Buoyed by five different touchdown scorers, Mansfield clinched the Davenport division title with a convincing 33-0 win over rival Foxboro, also notching its first shutout on Thanksgiving since 2009.
“We had a heck of a year winning the division and winning nine games,” said Mansfield head coach Mike Redding. “I think both teams have a lot to be proud of. And both teams have a lot of good players back and it will be fun next year for sure.
“I thought we had good balance. Just everything went our way in the first half…this was a great way to wrap it up against a good Foxboro team, and to play dominate. Especially coming off a tough playoff loss, this flips this season. Finishing at 9-2 is a lot better than 8-3 and losing your last two. We had two weeks to get ready, we worked hard on the field and in the weight room, just a great effort by our seniors.”
Senior linebacker Kyle Murphy was named the Don Currivan MVP for the Hornets while senior captain Jephte Jean earned the Matt McCue Lineman of the Game for Mansfield. Foxboro’s Lincoln Moore (Vin Igo MVP) and Andrew Finn (Jeff Parker Lineman of the Game) earned the honors for the Warriors.
“I’ve been playing with these kids since second grade, and we’ve worked year in and year out, and it’s a brotherhood really,” said Murphy, who missed last season recovering from an injury. “It means a lot for it to end in a satisfying way. We won’t get this chance to play together again but I’m grateful to share the field with these boys one last time.
“We were physical and we had a lot of energy. I think we wanted it more than them on every single play, it meant more to us.”
“He’s a great story,” Redding said of Murphy. “He didn’t play varsity last year coming off a knee injury. He had a phenomenal year on defense for us and I’m so happy for him to get the MVP today because he worked so hard to get back on the year.
“He came in this year like a man possessed. He was one of our best defensive players and played great football for us.”
Mansfield took control in the first quarter and never surrendered it the rest of the way. On the first series of the game, the Hornets only needed four plays before finding the end zone. Junior backup quarterback Connor Curtis came in after three plays, and although he’s been called on mostly to run with the ball, he slung a deep pass down the middle. Foxboro’s defensive backs were able to get their hands up, but the ball bounced back in the air and junior receiver Trevor Foley hauled it in with one hand and went the distance for a 47-yard touchdown. Travis Hennessy’s point after put Mansfield ahead 7-0 just over two minutes into the game.
Foxboro looked to mount a response with a lengthy drive and marched into Hornet territory. But on the 11th play of the drive, Mansfield junior Brandon Jackman read the play and jumped on a short pass, and took it to the house for a 77-yard interception return with 3:15 left in the opening quarter.
Mansfield’s defense delivered again, forcing a quick three and out. The offense was quick to reward the defense. Junior Tommy Smith, who started the year on JV but was called up due to injury after two weeks, broke free up the left sideline, following a great block from right tackle Jason Riley, who pulled to the left, and Smith raced away for an 80-yard touchdown, boosting Mansfield’s advantage to 20-0 with 40.5 seconds left in the first quarter.
“Things just snowballed early and we took control and made some great plays,” Redding said. “Tommy Smith stepped up big this year and ended up as our leading rusher and one of the best stories of the season.”
Foxboro had its best drive of the game in the second quarter, covering 59 yards on 15 plays to move inside the Mansfield 10-yard line after a 9-yard pass and catch from Mike Marcucella to Tony Sulham.
The Warriors tried to get the run game going with Moore (58 yards on nine carries) and sophomore Ben Angelini, but Mansfield’s front seven controlled the line. Jean and senior Colton Johnson combined for a tackle for a loss on first down, and then Hennessy, Murphy, and Ryan DeGirolamo combined for a third down stop. Foxboro’s 23-yard field goal attempt was just wide with 3:05 left.
“It felt really good to win this game,” Jean said. “We had a tough loss to Milford but we bounced back and it’s great to get a big dub on my final game in the Mansfield jersey.”
That was plenty of time for Mansfield to find the end zone again. Conner Zukowski (11/12, 167 yards) hit Drew Sacco for 15 yards on first down, then linked up with Foley for the first time for 35 yards. Zukowski hooked up with CJ Bell for 14 yards down to the 2-yard line. Despite some big tackles from Moore and junior Brandon Mazenkes-O’Grady on first and second down, Zukowski scrambled just inside the pylon for a 6-yard touchdown with just 17.8 seconds left in the half to make it 26-0.
“They were the better football team, pure and simple,” said Foxboro head coach Jack Martinelli. “They were a lot hungrier than we were. I guess we never really recovered from losing in the playoffs [on Saturday]. Give them all the credit, they executed better. We had some chances to make some plays early on but we didn’t make any plays.”
Both Mansfield and Foxboro entered the game undefeated through three games in the Davenport division, but the Hornets really didn’t have a blemish as they outscored their first three division foes 115-0 — yes, three games and three shutouts.
That trend continued as Mansfield continued the shutout in the second half. Foxboro started the second half with the ball but just two plays in, Bell hauled in an overthrow for an interception to get Mansfield the ball back.
That led to an eight-play, 66-yard drive from the Hornets. It started with a mix of Smith and Sacco, and then a 38-yard pass to Bell moved the sticks. Moore once again had a tackle for loss inside the five for the Foxboro defense, but Sacco plunged in from 2 yards out two plays later for the final score of the game.
“It was an emphasis at halftime that we didn’t want to give up any points,” Redding said. “We don’t really care if we score another point in the second half but let’s play defense. We haven’t gotten a shutout in this game in a long time. I don’t think we were aware of not being scored on in the division but it was more about getting a shutout on Thanksgiving against a really good team.
“Their film in September, they looked young but talented…their film in November, they looked really good,” Redding said of Foxboro. “They have a lot of good pieces, they’re going to be very, very good a year from now. And it’ll be another battle on Thanksgiving. They had a great year, Jack did an unbelievable job after they started 0-3 to turn it around and get to the final four.”
Mansfield football finishes 9-2 overall and 4-0 in the Davenport while Foxboro finishes at 6-6 overall and 3-1 in league action.
BELLINGHAM, Mass. – Foxboro senior kicker Sam Carpenter couldn’t have put his kickoff any closer to the goal line without it being a touchback.
Following a 67-yard touchdown pass from sophomore Mike Marcucella to classmate Nolan Gordon that brought the Warriors within 14-12 with 5:29 to play in the game, Carpenter booted one that Grafton’s Liam Donagher originally let bounce. Instead of crossing the goal line, the ball stopped bouncing just before the goal line with the Warriors kickoff team barreling down the field.
Donagher was forced to pick it up and return it, and with a handful of Foxboro players chomping at the bit to make a big stop deep in Grafton territory, he was able to get out to the left sideline, got around one final block and then raced all the way for a 99-yard touchdown to restore a two-score lead.
Grafton’s defense forced a turnover on downs on the Warriors’ ensuing drive and had an interception to close out Foxboro’s last chance to secure a 21-12 win to advance to the Division 4 state championship game.
“That just took all of the wind out of our sails and any of the momentum we had built up to at that point,” said Foxboro head coach Jack Martinelli. “Sam kicked the ball perfectly, they were way up and we just didn’t make the play.
“You gotta make plays. Some days you make them, and some days you don’t.”
Foxboro fought back after going down a pair of touchdowns early. The Gators scored on their opening drive when quarterback Casey Jordan linked up with Donagher for an 11-yard touchdown midway through the first quarter. The touchdown came two plays after a 34-yard connection between the two.
The Warriors’ second drive of the game came to a halt on an interception from Ryanne Chibani, who returned it into Foxboro territory. Three plays later, Jordan dropped a 26-yard touchdown pass just over the defensive back into Donagher’s arms right inside the pylon to make it 14-0 with 10 minutes left in the second quarter.
Foxboro’s defense didn’t surrender another score the rest of the game, and the Warriors went to work clawing their way back into it.
A booming punt from Carpenter pinned Grafton at their 2-yard line, and the defense forced a three-and-out. An 11-yard pass from Marcucella to Lincoln Moore jump-started the drive. Grafton thought they had an interception but a roughing the passer call kept the drive alive, but not much longer as Carpenter booted a 39-yard field goal to get Foxboro on the board with 39 seconds left in the half.
Foxboro’s defense came up with a big play on the opening drive of the second half. Grafton marched to the Warriors’ 21-yard line but a throw to the end zone was read perfectly by Kaden Hassett and he came down with the interception for the touchback.
The Warriors capitalized on the momentum as Marcucella hit Gordon for an 18-yard completion to move the sticks on third down. Marcucella sandwiched a pair of passes to Tony Sulham around a 15-yard scamper from Ben Angelini, and the Warriors were quickly in the red zone.
Marcucella got inside the five on an 8-yard keeper but the drive stalled there and Carpenter came out to drill a 24-yard field goal to make it a one-score game, 14-6, with 2:10 left in the third quarter.
Foxboro’s defense bent on the ensuing Grafton drive but didn’t break. Jordan scrambled for 26 yards on a key third down play but later in the drive, the Warriors stuffed a 4th and short sneak attempt to get the ball back.
“I thought we took the run away from them but give them credit, they took what they could do better than what I’ve seen them do, and that’s throw the football,” Martinelli said. “They’ve relied on the run for most of the season and we were able to keep that in check but we weren’t able to stop the deep quick scores in the first half. [Grafton] is a good team but I’m proud of my kids too. Nobody ever expected us to be here but when you get here, you wish you could win it.
“We thought we could do a pretty good job against the run but  hit  a couple of times and those were the early scores. We never really rebounded all the way back, close, but not all of the way.”
After some short yardage carries and completions, Marcucella hit Gordon down the left sideline, just out of the reach of the defensive back, and Gordon raced his way to a 67-yard touchdown. Foxboro’s two-point attempt came up a yard short of the goal line.
Although Foxboro came up short in its quest to reach Gillette Stadium, it was a terrific run from a squad that reached the state semifinals last year but graduated a lot of talent, including one of the best running backs in program history. Martinelli credited his senior class for helping this team – which lost the first three games of the season – for making this run.
“They are the glue that kept everything together,” Martinelli said. “We don’t have a whole lot of them but the ones we had kept the young kids going, kept themselves going. At 0-3, they never hung their heads and they just kept working.”
Foxboro football (6-5) will host rival Mansfield on Thanksgiving Day with the Davenport division title on the line.
Sophomore quarterback Mike Marcucella hit freshman Rashaan Lewis for the go-ahead touchdown with just 1:35 left in the fourth quarter and the Warriors’ defense denied visiting Pembroke on the final drive of the game to secure a thrilling 24-21 win.
The Warriors marched into Pembroke territory with under three minutes to go but a red zone interception put a sudden halt to the drive, and the Titans took over with 2:45 to go and a 21-17 lead.
Foxboro’s defense, which forced a pair of turnovers on the previous two Titan drives, held Pembroke in check. Lincoln Moore had a tackle for a loss on first down, and on 3rd and 3 from the 23-yard line, junior Shane Henri made a diving play to trip up the runner and senior Da’Myi Cameron finished the tack for a 2-yard loss.
The Warriors used all three timeouts to stop the clock, and a short Pembroke punt gave Foxboro 1st and 10 at the Titans’ 44-yard line.
Marcucella (18/26, 215 yards, 3 TD) hit sophomore Ben Angelini out of the backfield for 13 yards and a first down. Then consecutive passes to the right sideline to Eddie Feldman (eight yards) and Tony Sulham (seven yards) moved the sticks. On the next play, with five wide receivers, Marcucella went over the middle to Lewis on a quick hitch and the freshman slipped a tackle and found enough space between three defenders to dive across the goal line for the go-ahead score.
“The defense played terrific,” said Foxboro head coach Jack Martinelli. “We gave them a couple, they broke one big one on us. I couldn’t ask for any more out of these kids. They are so young but I have a solid group of seniors that live and die for this. This senior group was 0-10 as freshmen and now they are leading a team to the second round of the playoffs and for a shot at the Davenport at Thanksgiving.”
The Warriors’ defense got off to a great start in the second half, a tackle for loss by Marc Francois forced Pembroke into a three-and-out. But a Foxboro fumble — one of five turnovers from the Warriors — gifted the ball back to the Titans.
Pembroke cashed in three plays later when Jack Tosone found a sliver of space up the middle and turned on the jets, racing away for a 79-yard touchdown and a 21-17 lead with 6:02 left in the third quarter.
Things nearly went from bad to worse for Foxboro as the Warriors coughed up the ensuing kickoff and the Titans took over just outside the red zone at the 25-yard line.
Foxboro’s defense delivered again as junior Brandon Mazenkes-O’Grady, who was a constant presence in the Pembroke pocket, pressured the quarterback into a throw that was intercepted by sophomore Nolan Gordon at the 9-yard line.
The Warriors’ offense went on a lengthy drive, extended twice by fourth down penalties from the Titans. First came too many men on the field and then came roughing the kicker. Foxboro couldn’t make the Titans pay though and had to punt from midfield.
The Titans looked content to milk the clock with the lead, running the play clock down with over seven minutes to play. On second and eight, Mazenkes-O’Grady once again applied some pressure and Henri made an acrobatic play to come down with the interception.
While it was a grand finish for the Foxboro offense, it was a bit of a rocky start. Just three plays in, Pembroke’s Steve Johnson picked off a pass. But the Titans couldn’t capitalize as Mazenkes-O’Grady had a third down sack to get the ball back.
Foxboro’s second drive didn’t go much better as a fumble on the second play gave possession back to the visitors at the 10-yard line. On third and goal, Jake Falco hit Will McNamara right at the goal line and it was ruled the ball crossed the goal line for an 8-yard touchdown and a 7-0 lead with 5:31 left in the first quarter.
Behind a 13-play, 55-yard drive — much of which the Warriors had to cover twice due to penalties — Foxboro got on the board. Marcucella hit Gordon (five catches, 72 yards) for 26 yards and then got the Titans to jump offside for a first down. But the drive stalled inside the 10-yard line and Sam Carpenter drilled a 23-yard field goal to make it 7-3.
The Warriors’ defense eventually forced a punt and Foxboro made it back-to-back scoring drives. Behind a couple of first down runs from Angelini (23 carries, 96 yards), Foxboro moved the ball down field. On second and 15, Sulham (five catches, 65 yards) was wide open and Marcucella hit him in stride for a 45-yard touchdown and a 10-7 advantage.
Pembroke found success in the air on its next drive, as Falco linked up with Johnson over the middle for 32 yards, and on the next play, after a great double move from Johnson, the pair hooked up for a 59-yard touchdown and a 14-10 lead.
Foxboro went back ahead just before halftime. A five-play, 60-yard drive was capped off by a 30-yard touchdown pass from Marcucella to Gordon as the Warriors staked a 17-14 lead at halftime.
Foxboro football (5-4) advances to the Division 4 State Quarterfinals and will travel to #3 Bedford (8-1) on a date and time to be announced.
Ten matches later, Foxboro was on the winning side six times and pushed the Davenport division champions Oliver Ames and perennial powerhouse Canton to five sets in defeat.
And now, the 14th-seeded Warriors walked off their home court with a 3-0 sweep (25-16, 25-22, 25-17) over #19 Greater Lowell Tech.
“I think the turning point [of the season] was the first Oliver Ames game when we took them to five [sets] and I think the girls were shocked at their performance and really started to believe in themselves,” said Foxboro head coach Vicki Santana. “They started having fun with it and we carried that energy into the next games. That’s when we started winning, starting taking teams to five that we never had before. This was really exciting for us.”
Foxboro avenged losses to Mansfield, Sharon, and Stoughton in October. The Warriors also were undefeated against non-league opponents, picking up a pair of wins over Walpole and Braintree. On top of their five-set thriller at OA, the Warriors went on the road and pushed Canton to the brink as well.
“I think their confidence level, they believe they can do anything now,” Santana said. “They are having more fun, they are shaking things off. They have been willing to run some plays, if they make a mistake they are shaking it off easier than before, not getting down on each other or themselves. The whole morale of the team has been brought up.”
After earning a 2-0 lead in the match, Foxboro found itself in an early hole in the third set, falling behind 7-1. While this might have deterred the Warriors at the start of the season, they dug themselves out of the hole with a 9-2 burst.
Mallorie Meyer landed a kill and then Alyssa Cloherty (16 assists, seven digs) took over, finding a hole in the defense with a one-handed dump on the second ball, then finding Juliana Pettigrew for back-to-back kills — the former off a great pass from Shannon McElhiney, and then landed back-to-back aces to tie it at 9-9.
Foxboro fell behind 11-10 but didn’t make many mistakes down the stretch. Good defense put pressure on the visiting Gryphons and a handful of hitting errors plus a solid defensive play by Gianna Dunne gave Foxboro a 16-11 lead.
A nice top from Pettiegew and a good serve from Cloherty pushed Foxboro’s lead to 23-14. Meyer added consecutive kills, the latter from the back row, and a service error from the visitors clinched the win.
“They realized they need to play as hard as they can, it’s not a time to let up after taking the first two sets,” Santana said of digging out of the early deficit. “They fought back and kept that fight going until the end. The passing got better, the hits were stronger. [Greater Lowell Tech’s] competition level was up too, they started blocking us more in the middle and we had to adjust. We really started to have to look for the holes in their defense.”
It was a balanced attack for the hosts throughout the first two sets. Foxboro gained some separation early on in the opening set, a pair of aces from Sami Sloan (seven kills), a kill from Pettigrew, and blocks from Meyers and Ava Kirk presented the Warriors with a 15-7 lead. An ace and another Sloan kill pushed it to 17-9 and the Warriors didn’t look back.
Ava Hill had a strong swing from the right side and Dunne landed an ace to give Foxboro a 25-16 win for a 1-0 advantage.
Sloan carried the momentum into the second set with some early aces from Sydney Lebow and a kill from Sloan as Foxboro built a five-point lead, but Greater Lowell Tech continued to crawl back and tied it 10-10. An ace from Pettigrew kept Foxboro in front, and two great serves in a row from Cloherty gave the Warriors some breathing room. The Gryphons once again closed the gap to make it 20-20 but a big swing from Hill led to a block from Kirk, and Meyer added two aces to give Foxboro a 25-22 win and a 2-0 lead.
“They do a great job moving the ball around,” Santana said. “I’m lucky because I have one of the best setters in the Hock [Alyssa Cloherty], the ball comes out of her hands so perfectly. She has confidence in all of her hitters so she does move it around. And she runs different things with each of them, slides and quick sets to the middle, all of these different things they’ve gotten the confidence to do, they are really working together so well.”
Foxboro volleyball (8-13) awaits the winner of #3 Newburyport (17-3) and #30 Bishop Fenwick (8-13), who play on Friday evening.