NORTH ATTLEBORO, Mass. – Attleboro scored twice in its first five plays from scrimmage but with less than a minute remaining on the clock North Attleboro (4-7) was driving with a chance to steal the 99th annual Thanksgiving Day meeting between the two neighboring rivals on the soaked grass at Community Field.
Rocketeers backup quarterback Casey Poirier, who took over from sophomore Tyler DeMattio (17 carries, 83 yards) in the fourth quarter, engineered a 15-play drive from his own 20 all the way down to the Attleboro five-yard-line.
Fellow quarterback Jason Weir pushed North back when he grabbed hold of Poirier and swung him down for a nine-yard sack back to the 14 and on third and goal junior linebacker Michael Strachan came through with a game-ending interception in the end zone, sealing a dramatic 13-7 victory for the Bombardiers.
“I think we prepared really hard for this game and I think it just goes to show, this rivalry, what it means,” said Attleboro coach Mike Strachan after his third win in this holiday series. “[North] played great, they’re always prepared, but this is what it’s all about.”
While Attleboro (6-5) made the playoffs as the No. 7 seed in D1 South, neither team had big postseason plans this year, so both had weeks to prepare for Thursday’s game and it took on added importance, as Weir, who won the Balfour Trophy for Offensive MVP, succinctly explained.
“It means so much,” he said. “This is our Super Bowl. It’s phenomenal.”
North was able to move the ball on its opening drives, but couldn’t finish. The Rocketeers got to the Attleboro 39 on its opening possession but a bad snap on fourth and one ended the drive, while the second possession reached the Attleboro 35 but another turnover on downs meant no points.
Attleboro had none of those problems at the start of the game. The Bombardiers went 52 yards in three plays on the their first possession and then 65 yards on two plays on their second to build a solid lead.
On the first play from scrimmage, Weir (7-of-10, 104 yards) hit Ethan Cameron (five catches, 88 yards) in stride for a 43-yard completion to the North five. Two plays later, Strachan burst through the left side for a five-yard score. After completing a 13-yard pass to Cameron to start the second drive, Weir took it himself, breaking tackles at the line of scrimmage and breaking free for a 52-yard touchdown to make it 13-0.
“That was the whole game plan, come out and throw the first punch,” said Weir. “That works against any high school team, they’re going to back down right away and that’s what we did today. Our line stepped up huge today.”
Coach Strachan said of Weir, “I think we finally put him in a situation where he could make some plays for us, make him comfortable, roll him out a little bit more, and that was good.”
The visiting Bombardiers felt like they might break the game wide open and put things away, but the North defense started to stiffen, with Tom O’Neil, Ethan Friberg, and Jacob Silva all making plays that kept Attleboro from gaining more traction offensively.
Also, the North offense finally found a way to complete a drive. The Rocketeers marched 77 yards on 11 plays to cut into the lead. DeMattio led the way, with help from Tommy Whalen and a 27-yard run up the gut by Silva. Attleboro forced fourth an 10 after pressure by Trainor Sherck and a breakup by Adam Pearlstein, but then Demattio scrambled for 12 yards to keep the possession alive.
DeMattio added 16 more on a quarterback draw to get to the Attleboro four and two plays later Jared Penta took a jet sweep over the left side for a three-yard score to make it 13-7 with a minute left before the break.
“We gave up two touchdowns in the first five plays of the game and that’s been the story of our season,” said North coach Don Johnson. “We give up too many easy ones like that and all of a sudden we have to dig out of a hole.
Johnson was asked if he changed anything defensively after Attleboro’s two quick strikes and he answered, “We played a little bit of a different front, but I don’t think that was the difference. I think we just started playing a little bit better.”
The third quarter was largely a stalemate. Weir had a sack to effectively end North’s first possession of the half and Attleboro just missed out on extending the lead when Cameron was ruled to be out of bounds on a catch in the end zone on fourth and 11.
After just missing out on the touchdown, Attleboro had a chance to break the game open two plays later. Justin Daniels tipped a DeMattio pass that was picked off by Pearlstein, setting the visitors up at the North 20. The Bombardiers managed six yards on three plays and a low snap led to a missed 31-yard field goal by Colby Briggs with 9:43 to play.
Attleboro wouldn’t see the ball again for more than nine minutes.
Starting at its own 20, North took over going into the wind and put together a drive that gave it a shot at the win. Defensive MVP Isaac Gudiel stuffed Silva (nine carries, 53 yards) for a two-yard loss to force a third and 10, but then a pass interference call gave the Rocketeers a much-needed first down.
Poirier picked out Ethan Friberg for 10 yards to the 33. After a penalty backed North up five yards, Silva gained 13 on a draw. Gudiel stuffed Silva for a loss to bring up third and 11, but Poirier again had the answer with a 12-yard pass to Whalen for another first down to the nine.
Coming out of a timeout with 1:14 to play, North drew an illegal substitution penalty that backed it up to the 14, but Penta gained nine on first and goal to get the Rocketeers up to the five. Weir came flying through on second down, dropping Poirier for a nine-yard loss and forcing North into its final timeout with 27 seconds on the clock.
On third and goal, Strachan made amends for allowing an earlier completion by jumping the route and picking off a pass two yards deep in the end zone to end the game and bring Hilda back to Attleboro.
“I was on him because he missed the play before,” joked Coach Strachan about his son’s game-clinching play, “so they ran the same route and he undercut it and it was good.”
When asked about how much winning on Thanksgiving means, Strachan added, “It’s huge. We battled injuries just like everyone else has, but this was a big game for the program. Like I said to the kids, these games mean something and these kids responded.”
FRANKLIN, Mass. – Franklin has made a name for itself this season with a high-powered offense that is capable of a big play at any time, but in Friday’s Div. 1 South quarterfinal at Pisini Stadium the Panthers showed that there is another side to their game as well.
The Franklin defense only allowed Attleboro to cross midfield once all night, allowing the Panthers to grind out a 14-0 victory on a pair of second half touchdowns and book a second straight appearance in the sectional semifinal.
“What I told the kids at halftime is this is going to be a character test,” said Franklin coach Eian Bain. “We’re going to define out character right here and you have to win these types of games this time of year.”
He added, “We needed to call a better game and get our guys in better positions, but I think once we went into the half we felt more comfortable with what they were in so we felt better about the calls we were making and had a better idea of how to attack them.”
The Panthers got the ball to start the second half and they put in their best drive of the game to score what turned out to be the game-winning touchdown. Franklin marched 66 yards on 13 plays, showing off a balance between the ground game with Owen Palmieri (14 carries, 65 yards) and its typically potent passing game.
It was a methodical drive. Until the Panthers got inside the red zone, no play went for more than 11 yards and they converted four third downs. Thomas Gasbarro (20-of-31, 187 yards) hit four different receivers on the possession, including Palmieri, who finished with more than 100 yards of total offense, Jake Davis (eight catches, 82 yards), and Jack Nally.
It was Nally (five catches, 48 yards) who made the big play, grabbing a pass on the near sideline and shaking the grasp of an Attleboro tackler to get into the end zone from 16 yards out.
“I think we were really good on third down in the second half and in the first half a couple times we got bogged down on the other end of the field,” Bain explained. “Part of that was trying to get us in better third down situations so it wasn’t third and eight all game and maybe more third and fours and fives.”
Attleboro quarterback Jason Weir was injured while playing defensive back on that drive, possibly after nearly sacking Gasbarro on the play preceding the touchdown, and sophomore Blake Garzaro stepped in to replace him.
“I can’t be prouder,” he said. “We had five sophomores out there and went toe-to-toe for three quarters and a little more tonight. I thought we played physical, we didn’t quit, and they’ve got athletes everywhere but I thought we contained them. It’s something to build off for our young kids for sure.”
Franklin moved the ball well on its second possession of the half as well, but Gasbarro was sacked at the Attleboro 24 to end the third quarter and Qualeem Charles put pressure on the quarterback to force an incompletion on third down. Kicker Parker Cheuvront, who had missed from 27 yards in the first quarter, had his kick blocked and it remained a one-score game.
Again it was the Panthers defense that came through to get the ball right back. Austin Jordan sacked Garzaro for a 10-yard loss and on third down they were able top wrap Murray up on a 14-yard gain that came up four yards short of the marker.
“We knew if we have points, the way our defense has been playing we could do a lot of great things,” Bain said. “We just needed to get over the hump and get on the board. It also put more pressure on them because they were happy to grind the tempo down. “
Starting at midfield, Franklin put together a drive to seal the victory. Palmieri and Gasbarro each rushed for five yards for a first down and then Nally followed with back-to-back six yard sweeps for another. A seven-yard draw to Nally with 10 yards tacked on because of a personal foul got the Panthers to the Attleboro 11.
Charles came through with a big stop on Palmieri for a four-yard loss. Two penalties and a loss of yards on a Gasbarro scramble pushed Franklin back to the 17 for fourth and 16. Gasbarro tried to get to the marker with his legs and appeared to have the first down only for a holding call to bring the play back to the 23.
Again Franklin went for it and this time found the end zone. Gasbarro picked out Davis at the two-yard-line and the senior receiver twisted and stretched his way to pay dirt.
Davis then wrapped up the win with two minutes remaining when he made an acrobatic, juggling interception.
“We didn’t know what they were going to come out in because they could’ve gone a lot of different ways today,” Bain said of the Bombardiers. “I thought they had a great game plan on both sides of the ball and really gave us a hard time tonight.”
Franklin (6-2) advances to the sectional semifinal for the second straight season and will host Brockton in a rematch of last year’s quarterfinal that the Panthers won. Attleboro (3-5) will wait for the identity of its next opponent.
Attleboro got off to a strong start to the 2018 season, jumping out to a 4-1 record with its only loss coming against eventual D2 South champ King Philip, and allowing only five points per game. But a last-minute loss in a shootout against Mansfield and a fourth quarter comeback by Franklin the following week sparked a six-game losing streak to close out the season. The Bombardiers come into 2019 looking to turn that around and use its experience to make a run at the Kelley-Rex title.
Offensively, the Bombardiers will be led by senior quarterback Jason Weir. At a bruising 6-foot-3 and 215 pounds, Weir is a punishing runner and has a big arm to make plays downfield in the passing game. Junior Justin Daniels will be the starting tailback with senior Isaac Guidel and a big offensive line trying to open holes for the running game, led by senior Qualeem Charles (6-foot-5 and 325 pounds), who has a host of colleges recruiting him. Senior Ethan Cameron will provide a weapon on the outside, while junior Michael Strachan offers another threat over the middle from his tight end position.
Charles will dominate the line of scrimmage on the defensive side of the ball as well, but the strength of the Attleboro defense will be its experienced linebacker corps. Strachan, a three-year starter who is getting looks from some Div. I colleges, will be joined by Guidel and senior Nolan Jaeger. Weir will play strong safety, after two seasons at defensive end, and will be counted on to step in to help stop the run. Cameron will be at free safety and giving the cornerbacks help over the middle. Attleboro has a large contingent of sophomores who could step in to contribute right away, including Alvin Harrison, Chris Leonardo, Adam Pearlstein, and Freddy Wheaton.
Attleboro coach Mike Strachan said, “We are looking forward to the season getting underway and with the leadership of our four captains we are looking to be explosive on offense and very physical defensively. The Hockomock League is one of the best leagues in the state with some great teams. We will have to play our very best each week if we are going to compete at a high level.”
Franklin nearly pulled off the biggest upset of the 2018 season when the Panthers forced perennial power Xaverian to double overtime in the Div. 1 South semifinal. It was a big step forward for the program and head coach Eian Bain hopes it will be a building block for even more success in 2019.
Offensively, the graduation of quarterback Nick Gordon will be a big loss for the Panthers but senior Thomas Gasbarro saw a lot of time under center last year and he will step in and take the starting job. Gasbarro will have plenty of weapons to choose from, as the Panthers have plenty of speedy, athletic players in the skill positions. Senior Jack Nally is a threat out of the backfield or split out wide and his classmate Jake Davis is a solid receiver over the middle or downfield. Senior Matt Lazarek is a potential target from the tight end position and Owen Palmieri is another dangerous ball carrier. Junior Parker Cheuvront emerged last season as one of the top kickers in the Hock and is another weapon that the Panthers can count on if a drive does stall.
The defense is an experienced group. Senior Evan Wertz has been one of the league’s tackle leaders for the past two seasons and he is the team’s top playmaker from his linebacker position. Nally, Davis, Palmieri, and senior Ben Greco give Franklin a tough secondary to throw against and all are capable of coming up with the big turnover to get the ball back in the hands of the offense. Luke Cunningham and Dom Natale will give the Panthers strength at the line of scrimmage.
“The challenge for this group is to continue to improve and build the program,” said Bain. “They need to add their own chapter and their own stamp on the program. We have the right people in the room. We need to play with the swagger and confidence of a contender, but be humble in our preparation. If we stay true to the process, we have great potential.”
Despite not winning the league title last year, the target on King Philip’s back continues to grow.
The Warriors might have missed out on the Kelley-Rex crown, but they won their third straight sectional title and made their this straight appearance in the state final, this time falling to North Andover (6-0). While this year’s senior class knows other than Super Bowl appearances, head coach Brian Lee says this group is focused on taking it one game, starting with the opener against North Attleboro. KP has a strong core of players back on the offensive side of the ball, including quarterback Robbie Jarest and running back Ryan Halliday. Both players had really strong junior seasons and should be the leaders of the group this year. The offensive line includes returners Nolan Gunning (left tackle), Sean Piller (center), and Pat Zarba (right guard) while Wyatt Manzi, Jack Collentro, and Griffin MacKay are in the mix to fill the remaining spots. Having an experienced line bodes well for the KP run game that will heavily feature Ryan Halliday plus fullback Shawn Conniff and halfbacks Sam Callanan and Crawford Cantave.
The Warriors’ defense has been one of the best units in the state in recent years, and while the expectations remain high for the group, there will be a lot of new faces. KP graduated its entire secondary so the Warriors are turning to senior Brian Wasserug and Cantave, a sophomore, to take on starting spots. Halliday and Callanan, both captains, will handle outside linebacker duties with Mike Malatesta in the mix for the middle spot. Gunning and Manzi will also see action on the defensive line alongside Conniff. Dillon Conti takes over kicking duties for the departed Cole Baker.
“These kids know how much work, how much effort it takes to get where we want to be,” Lee said. “But it’s all about going game by game, starting this week with a team [North Attleboro] that we have a ton of respect for.”
Looking at the long list of returning players, it is no surprise that expectations around Alumni Field are sky high this fall. Mansfield enters the season with experience at just about every position and with the bitter taste of last year’s South final loss to rival King Philip still stinging. Despite a rash of injuries that forced running back Aidan Sacco to play as an emergency quarterback for most of the season, Mansfield still won a league title and this year’s team may be even more talented, which has ramped up the hype and put the target squarely on the Hornets’ backs.
The line of scrimmage will be a strength for the Hornets on the offensive side of the ball, as they return four of five starters from last year’s unit that allowed the team to rush for more than 2,600 yards. Senior Jason Comeau and reigning HockomockSports.com Underclassman of the Year TJ Guy will be two key cogs in the line, while senior Noah Jellenik and junior Jake McCoy are also back. Senior Andrew Cowles will step into the fifth spot. They will seek to protect senior quarterback Jack Moussette, who had a cameo under center last year before an injury forced him to miss the bulk of the season. The skill positions will be loaded with athletes. Cincere Gill had a breakout sophomore season at running back and senior Nick Marciano is back after an injury cut short his junior season. Senior Michael DeBolt was one of the top kickers in the league but also gives Mansfield another weapon on the edges, while senior Vinnie Holmes adds a bruising presence coming out of the backfield.
Holmes is the headliner on the defensive side of the ball. Along with fellow linebackers Marciano, DeBolt, and senior Joe Plath, Holmes will be expected to make big plays all over the field. The defensive line will be strong with three returning players: senior Chris Graham, McCoy, and Guy. Junior Nico Holmes will step in as the fourth man on the line. Much like on offense, speed will be a strength and the secondary is loaded with playmakers, including Gill, junior Matt Boen, and senior Makhi Baskin.
“We have a bunch of experience all over the field, but we really have to develop depth with the second team to handle a tough schedule and challenges every week,” said Mansfield coach Mike Redding. “This is one of the fastest group of skill guys we’ve ever had and we could be explosive on offense. We lack a little size up front on defense, but we should be able to overcome that by flying around with pursuit to the ball with our speed.”
There was no question that 2018 was a tough season for the Tigers. Oliver Ames lost by a point in the season opener to Concord-Carlisle and didn’t earn its only win until the penultimate game against Durfee. The Tigers will hope to turn things around quickly with an infusion of young talent under new head coach Ed DeWitt.
On offense, the players will be learning a new system, but there is experience in the backfield to try and implement different schemes. Senior running back Nathan Cabral figures to see plenty of the ball again this year after his breakout junior season in which he ran for more than 1,100 yards. He will be joined by senior quarterback Cam Perron and senior running back Sam Stevens to give the Tigers a strong core. Seniors Harrison Webster and Adam Cann (who is coming off an injury) will give Perron weapons to utilize on the outside.
There will be a lot of new faces on the defensive side, as DeWitt can call on three or four returning starters and will need a number of players to provide contributions on both sides of the ball. The linebacking corps was particularly hit by graduations, although senior Tyler Campbell can provide some experience and leadership in that position and Cabral brings athleticism to the role. Max Anderson and Anthony DeCosta will be important at the line of scrimmage, while Stevens will step into the secondary along with senior corner Nick Gillis and junior corner Jadon Ricci.
“The competition in camp has been great,” DeWitt said. “The players have committed to the program and bought into the day to day work that we need to do. We are focusing on making sure we treat every day as an opportunity to improve and string together some positive momentum.”
The Tigers started last season with three straight wins and then finished with three wins in their final four games to end 2018 with a winning record. Taunton enters this fall with a relatively inexperienced roster, but one that is looking to continue the momentum in the program and try to push forward so it can challenge the top teams in the Kelley-Rex division.
One of the biggest changes for the Tigers will be under center. Noah Leonard was the starter for three seasons, but junior Danny MacDougall will take over this year. MacDougall will also see time at receiver to try and take advantage of his athleticism. He will be joined in the backfield by classmates Bretton Heggs and Josh Lopes, who both got time at running back as sophomores. Juniors Kedrick Santos and Devante McPhail will be the primary weapons at receiver. Up front, the Tigers have decent size. Senior Mike Murray will be at center, senior Hussein Kassab at one tackle, junior Marquis Dalomba at the other tackle, and junior Jordan Manning at guard.
Similar to the offensive side of the ball, the Tigers lack experience on defense and are still learning the schemes, but physical scrimmages have helped prepare them for the season. Senior Woudanly Danger is a force at the line of scrimmage and will require attention from opponents and senior Jackson Wellman has been one of the team’s top tacklers from linebacker. Junior defensive end Deandre McPhail adds to the strength of the line. Senior Curt Marshall and MacDougall will be the safeties and senior Cam Carroca will be at corner.
“We’re going to keep doing what we’re doing and trying to get better and to be competitive in the league,” said Taunton coach Brad Sidwell. “We’re definitely inexperienced, but physically we have guys who can do it and we need to coach them up so they’ll be ready to go once the season gets started.”
Football – Non-Playoffs
Foxboro, 28 vs. Norton, 14 – Final 1st Quarter: (N) Tyler Elliot 12-yard pass to Hunter Murphy, XP blocked; (F) Keyshawn Sanders 44-yard rush, Russell Neale XP good.
2nd Quarter: (F) Phil Thomas 36-yard pass to Shayne Kerrigan, R. Neale XP good.
3rd Quarter: (F) K. Sanders 2-yard rush, R. Neale XP good.
4th Quarter: (F) Mike Luong 5-yard rush, R. Neale XP good; (N) Nate Sicard 5-yard rush, 2pt conversion good.
Attleboro, 24 vs. BC High, 41 – Final 1st Quarter: (A) Justin Cote 1-yard rush, XP failed; (BCH) Brendan Cassamajor 5-yard rush, #84 XP good; (BCH) Kaleb Moody interception return, XP good.
2nd Quarter: (BCH) Jacob Perez 40-yard rush, XP good; (BCH) K. Moody 34-yard rush, XP good.
3rd Quarter: (BCH) Bobby Wiesenhahn 2-yard rush, XP is good; (A) Jason Weir 24-yard pass to Alex Rodriguez, 2pt pass failed.
4th Quarter: (A) A. Rodriguez 14-yard rush, 2pt pass is no good; (BCH) B. Wiesenhahn 5-yard pass to Aidan Sullivan, XP failed; (A) J. Weir 11-yard pass to Justin Daniels, 2pt rush failed.
Stoughton, 0 @ Braintree, 26 – Final
Girls Soccer – Non-Playoffs
Milford vs. Hopedale, 3:30
Field Hockey D1 South
#13 Franklin, 9 vs. #20 Durfee, 2 – Final – Franklin’s offense was nearly unstoppable in the first half, scoring seven goals in a big win over visiting Durfee in the playoff opener for both sides. Amanda Lewandowski scored four goals all in the first half as Franklin raced out to a 5-0 lead in the first 22 minutes. Ashley Reutlinger added two assists in a goal in the first half while Victoria Quinn finished with two goals, Cassi Ronan had two assists, Sara Carney had one helper, and Regan Paterson and Olivia Rondeau each scored once for the Panthers. Franklin advances to play #3 Notre Dame Academy in Hingham on Saturday at 4:00.
#16 Mansfield, 0 vs. #17 Scituate, 1 – Final (OT)
#18 Taunton, 2 @ #15 Wellesley, 3 – Final – Taunton took a 1-0 lead in the game and were tied 1-1 at halftime, but Wellesley built a two-goal advantage in the second half. The Raiders scored the first two goals of the second half to go up 3-1 before Taunton made it a one-goal game. Alana Tavares and Cierra Bartel scored for Taunton, Caitlin Connors and Jillian Pagliuca each had an assist, and Emma Sheehan made seven saves in net.
#21 Oliver Ames, 0 @ #12 Braintree, 1 – Final
#1 Foxboro, 1 vs. #16 Falmouth, 0 – Final (2OT) – Foxboro senior Sophia DiCenso scored the game-winning goal 25 seconds into the second overtime to help the top-seeded Warriors advance to the D2 South quarterfinals. Foxboro will play the winner of #8 Cohasset vs. #9 Martha’s Vineyard on Sunday at 7:00 at Mansfield High School.
Field Hockey – Non-Playoffs
Milford, 2 @ Sharon, 0 – Final – Milford senior Emily Haley scored her first career goal to help the Scarlet Hawks end the season on a high note. Junior Tatiana Martinez also scored in the win while Paige Reisman recorded the shutout in goal.
#9 King Philip, 3 @ #8 Medford, 0 – Final – King Philip opened the postseason with a 3-0 sweep over Medford (25-14, 25-8, 25-10) Catherine Waldeck had 11 kills and a pair of blocks, Nicole Coughlan added five aces, six kills, two blocks, and 19 service points, and Shayla Weitzman chipped in with four aces, a kill, and 12 service points. KP will take on top-seeded Newton North (12-2) on Monday at 5:00 at Newton North High School.
#15 Milford, 1 @ #2 Groton-Dunstable, 3 – Final
MANSFIELD, Mass. – All the build-up to Friday night’s Kelley-Rex division title showdown at Alumni Field presumed that Mansfield and Attleboro were going to slug it out in a defensive battle with points difficult to come by. It turned out to be the exact opposite.
Senior Khristian Conner scored with 32 seconds remaining in the game to give Mansfield the edge over the Bombardiers 42-35 and clinch the Hornets at least a share of the league title. It is Mansfield’s first division championship since 2013.
“It means everything,” said Conner about getting back on top in the league. “We worked hard over the summer for it. We just kept with it, didn’t let anything stop us and we just got the win. It feels amazing. It feels awesome.
Mansfield coach Mike Redding added, “This was an unbelievable high school football game. They came to play, they answered every time we had the momentum. Thank god we answered when they did.” Redding joked, “So many plays on both sides…it will be a fun one to watch; it was a tough one to coach.”
Attleboro took its only lead of the game with 1:39 remaining in the fourth quarter. Justin Cote (seven carries, 50 yards), who had also caught a 20-yard pass on the go-ahead drive, raced up the middle for a 12-yard score that tied the game at 34-34. Two false starts pushed the extra point attempt back 10 yards but sophomore Colby Briggs was unfazed and split the uprights to put the visitors in front.
The Bombardiers had forced Mansfield to punt just twice on the night, but after Nick Evans sacked Hornets quarterback Aidan Sacco for no gain the hosts faced fourth and 10 from their own 26. Sacco (5-of-8, 111 yards) bought time and hit Cincere Gill for 28 yards over the middle. The sophomore, who rushed for three touchdowns on the night, was covered but managed to pull in the pass to keep the game alive.
Sacco (nine carries, 79 yards) rushed for nine yards and then broke free on a keeper to the left sideline for 26 yards and got out of bounds at the Attleboro 11. On the next play, Conner completed the comeback by finding a seam right up the gut for the score.
“They’re a really good team – good defensive team, good on offense – and they have great players but we just had to fight through it to be the better team,” Conner said.
Attleboro’s offense had found ways to come back all game long, but with only 32 seconds, there just wasn’t enough time to get up the field and a pass to Cote for four yards on fourth and 10 ended the game.
“Our offense played really, really well,” said Attleboro coach Mike Strachan. “Weir played awesome, it was just back-and-forth. We could definitely win the game, we just didn’t give him enough time at the end.”
Both offenses were able to move the ball from the opening kick-off. Mansfield took its opening possession 56 yards on seven plays to get a quick lead. Gill finished off the drive with a seven-yard sweep.
The Bombardiers returned the favor with a 12-play, 75-yard drive on its first possession. Attleboro surprised the Hornets by going to the air with greater frequency than usual and junior Jason Weir (18-29, 251 yards) had a big night, hitting nine different receivers. After catching a halfback pass from Ethan Cameron (five catches, 69 yards), Weir capped the drive with a three-yard toss to Jacob Weatherford.
Mansfield got the lead back late in the second quarter when Sacco threw a 26-yard strike to Conner, who had gotten wide open in the front corner of the end zone. Attleboro answered right back, as Weir connected with sophomore Justin Daniels to make it 14-14 with 2:28 left in the half.
That was plenty of time for Mansfield to add another touchdown. Sacco got the Hornets to the Attleboro 31 and then Gill broke free for his second score of the night. He cut back on a sweep, finding a hole in the middle of the line and exploding through it.
“He’s special and I think we have a very good running back,” Redding said of Gill. “Vinnie [Holmes] had some decent runs, but they were bottling us up inside and Khristian ran hard, Cincere ran hard, Aidan had some nice runs and throws and just doing enough to overcome some injuries.”
Even with just a minute on the clock, Attleboro was able to get the ball into the red zone again and had a touchdown called back when the officials ruled Weir had cross the line of scrimmage before he threw. Makhi Baskin picked off the final throw of the half. Coming out of the break, the Bombardiers got the ball again, but on the first play Weir was stripped of the ball and Holmes recovered for the Hornets at the Attleboro 23.
Mansfield took advantage of the short field and Sacco got on the board with an 11-yard keeper to make it 28-14. It felt like the Hornets were about to break the game wide open. Instead, Attleboro came right back down field and cut the lead to one score. A 13-play, 75 yard drive ended on a one-yard sneak by Weir to make it 28-21.
The track meet continued on Mansfield’s next possession. Sacco hit Conner for a 26-yard completion to get into Attleboro territory. Four plays later, on fourth and two from the 21, Gill took another sweep around the end and broke free, adding his third touchdown of the night. Attleboro would give itself a lifeline by blocking Michael DeBolt’s extra point attempt, but it was a 13-point Mansfield lead.
Attleboro made it a quick response. Weir got the ball out to the sideline to Kevin Velazquez-Rivera, who then turned up field and showed off his speed for a 45-yard touchdown. Evans made a huge stop on third and five, stuffing Sacco for a four-yard loss and forcing a rare Mansfield punt.
The Bombardiers came right back, with Weir connecting with Cameron on a fourth down pass to the near sideline that kept the drive going. After a 20-yard completion to Cote, the senior running back took it himself, going straight up the middle for the 12-yard TD. Briggs held his nerve to put Attleboro in front and on the verge of arguably the program’s biggest win since its move to the Hock.
But, Mansfield showed that it has some grit as well. The Hornets found a way to pull out the victory and will go into the final week of the regular season with a chance to clinch the title outright.
“These games just always seem to go back-and-forth,” Strachan said. “We’ve just got to bounce back against Franklin and play well. I thought we did a good job; they’ve got athletes everywhere, you’ve got to defend everything.”
Redding noted that the Hornets lost a pair of seniors, Chris Copponi and Daenin Walker, to injuries. He said, “We’ve had adversity every week but still find a way to beat an awfully good football team.”
Mansfield (5-1, 4-0) will travel to Oliver Ames next week to try and close out a perfect league campaign and potentially take the top spot in Div. 2 South. Attleboro (4-2, 2-2) will try to bounce back and possibly secure a first round home game in the Div. 1 South tournament with a trip to Franklin.
Game of the Week – Football
Attleboro, 35 @ Mansfield, 42 – Final 1st Quarter: (M) Cincere Gill 7-yard rush, Michael DeBolt XP good; (A) Jason Weir 5-yard pass to Jacob Weatherford, Colby Briggs XP good.
2nd Quarter: (M) Aidan Sacco 26-yard pass to Khristian Connor, M. DeBolt XP good; (A) J. Weir 24-yard pass to Justin Daniels, C. Briggs XP good; (M) C. Gill 31-yard rush, M. DeBolt XP good.
3rd Quarter: (M) A. Sacco 11-yard rush, M. DeBolt XP good; (A) J. Weir 1-yard rush, C. Briggs XP good.
4th Quarter: (M) C. Gill 21-yard rush, XP blocked; (A) J. Weir 45-yard pass to Kevin Velazquez-Rivera, C. Briggs XP good; (A) Justin Cote 12-yard rush, C. Briggs XP good. (M) K. Connor 11-yard rush, A. Sacco 2-point pass to Vinnie Holmes.
Sharon, 0 @ Canton, 39 – Final 1st Quarter: (C) Kyle Fitzgerald 17-yard rush, Owen Lehane XP good; (C) K. Fitzgerald 3-yard rush, XP failed.
2nd Quarter: (C) K. Fitzgerald 64-yard punt return, XP failed; (C) Johnny Hagan 27-yard pass to Gersom Rivera, XP failed; (C) G. Rivera 10-yard rush, O. Lehane XP good.
3rd Quarter: (C) Cam Sanchez 20-yard rush, O. Lehane XP good.
4th Quarter: No scoring.
Milford, 42 @ Foxboro, 28 – Final
Franklin, 42 @ Taunton, 7 – Final 1st Quarter: (F) Nick Gordon 32-yard pass to Ryan Driscoll, Parker Chevrant XP good; (F) N. Gordon 56-yard pass to R. Driscoll, P. Chevrant XP good.
2nd Quarter: (F) Owen Palmieri 1-yard rush, P. Chevrant XP good; (F) N. Gordon 45-yard pass to Jake Davis, P. Chevrant XP good.
3rd Quarter: (T) Noah Leonard 1-yard rush, Coby Adams XP good.
4th Quarter: (F) N. Gordon 15-yard pass to Jack Nally, P. Chevrant XP good; (F) Sean Hofferty 4-yard rush, P. Chevrant XP good.
King Philip, 34 @ Oliver Ames, 15 – Final 1st Quarter: (OA) Nathan Cabral 5-yard rush, Remi Creighton XP good; (KP) Robbie Jarest 19-yard past to Sam Sessay, Cole Baker XP good.
2nd Quarter: (KP) Ryan Halliday 6-yard rush, C. Baker XP good; (KP) R. Jarest 2-yard pass to David Morganelli, C. Baker XP good.
3rd Quarter: (KP) R. Halliday 8-yard rush, C. Baker XP good; (OA) Darnele Ryan 1-yard rush, Dean Pacini 2pt rush good.
4th Quarter: (KP) R. Halliday 1-yard rush, 2pt failed.
Stoughton, 21 @ North Attleboro, 10 – Final 1st Quarter: No scoring.
2nd Quarter: (S) John Burke 1-yard rush, Josh Cocchi XP good.
3rd Quarter: (NA) Tyler DeMattio 27-yard field goal.
4th Quarter: (NA) Nick Raneri 7-yard rush, T. DeMattio XP good; (S) J. Burke 29-yard pass to Ajahn Rue, J. Cocchi XP good; (S) Christopher Ais 11-yard rush, J. Cocchi XP good.
Attleboro, 1 @ Mansfield, 1 – Final – Attleboro controlled the first half and took a 1-0 lead but Mansfield took over in the second half and found the equalizer. Colin Levis gave the visitors the lead in the 31st minute but Mansfield freshman Dylan Buchanan was crediting for the tying goal, with the Bombardiers have an own goal.
Franklin, 0 @ King Philip, 2 – Final – King Philip scored inside the first and last five minutes of the match to earn two points at home and keep its postseason hopes alive. Senior captain Ian Zimmerman gave the hosts the lead in the third minute, finishing off a cross from classmate John Cullen. Cam Lawrence added the insurance tally in the 75th minute, scoring on a volley on an assist from Gavon Fox. Aidan Lindmark made four saves to record the shutout.
Milford @ Sharon – Postponed to Saturday, 10/20 at 6:00.
North Attleboro @ Stoughton – Postponed to Monday, 10/15 at 3:45.
Mansfield, 3 @ Attleboro, 0 – Final – Mansfield’s Steph Kemp found the back of the net twice while Sydney Mulkern capped the scoring, leading the Hornets to a shutout win on the road. Bryn Anderson had two assists while Katy Garvin added one helper for the Hornets.
Foxboro, 1 @ Walpole, 0 – Final – Foxboro used an early second half goal and solid play from its defense and goalies to pick up a win on the road at Walpole and stay unbeaten on the season. Lizzy Davis had the lone goal, scoring an unassisted tally early in the second half.
King Philip, 1 @ Franklin, 1 – Final – After a scoreless first half, Ally Stanton broke the deadlock midway through the second half off an Avery Snead assist. Erin Quaile equalized for Franklin just four minutes later off a Carly Alston assist. Breanna Atwood made nine saves and Taylor Butler made five saves for the Warriors, as both teams earned a point.
Stoughton, 1 @ North Attleboro, 8 – Final – Ashlyn Gaulin scored four times to help the Rocketeers clinch a spot in the state tournament. Kayla Pasquel had a pair of goals and an assist and Abi Slaney scored the first two goals of her career. Lily Cameron had a pair of assists, while Haley Ferrin, Emma Gaulin and Lydia Santos each had one assist in the win. Stoughton sophomore Ashley Camilo scored on an assist from Hannah Papagno.
Sharon, 0 @ Milford, 2 – Final – Cassie Probert and Juliana France each scored their third goals of the season for the Hawks to help the team earn its third win of the season. Olivia Marshall had the clean sheet for Milford, her third this fall, making seven saves in the win.
Attleboro, 4 @ Stoughton, 0 – Final – In her third varsity game, freshman Emelia Westwater scored her first varsity goal, and then scored another as the Bombardiers netted a win on the road. Anna Beck and Emma Briggs also scored for Attleboro in the victory.
Canton, 0 @ Foxboro, 2 – Final
Oliver Ames, 0 @ Taunton, 0 – Final – Taunton goalie Emma Sheehan made seven saves in net to help the host Tigers earn a draw.
Oliver Ames, 3 @ Bridgewater-Raynham, 0 – FinalOliver Ames went on the road and picked up a 3-0 sweep (25-13, 25-18, 25-11) over Bridgewater-Raynham to qualify for the state tournament. Sadie Homer had 29 digs for the Tigers, Jordan Bosse added 14 kills and three aces, and sophomore Sarah Morley had a balanced defensive game for the Tigers.
King Philip, 0 @ Walpole, 3 – Final – King Philip went on the road and fell to Walpole. Catherine Waldeck had five kills and two blocks and Shayla Weitzman added nine digs for the Warriors.
Sharon, 153 @ Attleboro, 179 – Final
King Philip, 172 @ Foxboro, 173 – Final
Franklin @ Oliver Ames – Postponed to a date and time to be announced.