Rocketeers Score Thanksgiving Day Win at Attleboro

North Attleboro football
Bobby Mylod (31) and Nick Rajotte (34) were awarded Balfour Trophies as the game’s MVPs after beating Attleboro on Thanksgiving Day. (Josh Perry/HockomockSports.com)

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ATTLEBORO, Mass. – There are few teams in the Hockomock League that can call on as many offensive weapons as North Attleboro and when everything clicks into gear then it can feel like the Rocketeers are capable of moving the ball up and down the field at will.

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Everything clicked on Thanksgiving morning at Tozier-Cassidy Field in the 96th annual holiday meeting (and 100th overall) with rival Attleboro.

North Attleboro (9-2) scored on each of its first six possessions, spreading the ball around and proving unstoppable for the Attleboro (4-7) defense. Behind three touchdowns from Offensive MVP Bobby Mylod and two scores from Defensive MVP Nick Rajotte, the Rocketeers rolled to a 41-13 victory and won back “Hilda.”

“Last year was disappointing,” said Mylod of North’s loss to the Bombardiers at Community Field. “We disappointed our seniors. We came out here and we didn’t want that to happen to us. It all paid off.”

North Attleboro coach Don Johnson said, “We’re multi-dimensional. Chad [Peterson] can throw the ball as well as anybody. Nick and Bobby complement each other so well and they’re effective in the passing game too.

“I wouldn’t want to defend us, I know that.”

Attleboro moved the ball on its opening possession but was forced to punt, pinning North back at its own seven-yard-line. The Rocketeers put together a methodical, 15-play, 93-yard drive to open the score and set the tone for the game.

The Bombardiers had a chance to get the Rocketeers off the field, but Kyle McCarthy hit Mylod (six receptions, 119 yards) for 14 yards on a fake punt to keep the drive going. Rajotte (17 carries, 73 yards) led the way with eight carries on the drive, including a 23-yard burst up the middle to get the ball inside the 10 and then the two-yard dive to give North the 6-0 lead.

After another Attleboro punt, forced by a big play by Jay Loring on a screen pass from Tyler McGovern to Cam Furtado for a nine-yard loss, North took over and went right back to work. On third and nine from the North 27, Peterson (11-15, 159 yards) kept the drive alive with a 19-yard completion to Mylod, who would eventually finish it off on an eight-yard sweep. Peterson hit McCarthy for two and a 14-0 lead.

“I thought the offense did a good job controlling the game,” said Johnson, “and that’s what we needed to do, keep them off the field a little bit and just move the ball.”

North were gifted great field position when Attleboro had back-to-back snaps skid across the ground, one recovered by Nathan Barboza on third down and the other a 12-yard loss recovered by McGovern on the punt attempt. Peterson hit McCarthy to for 13 yards and two plays later he hit Mylod for another 13 and the touchdown.

“They’re a great football team,” said Attleboro coach Mike Strachan. “They’ve got athletes everywhere. There is a reason why they’re Hock champs this year. When you get them, you need to take opportunities. You can’t take offsides on third and short and you can’t give up a fourth down conversion.”

Attleboro gave itself hope of a comeback right before the break. Elvin Sam broke a 10-yard run and then McGovern hit Furtado for 24 yards down to the North 26. Another completion to Furtado (seven receptions, 66 yards) got the ball inside the North five-yard-line and Furtado punched it in with no time remaining in the half for a 21-6 deficit.

“We reminded them of two years ago,” said Johnson of the conversation in the North locker room, “because we went up by three scores, they got one right at the end of half and that went into overtime. As far as we were concerned at halftime, it was 0-0 and we were starting over again.”

Rajotte nearly stole the momentum right back when he took the opening kick of the third quarter 70 yards for a score, only to have a holding call bring the touchdown back. It did not slow down North though, as the Rocketeers would still extend the lead. Peterson had three straight completions, one each to Hacmoni Cuevas, McCarthy, and Mylod and then Mylod closed out the drive with two carries for 25 yards and a 27-6 lead.

Strachan said, “You go into halftime and you know you’ve got to stop the run and if your coverages aren’t exactly right then you’ll take advantage of it. They were the better team today.”

Attleboro would answer back with a little help from the Rocketeers. Sam pounced on a muffed punt to give the Bombardiers the ball back at the North 22. After a couple of completions from McGovern (9-22, 75 yards), Furtado would push it across on a sweep right to cut the lead to 27-13.

Rajotte returned the ensuing kick 20 yards and McCarthy (eight carries, 86 yards) broke a 38-yard run to set North up again. Rajotte would get his second touchdown from one-yard out to make it 34-13. On North’s next possession, Peterson threw a perfect swing pass to Mylod on the far sideline for 40 yards and then McCarthy got his first score from two-yards out.

“There is very little margin for error,” said Strachan, “and they’re so good at distributing the ball around. They’re not one-dimensional, so if you start taking away the jet, they hit you with the power. If you take away the power, they hit you in the seam.”

For Mylod and the other North seniors, last season’s loss motivated them to ensure they went out on top. He said, “It’s a great ending to my high school career. We had the best team, I felt, and lost to two Super Bowl contending teams. No shame in that. We came out, played our tails off and won.”

Although this was a big victory for the Rocketeers, the series has tightened up in recent years with the teams splitting the last four Thanksgiving Day meetings. While he wants to win every season, Johnson admits that it is better for the rivalry to have it be more balanced.

He said, “I think it just makes it all the more meaningful. Mike and those guys over there, we all know those coaches well, they’re a great staff. They’ve done a great job every year, so we know we’re in a ball game every year on Thanksgiving and I think that’s what makes it special.”

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Rocketeers Rally But Can’t Catch Top Seed Duxbury

North Attleboro Football
Nick Rajotte (34) and the Rocketeers rallied with two touchdowns in the final eight minutes of the Div. 2 South title game but it was not enough to catch top seed Duxbury. (Josh Perry/HockomockSports.com)

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DUXBURY, Mass. – With 8:34 remaining in the Friday night’s Div. 2 South final, Duxbury senior wideout Ryan Reagan made one of the plays that demonstrated why he will be playing at Harvard next fall. Mario Bresko had perfect position right in front of the 6-foot-4 receiver and seemed to have both hands on the pass until Reagan leapt and stretched out to pull the ball away from the corner and come down inbounds.

“We did good on defense, held them there and then you get the back shoulder fade to the big kid who’s going to Harvard and we had him covered pretty well,” said North Attleboro coach Don Johnson. “It’s just one kid making a better play.”

The touchdown put the Dragons, who some outlets have ranked as the top team in the state this season, ahead by three scores, but North refused to lay down for the final minutes. Instead, the Rocketeers sped up the offense and rallied with touchdowns on back-to-back possessions to close the gap.

The comeback eventually fell short, as Duxbury converted a third down that allowed the Dragons to kneel down to finish off a 26-19 victory at Raymond Chandler Field and keep their unbeaten season alive.

“It’s a great group of kids,” said Johnson of his team, which had its eight-game win streak snapped by Duxbury. “There’s a whole lot of character there. Certainly not disappointed with the effort by anyone.”

The North came out firing right from the start of the game, trying to put pressure on Duxbury’s senior quarterback Bobby Maimaron. Thomas Reynolds dropped Maimaron for a seven-yard sack on the second play setting up third and long, but the Achille’s heel all game would be the Rocketeers’ struggle to get the defense off the field.

On third and 16, Maimaron (16 carries, 85 yards) took a draw 46 yards down to the North 26. After the Dragons got the ball to the one, Maimaron capped the opening drive with a one-yard keeper to make it 6-0 (the extra point was blocked).

North did make a play on third down on Duxbury’s next possession with Nick Dean breaking up a pass to force fourth and 10 at the Rocketeers 49, but the Dragons faked the punt and Maimaron (17-34, 217 yards) hit Nick Gearin for 26 yards.

“Looking at all the films and they do that all the time,” Johnson explained. “Teams hold them on first and second down and all of sudden they’ve got some kid making a play somewhere. I think it all starts with the quarterback; he’s the key to the whole thing.”

Another third down conversion put the Dragons inside the 10, but North made a defensive stand. Nick Rajotte broke up a pass and Jay Loring pressured Maimaron into an errant pass on fourth down. The Rocketeers would not be able to do the same on Duxbury’s next possession.

Bobby Mylod and Hacmoni Cuevas combined on a 14-yard sack to set up third and 24, but Maimaron connected with Reagan (seven catches, 88 yards) for a 27-yard gain. The drive ended with Maimaron hitting James Miele for a three-yard score and in the process making history with his 113th career touchdown pass breaking the statewide record set by Natick’s Troy Flutie.

The Rocketeers’ offense was stalling, particularly on the ground where Rajotte (eight carries, 23 yards) was struggling to get room. “The run has been our bread and butter and that’s been setting up the pass really.” said Johnson. “It’s been the run controlling the clock and keeping the defense off the field and that’s what we weren’t able to do today.”

Duxbury tried to put the game away before halftime, electing to go for it on fourth and six from the North 48 with fewer than 20 seconds remaining. The move backfired as Cuevas stepped up with an interception and returned it to the Dragons’ 30 with eight seconds on the clock. North quarterback Chad Peterson (19-34, 269 yards) fired a perfect strike to Kyle McCarthy (five catches, 107 yards) to get North on the board at the break.

The Rocketeers had momentum going into halftime and the ball coming out of it with a chance to try and take the lead. After moving down to the Duxbury 29, Peterson was sacked by Brad Backlund for a 13-yard loss and then intercepted by Joe Gooley.

“That was big,” Johnson admitted. “I really thought that if we were really going to make a run for it then we had to get something out of that drive and we just didn’t.”

The Dragons capitalized on the turnover with a 10-play drive that pushed the lead to 12 points. Maimaron hit Reagan on a back shoulder throw in the front corner of the end zone for a three-yard score to make it 19-7.

The teams traded punts but then Peterson was picked off for the second time, this one by Maimaron, to set Duxbury up with a short field. Maimaron converted another fourth down with a three-yard keeper and then Reagan made his highlight-reel grab and it looked like the game was over.

North came right back on its next drive to go 72 yards in seven plays and used up only three minutes off the clock. Peterson hit David Engler on the far sideline, putting just enough on it to beat the safety, and Engler ran in for a 36-yard score.

Duxbury recovered the onside kick but decided to stick with its passing game rather than try to run clock with only five minutes remaining. Reynolds’ pressure forced one incompletion and Dean broke up another pass as North forced a three and out to get the ball right back. This time it was 80 yards in nine plays capped by Peterson finding Bresko for a 25-yard score, Peterson’s third of the night, to cut the lead to 26-19.

“He’s been tough all year,” said Johnson of Peterson. “He’s been in a difficult situation sometimes. We ask a lot of him. A lot was on his shoulders tonight and he stood tall like he usually does.”

The top seed was able to convert another third down to seal the win and lift the Div. 2 South trophy; Duxbury’s second sectional title in as many years.

Rocketeers Pull Away In Second Half for Big Win

North Attleboro football
North Attleboro’s Bobby Mylod (31) runs the ball in the second half against Milford. (Ryan Lanigan/HockomockSports.com)
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NORTH ATTLEBORO, Mass. – The game was moved from Friday night to Sunday evening because of inclement weather and the atmosphere was not nearly as charged as it usually is at Community Field. The Rocketeers started sluggishly, falling behind against visiting Milford but turned it on in the second half to break open a close game and stay unbeaten in the division.

Behind 139 yards of offense from Bobby Mylod and 134 from Nick Rajotte, North Attleboro scored 35 straight points (21 unanswered after the break) and allowed only one first down in the second half to roll to a 35-7 victory.

“Especially with our field situation,” North Attleboro coach Don Johnson said of the difficulty of preparing for a Sunday game. “We get two extra days where we can practice, but we had to go in the gym because we couldn’t get a good field where we can practice. I think that explains some of the lethargic play that we saw in the first half.”

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Milford got a first down on its opening possession behind senior Blake Hill (19 carries, 83 yards), but a pair of incompletions under pressure from the North defense forced a Sean Lehane punt. Rajotte had it ricochet off his shoulder pads and Tony Mobiliarecovered for the Hawks at the Rocketeers 26.

Matt Curran (2-9, 24 yards) hit Jack Cappalletti for 10 yards down to the 15 and Hill followed with a 14-yard burst through the middle to get a first down at the one. Two quarterback sneaks later, Curran squeezed over the goal line to give Milford the 7-0 lead.

North bounced back on its next possession with Rajotte accounting for 43 yards on the ground and through the air to get in Milford territory. With North facing fourth and 13, Chad Peterson (10-12, 125 yards) looked down field to Mylod for a 30-yard strike to tie the game.

On its next possession, Milford had a chance to look down field, but Kayden Kelly could not haul in a pass on the sideline with Kyle McCarthy in tight coverage and the Hawks would give the ball back to the Rocketeers. Peterson hit David Engler twice and Mylod had a 26-yard gain on a sweep to get down to the Hawks 29. After Hill stuffed Rajotte for a loss, Peterson again laid out a pass for Mylod to run under and the 32-yard touchdown made it 14-7 at the break.

“We had a couple opportunities early in the game to keep it neck-and-neck,” said Milford coach Joe Todd. “Our defense played well at times, but we gave up too many big plays in critical situations.”

North received the ball to start the second half and set up about taking control of the game. The Rocketeers engineered a 10-play, 76-yard drive to go up by two scores. Rajotte had the first 35 yards of the drive and McCarthy broke a 20-yard run down to the 13. Mylod went straight up the gut to the one, where the ball popped loose. Engler followed the play and dove on it for the touchdown.

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“I think that was important,” said Johnson of the second half drive, “and good teams should be able to do that, come out and move the ball on the first drive and establish it. We haven’t done that all the time this year, so it was good for us to do that for once.”

Milford’s next possession ended on a sack by Jack Dakin. The Hawks would not get another first down for the remainder of the game, as the North defense locked down the running game. The Rocketeers held Hill to only 17 yards on eight carries after the break by dominating the line of scrimmage, particularly Thomas Reynolds, Thomas Kummer, and Jay Loring, who battled Milford’s big lineman Riley Burns all night.

“I think we wore them down a little bit,” said Johnson. “Nice to see us doing that to someone for once, instead of King Philip doing it to us.”

With the gap widening, the Hawks were also forced to go away from their strengths needing to score quickly. Todd explained, “Once we came out of halftime and they scored on that first drive, we really needed to score after that and we didn’t. Offensively, it’s tough for us to score fast, it’s not our style, so I think that was a big advantage for them.”

Midway through the fourth quarter, North took over at its own 27. Rajotte needed only one play to add another score, breaking tackles at the line of scrimmage and then winning a foot race against several Hawks for the 73-yard score. After Loring sniffed out a fake punt on Milford’s next possession, Jonathan Shultz tacked on a 31-yard TD.

“It was nice to see Rajotte break that long one in the second half,” Johnson said. “We haven’t had that opportunity yet where we had everyone in their in the second half. We’re going to need it.”

Todd concluded, “Our strength is obviously running the football and I think they were able to find our tendencies and offensively I thought they did a great job of attacking some things that we were trying to take away.”

North Attleboro (3-1, 2-0) will travel to Sharon next Saturday afternoon, while Milford (2-2, 1-1) will try to get back on track against Foxboro at Ahern Middle School on Friday night.

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