After the Rocketeer defense stood its ground in the red zone and forced a turnover on downs, the North Attleboro offense put together a methodical drive that will define this year’s Davenport division champions.
Junior Tyler DeMattio (18 carries, 136 yards, two touchdowns) led the Big Red on a 20-play, 92-yard drive that took up 9:52 of game time, culminating in a gutsy 16-yard touchdown run from the quarterback with under three minutes to play, turning a three-point deficit into a 14-10 win for North Attleboro.
“That last drive was epic,” said North Attleboro head coach Don Johnson. “That’s one you don’t see too often, [a championship drive], I was very proud of them.”
Foxboro denied the Rocketeers a chance at the go-ahead score one drive earlier when junior Rashaad Way took advantage of a rare miscue from DeMattio, intercepting a floated pass right before the goal line with 4:44 to go in the third quarter.
The Warriors used that momentum to march down field, putting themselves in position to increase their lead. Highlighted by back-to-back first down runs from Dylan Gordon (seven carries, 47 yards) and a 27-yard pass and catch from Cam Prescott to Way, the hosts moved across midfield.
Way hauled in a 23-yard pass to convert a third down and get down to the North 5-yard line. From there, North’s defense buckled down, sending the Warriors backward on first and then forced three straight incompletions, the final one knocked away in the end zone by Matt Penta to keep the Rocketeers down just three, 10-7, with 0:31 left in the third.
DeMattio had nine carries on the drive for 71 yards, converting a 3rd down very early in the drive, keeping it himself to move the sticks on 4th and 1 from the North 33-yard line, scrambled for 7 yards and a first on 3rd and 5 just over midfield and then converted another 4th and short just before the touchdown. North also got key carries from Jacob Silva (10 carries, 52 yards), Tommy Whalen (nine carries, 36 yards), and Alex McCoy (eight carries, 37 yards) on the drive.
After Luis Sulham and Jon Moses combined for a tackle for loss, North was faced with 2nd and 13 from the 16-yard line. DeMattio brought Whalen in motion to the left and then kept it himself after the play action, sprinting to the left side of the line, following the block of both Silva and senior lineman Harry Bullock. DeMattio then split through two Foxboro defenders and bounced off two more in the secondary, diving across the goal line for the touchdown.
“I’m running out of words for him but that run typifies him,” Johnson said. “He looks exhausted and you wonder if he can do it on the next play, and you try not to give it to him every down but he just finds a way. He had to kick the extra point so I took a timeout just to rest him for a minute. He’s just a phenomenal kid, there aren’t many like him. He’s just so tough and he has the respect of all of his teammates.”
Foxboro’s ensuing drive got off to a strong start with a 9-yard run from Gordon and a 12-yard pass from Prescott to Sulham but two plays later, Bullock and Robbie Donovan came crashing in for a 10-yard sack. Two incompletions later, the final one on 4th and 22 following a false start, turned the ball over on downs to clinch the win and division title for the Rocketeers.
“They left everything they had, every ounce of their ability and then some,” said Foxboro head coach Jack Martinello about his team’s effort. “[North Attleboro] is a good football team, give credit where credit is due. We had our chances to put it away but if you don’t take those opportunities against a good team, you give them a shot.”
After a postgame handshake with Johnson, Martinelli made his way across to the North Attleboro sideline to shake hands with DeMattio.
“I do when I think they are special,” Martinelli said of the postgame meeting with the North QB. “As much we knew when he was going to take it, you still have to stop him and we just weren’t able to. The kid is tough, he’s their best running back, and his ability to throw the ball this year has made it more difficult to defend him.
“He’s tough and they have other weapons, he has more around him this year than he did last year. So you have to respect all of them. It opens some space up but you have to watch out for their different formations with trips, two receivers, the motion, the whole nine yards. But they are a good team, [DeMattio] is special. We would have liked it to have ended a little differently but the kids left it all on the field.”
North Attleboro got off to a strong start, forcing Foxboro to go three-and-out on its opening drive. Starting at their own 37-line, the Rocketeers used 12 plays to cover 63 yards and took a 7-0 lead when DeMattio kept it himself for a 1-yard touchdown.
Foxboro’s defense forced a three-and-out on North’s second drive and the offense was able to take advantage. On first down, Prescott connected with Way down the left sideline for a 48-yard gain. Two plays later, Prescott fired a laser to Sulham right at the goal line for a 7-yard touchdown, making it 7-7 with 10 minutes left in the second.
North turned it over on downs in Foxboro territory and punted on its other two drives of the first half while Foxboro had its third punt of the game before halftime.
The Rocketeers started on offense in the second half but just two plays in, Foxboro’s Mike Norvish came in with a big hit to knock the ball free and junior Dylan Kerrigan, who had the original tackle, came up with the loose ball.
Helped along by a pass interference and misconduct call, Foxboro moved inside the red zone down to the North 10-yard line. After a pair of runs totaled just two yards and an incomplete pass in the end zone, Foxboro settled for a 25-yard field goal from Sam Carpenter to make it 10-7.
North had two turnovers and Foxboro was able to get inside the 10-yard line off both chances but ended up with just three points total.
North Attleboro (5-0) is taking next week off while Foxboro (3-2) will host Franklin on Friday at 5:30 in a crossover matchup.