 55M race at 6.94, Belmund Rodrigues-Pires finished first at the 300M in 37.59, Michael Braga was first in the 1000M at 3:01.60, Jarod Boone (4:45.23) finished in the first spot in the 1 Mile, Troy Kent (10:44.79) was first in the 2 Mile, Jack Gangemi topped the shot put at 34-00.00, Jack MacAdam came in first in the high jump at 5-05.00 and Kalil Matier was best in the long jump at 19-01.50. Milford’s Cam Clark won the 55M race at 7.08, Jared Luce took the 600M race at 1:33.26 and Luis Goncalves was first in the 55M hurdles at 8.91.
Girls
Attleboro, 16 vs. Franklin, 84 – Final – Franklin’s Jessica Kroushl came in first in the 55M dash at 7.71, the 300M race at 43.54 and the long jump at 16-02.25. Meghan Doherty had a league-best time of 1:43.55 in the 600M, Brittany Robinson (league-best 3:14.00) and Sabrina Roche (3:16.13) came in first and second respectively in the 1000M, Ella Gutkowski grabbed first in the 1 Mile in 5:56.82, Sarah Goodermuth was first in the shot put at 28.02.25 and Lauren Farnan was first in the high jump at 4-07.00. Attleboro’s Quincy Harding took first in the 55M hurdles at 9.72 and was second in the long jump at 16-00.00.

Canton, 39 vs. Sharon, 61 – Final – Ariadne Tolay finished first in the 600M at 1:44.91, sophomore Amanda Brown (3:29.86) was first in the 1000M, Heather Seggelin took first in the 1 Mile at 5:55.67, Maria Gieg was first in the 2 Mile at 12:35.04, Brigid Loftus won the 55M hurdles at 10:08 and freshman Geena Lesser took the high jump at 4-07.00. Canton’s Selena Cho won the 55M (state qualifier 7.87), the 300M (54.78) and the long jump (state qualifier 15-04.25), Kelly Dever won the shot put at 28-03.25 and Hannah Link came in second in the 300M and third in the 55M in her first track meet. 

Foxboro, 68 vs. Stoughton, 32 – Final – Foxboro’s Shraeya Srinivasan was first in the 55M at 7.76 and the long jump at 16-08.50, Berlendah Dure was first in the 300M at 44.86, Meredith Cronin (league-best 5:36.46) came in first in the 1 Mile, Lexi Quinn was first in the 2 Mile (12:14.09), Marina Wright was first in the 55M hurdles at 10.13 and Kelsey McDonald was first and tied for a league best 4-11.00 in the high jump. Stoughton’s Marissa Williams claimed first in the 600M at 1:58.71, Julia Bobeck was first in the 1000M at 3:36.76 and Nashadee Guerrier got the win at the shot put at 29-09.00. 

King Philip, 40 vs. Taunton, 60 – Final – Taunton’s Jill Purtell was first in the 55M hurdles at 9.65 and in the long jump at 16-10.25, Sam Tichelaar got the win in the 55M dash at 7.85, Leishnaly Rosado came in first in the 300M at 45.74, Samantha Grundy was tops at the 1000M at 3:20.89 and junior Amanda Baptiste (12:52.78) and eighth grader Tatyana Mainer-Smith (12:55.76) came in first and second respectively in the 2 Mile. King Philip’s Lucy Hamilton got a first place finish in the 600M at 1:46.91, Sarah Butts won the 1 Mile at 6:19.45, Emily Cote was first in the shot put at 27-07.50 and Abigail Mckeown finished first in the high jump at 4-09.00.

Mansfield, 46 vs. North Attleboro, 54 – Final – In the tightest meet of the day, North Attleboro was led by a first place finish in the 2 Mile by Ann Roberts (league best 12:06.23), a win at the shot put from freshman Julia Mechlinski (30-06.50), a first place finish from senior Nicole Boulanger (tied league best 4-11.00), and a first place finish from Isabelle Renzi in the long jump at 16-10.25. Mansfield’s Lauren Waters had a league best finish at 7.58 in the 55M dash, Kelly Crawford had a league best time of 42.41 in the 300M, Rachel Stier had a first place finish in the 600M at 1:46.96, Caitlin Whitman finished first in the 1000M at 3:17.00, Emma Oldow had a first place finish the the 1 Mile at 5:56.08 and Alicyn McHugh finished first in the 55M hurdles at 10.45.

Milford, 33 vs. Oliver Ames, 67 – Final – Sophomore Elizabeth Nuss got the win for the Tigers in the 55M dash at 8.11, Lauren Wright came in first in the 600M at 1:44.62, junior Dana Lowney, junior Jessica Robarge and senior Erin Fitzgerald finished 1-2-3 in the 1000M, Gabby Eldridge was first in the 55M with a league-best time of 9.47, Chi-Chi Akanegbu was first in the shot put at 35-10.50 (league best) and Comfort Udo came in first in the high jump at 4-09.00. Milford’s Gabby O’Neil was first in the 300M race at 46.42, Jenise Madden (5:50.23) was first in the 1 Mile, Gabriela Chong (12:41.61) was first in the 2 Mile and Christina Speliakos was first in the long jump at 15-11.00. 
Girls Hockey
King Philip, 3 @ Norwell, 2 – Final – Molly Alfond, Olivia McCarthy and Casie Curtin scored for the Warriors.

The 2015 Hockomock Football All Stars & HMs

FootballMVPs
Below are the official Hockomock League Football All Stars, selected by the coaches in the league.

Kelley-Rex MVP

Nick Morrison, North Attleboro

Hockomock Kelley-Rex All Stars

Kyle Murphy, Attleboro
Brendan Nunes, Attleboro
Alex Silva, Attleboro
Brian Letourneau, Attleboro
Luke Gordon, Franklin
James Cooke, King Philip
Billy Dittrich, King Philip
Josh Schafer, Mansfield
Connor Finerty, Mansfield
Hunter Ferreira, Mansfield
Nick Morrison, North Attleboro
Bobby Mylod, North Attleboro
Josh Morrison, North Attleboro
Chad Peterson, North Attleboro
Connor Flynn, North Attleboro
Carlos Borrero, Taunton

Honorable Mentions

Sean Donnelly, Attleboro
Nick Yelle, Franklin
John DeLuca, King Philip
Nicholas Martin, Mansfield
Kyle Gaumond, North Attleboro
Connor Briggs, Taunton

Davenport MVP

Jake Ragusa, Canton

Hockomock Davenport All Stars

Jake Ragusa, Canton
Joe Bires, Canton
Woanyen Mahn, Canton
Austin Ryan, Foxboro
Connor Downs, Foxboro
Connor McNamara, Foxboro
Ronnie Martin, Foxboro
Zach Lanzetta, Milford
Blake Hill, Milford
Connor Moroney, Oliver Ames
Matt Cancian, Sharon
Jake Gibb, Stoughton
Matt Soto, Stoughton
Guy Eddy, Stoughton
Ryan Sullivan, Stoughton
Donnie Foley, Stoughton

Honorable Mentions

Mack Brown, Canton
James Blake, Foxboro
Jack DeSantis, Milford
Ryan McCarthy, Oliver Ames
Tyler Smith, Sharon
Matt Medina, Stoughton

The 2015 Hockomock Football All Stars & HMs

FootballMVPs
Below are the official Hockomock League Football All Stars, selected by the coaches in the league.

Kelley-Rex MVP

Nick Morrison, North Attleboro

Hockomock Kelley-Rex All Stars

Kyle Murphy, Attleboro
Brendan Nunes, Attleboro
Alex Silva, Attleboro
Brian Letourneau, Attleboro
Luke Gordon, Franklin
James Cooke, King Philip
Billy Dittrich, King Philip
Josh Schafer, Mansfield
Connor Finerty, Mansfield
Hunter Ferreira, Mansfield
Nick Morrison, North Attleboro
Bobby Mylod, North Attleboro
Josh Morrison, North Attleboro
Chad Peterson, North Attleboro
Connor Flynn, North Attleboro
Carlos Borrero, Taunton

Honorable Mentions

Sean Donnelly, Attleboro
Nick Yelle, Franklin
John DeLuca, King Philip
Nicholas Martin, Mansfield
Kyle Gaumond, North Attleboro
Connor Briggs, Taunton

Davenport MVP

Jake Ragusa, Canton

Hockomock Davenport All Stars

Jake Ragusa, Canton
Joe Bires, Canton
Woanyen Mahn, Canton
Austin Ryan, Foxboro
Connor Downs, Foxboro
Connor McNamara, Foxboro
Ronnie Martin, Foxboro
Zach Lanzetta, Milford
Blake Hill, Milford
Connor Moroney, Oliver Ames
Matt Cancian, Sharon
Jake Gibb, Stoughton
Matt Soto, Stoughton
Guy Eddy, Stoughton
Ryan Sullivan, Stoughton
Donnie Foley, Stoughton

Honorable Mentions

Mack Brown, Canton
James Blake, Foxboro
Jack DeSantis, Milford
Ryan McCarthy, Oliver Ames
Tyler Smith, Sharon
Matt Medina, Stoughton

Ground Game, Defense Lead Stoughton Over Foxboro

IMG_2339_2
By Ryan Lanigan, Editor-in-Chief
FOXBORO, Mass. – If there’s one thing that Stoughton football has been able to hang its hat on for the past couple of years, it’s been defense.
If there was a second thing, it’d be running the ball.
With New England Patriots owner Robert Kraft on hand for part of the first half, Stoughton used those two signature traits to pick up a key 14-0 win over previously unbeaten Foxboro on Friday night, keeping their playoff hopes alive and throwing their hat into a three way tie for the lead in the Davenport with the Warriors and Canton.
“It was a great game,” Stoughton head coach Greg Burke said. “We’ve got some tough kids and we finally got our running game going and we went back to our three or four plays, that’s all we need. I don’t know what they had for total offense [yardage]. I think we deserved the win, I really do. The kids played great defense. Foxboro ran around a little bit but we made sure the kids stayed in their zones. We worked on not running around and not losing guys.”
The defense set the tone for the Black Knights, forcing a fumble and recovering on Foxboro’s opening drive only for it to be erased by an offsides call. But just two plays later, Stoughton was stuffing the Warriors on a fourth down rush to force the turnover on downs.
That’s when Stoughton’s second signature – the running game – came into play. Of the 50 plays that Stoughton ran on offense (minus a pair of QB kneels), 46 if them were either counters, sweeps or bursts right up the middle.
The first 11 of those plays were all rushing plays with Ryan Sullivan, Jake Gibb, Jordan Taylor and Izon Swain-Price all contrubting. On the 11th play of Stoughton’s opening series, Swain-Price broke a tackle up the left side and ran in for a 19 yard touchdown. Gibb’s extra point was good the Stoughton took a 7-0 lead.
The Warriors moved the ball some to start their next drive but eventually stalled at the start of the second quarter near midfield and were forced to punt. Quarterback Mark Clagg started in shotgun before dropping all the way back to punt formation. He took the snap and then took off running but Stoughton’s defense was alert and made the stop to get the ball back on downs.
Once again Stoughton went to the ground and moved the ball, highlighted by a 15 yard run from Taylor (13 carries, 60 yards). The Black Knights faced 3rd and 2 from the Foxboro nine yard line but a false start pushed them back five yards and a tipped pass on third down went incomplete. Gibb attempted a 31 yard field goal but it was just wide to the right.
Stoughton’s defense forced Foxboro into a punt six plays later but the Black Knights would be forced to kick it back. With under a minute to play, Stoughton attempted to punt but Jamaine Few came flying in for the block to give the ball to Foxboro at the Black Knights’ 32 yard line.
The Black Knights’ defense came up with a play right away though as Xzavian Marrero used good vision on the first play to get an interception and put an end to any hope of the Warriors scoring in the first half.
Coming out at halftime the Black Knights were able to double the lead on the opening drive. Nine yards from Sullivan on first down was followed two plays later by a sneak from Gibb to move the chains. Sullivan ran for seven more then Guy Eddy added four. Swain-Price’s (10 carries 97 yards) speed was key on the next play as he raced 55 yards to get inside the Foxboro five yard line, only stopped by a great hustle play from Austin Ryan.
Two plays later, Sullivan (15 carries, 61 yards) dove into the end zone to make it 14-0 Stoughton with 7:13 left in the third quarter.
“We just couldn’t establish any rhythm,” Foxboro coach Jack Martinelli said. “It was 7-0 at half and we’ve been there before. They came out and did what every coach wants his team to do. If you have the ball you want to score and make it a two score game and they did that. Give them a lot of credit.”
It was a much improved look for Stoughton’s offensive line, who had struggled in the opening game of the season weeks ago. Now with some changes, Matt Soto, Matt Medina, Brendan Walsh, Donnie Foley, Lino Azul and tight end Jack Connelly stood tall and helped Stoughton rack up 245 yards on the ground.
“It’s a whole new line and they’re strong kids,” Burke said. “They are tough and blood and guts and they don’t quit. They’ve done great and they’re getting better. We’re back in the hunt for the league title now but the big goal, our first goal is to get into the playoffs. We have to win next week. I’m just so proud of the Stoughton kids, we’re never going to quit. They are as tough as they come. They could have packed it in after last week but they didn’t, they worked harder.”
oxboro put together it’s longest drive of the game next, moving into Stoughton territory to the 36 yard line but an incompletion on second down was followed by a sack from Stoughton senior Devlin Carroll and the Warriors had to punt again. The Black Knights, who didn’t complete a pass on three attempts, were able to kill more of the clock on six running plays before having to punt.
Marrero was at it again just two plays later as he leaped up to haul in his second interception and gave the ball back to the Black Knights.
“Terrific, he had two huge interceptions,” Burke said.
With the win, Stoughton improves to 3-3 overall but more importantly, 3-1 in the Hockomock League’s Davenport Division. Foxboro suffered its first loss and missed out on a chance to clinch at least a share of the division title. The Warriors now sit at 5-1 overall and 3-1 in the division. Canton, a team that beat Stoughton but lost to Foxboro, is also 5-1 and 3-1 in the Davenport, meaning there could be a three-way tie for the title if all three teams win next week.
Stoughton will travel to Milford and Canton will take a trip to Sharon on Saturday the 24th while Foxboro travels to Oliver Ames on Friday the 23rd.
Ryan Lanigan can be contacted at RyanLanigan@hockomocksports.com and followed on Twitter at @R_Lanigan.

Overtime Heroics Carry Canton to Win At Stoughton

Jake Ragusa
Jake Ragusa (20) rushes for his second touchdown of the game to give Canton a lead in overtime at Stoughton on Friday night. (Josh Perry/HockomockSports.com)

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.”

Canton will go on the road to face Oliver Ames next Friday, while Stoughton will travel to Davenport leader Foxboro.

Josh Perry can be contacted at JoshPerry@hockomocksports.com and followed on Twitter at @Josh_Perry10.