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.
FOXBORO, Mass. – Coming off its first loss of the season (to league-leading Stoughton), Foxboro was looking for a reaction when it hosted Canton on Friday night at Sam Berns Community Field. Thanks to a dominant defense and big plays on special teams, the Warriors answered the challenge and got right back on track.
Foxboro picked off a pair of passes, allowed only three first downs in the first half, scored on a punt return, and kicked three field goals, beating Canton 37-0 to stay within one game of the Black Knights (and North Attleboro, which plays on Saturday) in the Davenport division.
“I can’t say enough about the kids tonight,” said Foxboro coach Jack Martinelli. “They did a great job in a game they had to win. I always told them that I don’t judge them after a loss or a win, it’s when you get knocked down can you come back like they did tonight. That’s the true test of character.”
It was always going to be a tough road trip for the Bulldogs, but the task got considerably tougher when leading rusher Cam Sanchez was injured on the opening possession and didn’t return.
“Cam can go at any time and we didn’t have ability to have that weapon for us this week. We’ll find out if he’s healthy or not,” said Canton coach Anthony Fallon. Martinelli added, “Would’ve been a different kind of game. [Sanchez is] a home run hitter.”
Canton’s defense was looking tough to beat in the first quarter too, Jack Albert had a pair of sacks on Foxboro’s second possession, but the Warriors took advantage of a turnover to grab the lead. Dylan Gordon intercepted a Robert Botelho pass and returned it down to the Canton 13. Two plays later, Gordon took a counter 10 yards into the end zone. The conversion was no good after a bad snap, but the Warriors were up 6-0.
The Bulldogs went three-and-out on their next possession. Luis Sulham stepped up to receive the punt at his own 46 and weaved his way through the Canton cover team, reversing field twice on his way to the end zone. Gordon was able to punch in the conversion and Foxboro led 14-0 after one.
After another three-and-out, the Foxboro offense finally clicked into gear a little but Sulham was ruled to have lost the ball just before he was able to stretch it across the line for another score. He would step up on Canton’s next punt, again coming up with a big return to give Foxboro the ball at the Bulldogs 11.
“You either have it or you don’t,” Martinelli said about the speed he has on the roster. “You can coach quickness but you can’t coach speed and we have some speed.”
Although Foxboro went nowhere, sophomore Sam Carpenter came in and drilled a 27-yard field goal to make it 17-0. A Trent Rennie sack ended Canton’s next possession and then Rashaad Way returned the punt 50 yards to get it back down to the 24. Again, the Warriors went nowhere, but Carpenter split the uprights from 40 yards.
“I have all the confidence in that kid,” said Martinelli. “Thank god for the double season,” he added, referencing Carpenter’s ability to play soccer and football this year. “He wanted to give it a try and we watched two kicks and just kind of said you’re in. I was looking at the list and said, who’s Sam Carpenter? Well, now I know who he is.”
Carpenter was a difference maker for the Warriors. Foxboro started the second half with the ball and, after a 38-yard pass from Cam Prescott (6-of-15, 98 yards) to Way moved the Warriors into the red zone. Instead of leaving without points, Carpenter stepped up again and nailed one from 31 yards.
The Bulldogs were seeking answers on the offensive end. Colin Albert took over from Sanchez as the primary running back and finished with 100 yards on 17 carries, continuing to fight for extra yards even as the Warriors started to pull away.
“Colin did a great job filling in, running the inside zone,” said Fallon. “Colin’s a tough kid going both ways and grinding it out like that, especially against a good team like that who’s going to hit you on every play.”
Trying to make something happen, Canton called for a halfback pass but Tom Sharkey stepped in the way of Andrew Butler’s throw. On the first play of the drive, Prescott hit Sharkey for 30 yards down to the Canton four. On the next play, Mike Norvish burst up the middle for the touchdown.
In the fourth quarter, Foxboro added one more score. Tom Marcucella took over at quarterback and broke a 23-yard run on third down. He had his pass to the end zone picked off by Vincent O’Brien, but a roughing the passer call negated the turnover and moved Foxboro to the 10. Four carries later Steven Petrillo was able to find a little seam on the right side of the line for a one-yard score.
“It killed us,” Fallon said about the struggles on special teams. “Our coverage was lacking tonight for sure and we’ll have to see if we can sharpen that up. Short turnaround, so we’ll put a game plan together and turn around and play on Thursday.”
STOUGHTON, Mass. – At one point in the fourth set it looked like Foxboro was going to cruise to its first win of the season, but Stoughton turned things around, winning eight straight points. The pressure was on the Warriors to avoid having to go to a fifth set and head coach Vicki Santana called a timeout to settle down her team.
“Telling them to get pumped up and stay loud,” Santana said. “It’s hard without the fans this year, especially having just the fans for another team is even harder. Our bench has been great, they’ve been screaming their heads off and that’s really helping.”
The pep talk and instruction worked, as Foxboro regained its composure and was able to hold off Stoughton’s charge to seal a 3-1 (25-20, 20-25, 25-12, 25-21) road victory.
Despite the defeat, first-year coach Felecia Baptista was proud of her team’s fight in the fourth set, battling back from 21-7 down to get as close as three points.
“I feel like we were communicating really well,” she explained. “We just have to stay upbeat. They like to be the underdogs a little too much and we need to start showing what we can do right from the beginning.”
In the first set, it was Foxboro that had to battle back. Stoughton started well and, after kills by Camille Firmin and Shanice Landrum and an ace from Rhuan Oliveira, the Black Knights held a 13-10 lead. The Warriors won seven of the next eight points, including kills by Emma Keefe and Mallorie Meyer, to grab the lead.
Stoughton answered with a block by freshman Annilia Eschleman to get within one, 18-17, but then Keefe had a big swing and back-to-back aces to put Foxboro up by four. A kill for Jessie Queeney and an ace by Patrik Oliveira kept Stoughton close, but Meghan Murphy found a seam in the Black Knights defense and Shannon McDonald capped the set with a kill and a block.
The second set was back-and-forth with neither team able to build more than a three-point advantage. After a net violation put Foxboro up 20-17, Stoughton was finally able to make a run. Rhuan Oliveira served out the set, winning eight straight points, including four aces and kills from Queeney and Eschleman.
“We’re so good, we just have to show it more on the court,” said Baptista. “They like to be challenged and they get a little too quiet when things aren’t going their way. We’ve just got to stay strong. When we were out of rotation a couple of times, I just immediately called timeout because they can get in their heads so bad when that happens.”
Momentum didn’t carry over into the third for the hosts. Foxboro snagged control of the set early on, taking advantage of a couple rotation errors by the Black Knights. Setter Sarah Regan dropped a shot in between a pair of Black Knights and then fired an ace, as Foxboro built an 11-3 lead.
Stoughton managed to fight back and cut the lead to five but that was as close as it would get in the third. Murphy was stellar on the outside for the Warriors with five kills in the set and McDonald restored Foxboro’s lead in the match with a kill to seal it.
Foxboro has had some battles this season, including a hard-fought four-set match with unbeaten Oliver Ames last week and a five-set match with Sharon in the opening week. At the start of the fourth set, it looked like the Warriors were trying to avoid any drama and put the first win on the board.
Foxboro’s team defense was superb at times. Regan, Pam Nelson, Grace Fortune, and libero Kelsey Treweek consistently kept plays alive, giving the front line more chances to swing and also putting a lot of pressure on Stoughton.
“They don’t give up,” Santana said about her defense. “They’re always ready and they always make that last-minute save you don’t think anyone’s going to get. They run into the bleachers, they run into the net, wherever they can and that’s definitely what keeps us in games. They’re a really strong group.”
Keefe was also having a solid night at the service line. She rattled off seven straight points, including three straight on aces, and the Warriors led 17-6. A McDonald block and rotation error had Stoughton behind 21-7 and seemingly ready to look ahead to Wednesday’s rematch.
Instead, the Black Knights turned the set around. It started with a kill by Iago Bonfirm off the top of the net. Rhuan Oliveira followed with back-to-back aces and Landrum rose up for a big kill. After four straight aces by Oliveira, Santana was forced into a timeout with the lead down to 21-15.
Santana explained, “With some of the stronger servers that they have, the topspin serve is coming with a lot of power and you can’t be moving when that’s happening and you can’t be swinging your arms. I just told them to get their arms under it and it will go up to the target.”
Foxboro recovered and got back to its strong serve-receive game. The teams traded points and, after another rally, Meyer clinched the win with quick thinking at the net and an accurate hit.
“It feels really good,” said Santana. “It’s tough coming off last year where we had one of the first winning seasons in a while and then to start this season down and we know we don’t have that many games, so finally getting it together today and hopefully we can carry that into Wednesday.”
Whether it’s with a lead, in a tie game, or trying to come from behind, the Black Knights always look to empty the tank in the final 12 minutes of action.
Locked in a defensive battle with division rival Foxboro, knotted at 7-7 since the opening quarter of the game, Stoughton delivered in the fourth quarter. The Black Knights scored a pair of touchdowns inside the final five minutes of the game, sandwiched around a game-clinching takeaway to earn a 21-7 win over the visiting Warriors.
After the opening drive of the game in which the Black Knights broke free for a 44-yard touchdown, Foxboro’s defense stymied Stoughton’s offense. The Warriors recovered fumbles on back-to-back possessions in the first half, forced Stoughton to punt to start the second half, and had a huge stop in the red zone forcing a turnover on downs in the third quarter.
But when Stoughton’s offense took the field for the first time in the fourth quarter, starting at their own 20-yard line with 11 minutes to play, the Black Knights finally found a rhythm.
Helped along by a pass interference call three plays in on a third down, Stoughton’s ground game got going. Christopher Ais (20 carries, 138 yards) took four straight carries, moving the chains twice, and took the Knights into Foxboro territory. Then it was Christian Ais’ (10 carries, 50 yards) turn, cutting back up the middle for a 21-yard dash to get down to the 10-yard line.
Three plays later, Christian Ais bowled his way over a trio of Foxboro defenders at the goal line, getting an extra push from junior lineman Edward Conrad, for a 2-yard touchdown. Jonah Ly (3-for-3 on extra points) split the upright to put Stoughton up 14-7 with 4:33 to go.
Ais’ score capped a 10-play, 80-yard drive that took off 6:27 of the clock.
“We fumbled all over the place, you don’t do that, you can’t give up the ball,” said Stoughton head coach Greg Burke. “They are tough, we knew they’d be good but at least we finished up the way we want to play and we played good defense throughout. But hey, if we give up only one touchdown every week I’ll take it. We have a couple of issues that we still need to iron out but we’ll get there.”
Foxboro started the ensuing drive at its own 15-yard line but Cam Prescott’s deep pass got caught up in the wind and Stoughton senior Andrew Medina was able to adjust and come down with the interception to get the hosts the ball back right away.
Stoughton went right back to its ground game, and aided by a Foxboro unsportsmanlike penalty, moved into the red zone. Christopher Ais broke free for a 15-yard run to get inside the 10-yard line and two plays later, senior quarterback John Burke took the QB option around the corner on the left sideline for a 9-yard touchdown and a 21-7 lead with 1:31 to play.
“The fourth quarter comes down to weight training,” Burke said. “We’ve got a brand new weight room here that the kids haven’t been able to use. They put in the time, they found ways in the offseason to lift. We aren’t the biggest team but pound-for-pound I’ll match us against anyone. I felt like if we could hang close for three quarters, we could win in the fourth. We didn’t help ourselves with the fumbles, they had one or two good hits but those fumbles are our fault. We’ll get back to the drawing board but we’re 2-0 and we’ll take any league win we can.”
While Foxboro’s defense slowed Stoughton’s offense throughout the majority of the game, the Black Knights’ defense kept the Warriors’ offense bottled up.
The Warriors’ defense forced a turnover on downs to set up Foxboro’s best drive of the game, a 5-play, 45-yard drive. Starting in Stoughton territory, junior Dylan Gordon had pair of good runs and junior Omarion Otto-Broomstein barreled his way in from 1-yard out. Sam Carpenter’s successful point after attempt tied the game, 7-7, with 1:14 left in the opening quarter.
But beyond that, Stoughton’s defense didn’t allow the Warriors to move the ball much. In fact, Foxboro only ran more than five plays on one drive, punting on five possessions, including four straight between the second and third quarters. The Warriors ran nine plays on their second possession but that came to an end on downs.
“Our defense played great for us,” Burke said. “[Gordon] had a couple of runs, we kept [Chris McNamara] in check, and [Luis Sulham] only caught a couple of passes. They did a good job passing blocking, that’s something we usually get in on but they did a nice job there. But I was very, very happy with the way the defense played and getting the win, it was a tough win. We still have a long way to go.”
Stoughton nearly jumped back in front twice near the end of the second. The Black Knights marched 9 plays to get into the red zone but fumbled on a run to the left and Sulham jumped on the loose ball for the visitors. But Foxboro’s drive was put to a stop on a sack from Davin Swierzewski. Stoughton got the ball back at the Foxboro 31-yard line with 32 seconds left but had four straight incompletions to end the half.
The Black Knights threatened again at the end of the third quarter, set up on a 41-yard pass and catch from Burke to Christian Ais. But Foxboro’s defense tightened up, getting key tackles from Mike Norvish, Dylan Kerrigan, Jon Moses, James Kraus and Trent Rennie. Stoughton tried to run the “Philly Special” on fourth down but Jake Queeney’s pass to Burke was just out of reach in the end zone.
“I thought the kids did a good job but those three backs [the Ais brothers and Christian Georges], you can’t key on one that’s for sure,” said Foxboro head coach Jack Martinelli. “It’s not like stopping one back, and they run what they run offensively very well. Even if you have those kids stopped, they are still going to get positive yardage so give them credit. It was a good game, 21-7 doesn’t look like the game I saw…14-7 yeah. If you don’t tie up those kids before they get going…they are as good as I’ve seen in a while in a league and there are three of them.
“I’m disappointed in how it ended but not disappointed in how the kids played from start to finish. Now we’re onto next week.”
Stoughton (2-0) will host Sharon on Friday night at 5:00 while Foxboro (1-1) has its home opener, hosting Canton at 5:30.