Sharon Comeback Spoils Canton Title Hopes

Matt Cancian
Matt Cancian (27) rushed for a pair of second half touchdowns and had one of Sharon’s four interceptions in a 30-14 victory on Saturday. (Josh Perry/

By Josh Perry, Managing Editor

SHARON, Mass. – Coming into Saturday afternoon’s regular season finale, the conversation between fans from Canton and Sharon centered on seedings, rankings, and coefficients. The uncertainty of the playoff system loomed over the proceedings, even overwhelming the fact that a win would give the Bulldogs their first league title since 1990.

Canton stormed out of the gates and led by two scores in the first half, but the Eagles were intent on spoiling the moment and rattled off 30 straight points, while intercepting four passes and allowing only one Bulldogs first down in the second half of a 30-14 victory.

Sharon coach Dave Morse insisted it was the best half of football that his team had played all season and he believed that it was enough to get the Eagles into the tournament.

“That’s about it man,” he said. “You come out and shut out a team that’s feeling it, they’re rolling, it was an unbelievable half of football for us. When you come out and prepare correctly, we can execute correctly.”

Canton knew that it needed a win to share the Davenport crown with Foxboro, which had won on Friday night, and the Bulldogs were fired up at the start.

An interception by Jude Alpert near the end of the first quarter gave Canton possession at the Sharon 37. Eight plays later, Jake Ragusa (15 carries, 83 yards) punched it in from five yards out and Thomas Monagle added the kick to make it 7-0.

On Sharon’s next possession, the Bulldogs forced a three and out. Woanyen Mahn burst through the line and blocked the punt, which was recovered by Kymauny Roland and returned to the Sharon 32. Two plays later, Dennis Ross (3-11, 71 yards) looked for Michael Harris at the front corner of the end zone. Harris out-jumped two defenders to haul in the pass and make it 14-0.

“I thought there was blood in the water for us at 14-0,” said Canton coach Dave Bohane. “We knew they were good so 21-0, if we could get it would be the type of thing that you can make a good team question themselves, but we didn’t and they came back.”

Sharon needed a response and got it on its next drive. Juvan Elisma had two carries to get it to midfield followed by a Rob Bayha pass to Joey Dowler down to the Canton 33. Elisma (15 carries, 81 yards) did the rest, bursting through the line and sprinting to the far sideline for a 33-yard touchdown that cut the lead in half and gave the Eagles momentum heading into the break.

“It’s almost like in hockey when you go down 3-0 you’re screwed but you go down 2-1 then you’re okay,” explained Morse. “In OA we went down and came back, against Sandwich we went down and came back…mentally we are pretty tough and our guys keep fighting.”

Canton got the ball first and was forced to punt. On its possession, Sharon moved the ball to the Bulldogs 10, with the help of a horse collar and a late hit penalty, but was forced to settle for a 27-yard Josh Rotman field goal that made it 14-10.

Sensing that the Eagles had the upper hand, Morse called for an onside kick. The Eagles were quickest to the loose ball and recovered at their own 47. Canton’s defense held and forced a punt, but the energy was clearly on the home sideline in the third quarter.

Sharon stopped Ragusa for two short gains and then Bryce Smith intercepted Ross’ pass to give the Eagles ball at the Canton 11. Three plays later and Matt Cancian pushed it across from seven yards out to give Sharon its first lead at 17-14.

After another Canton punt, Bayha (7-17, 112) hit Tyler Smith for a 26-yard completion and the Eagles offense was in business again. Following a pass interference call against Canton, Cancian got the corner and went 15 yards for his second touchdown of the half.

“I thought we made the right adjustments at halftime,” said Bohane, “but just never got field position. I thought there were a couple times in the game that we looked a little bit slow but we can attribute that to they had some quick kids.”

With five minutes remaining in the game, Bryce Smith picked off Ross for the second time in the game and would have returned it for a score only to be denied by an illegal block call. Cancian nearly had his third touchdown only to have the ball pop out at the one, which Canton recovered for a touchback.

Rather than be dismayed by the turnover, the Sharon senior captain immediately got the ball back for his team when he picked off Ross’ pass on Canton’s first play. Bayha made sure that the turnover counted when he found Bryce Smith down the sideline for a 30-yard touchdown with just 2:40 on the clock.

“We’re more comfortable moving the ball on the ground,” admitted Bohane. “We thought that we had some mismatches in there and the kids played well for Sharon and it is hard when you’re not getting those plus yards on first down, second down.”

Morse said, “The secondary was exceptional. Four picks is four picks; that’s tough to do.”

He added, “We did on any individual player even though [Ragusa] is great. Scheme-wise we put something together that we liked and our guys executed.”

Not to be outdone by his brother, Tyler Smith picked off the final pass to seal the Eagles victory and give Sharon a chance to look ahead to a possible playoff opponent.

Morse said, “I’m pumped up. We won against a good team to put us in. It’s a great win; it’s a great feeling. I bet our kids will have a real pep in their step this week at practice.”

Bohane was left deflated, as the Bulldogs were left without the league title and possibly left out of the playoffs on the final day for the second straight season.

When asked if he though that the postseason was still a possibility, Bohane responded, “I hope so. We’d love to get in the playoffs and represent the Hockomock League.”

Playoff brackets will be released by the MIAA on Sunday.

Josh Perry can be contacted at and followed on Twitter at @Josh_Perry10.

Cardiac Kids Strike Again, Canton Beats Milford in OT

Jake Ragusa
Jake Ragusa (20) celebrates his third quarter touchdown that tied the game with Milford at 14-14. Canton would eventually win in OT. (Josh Perry/

By Josh Perry, Managing Editor

CANTON, Mass. – The official walked over to the sidelines with 45 seconds remaining on the clock and commented on how great the game was and that he was impressed that Canton was going to be 3-0. He laughed when it was suggested that maybe he was speaking too soon. He joked, if Milford came back that he would take the blame from the Canton coaches. 

Forty-five seconds later, the game was heading to overtime and the official could only shake his head about his earlier statement.

Canton recovered and pulled out the win, despite giving up a touchdown with just eight seconds left in regulation. The Bulldogs defense held Milford to just one yard gained on three plays in overtime (in which each drive starts at the 10 yard line).

After Hawks kicker Sean Lehane sent his 25-yard field goal narrowly wide of the right upright, Canton had the chance to end the game. Jake Ragusa went five yards on a toss sweep and then, on second and goal, fellow captain Joe Bires took the handoff up the middle and into the end zone to send the sidelines charging onto the field for a raucous celebration.

Canton coach Dave Bohane admitted that he was thinking about a field goal when the Bulldogs got the ball, but added, “We had great fan support and a lot of Joe’s friends were up there so I knew he’d be hard to tackle.”

The 27-21 victory was the second straight overtime win for the Bulldogs and, remarkably, six points is the largest margin of victory in any of their three games thus far.

“Coming off last season, we were worried,” admitted Ragusa when asked how it felt to be 3-0. “We weren’t sure about quarterback and other spots…We just try to come out here and work hard every day; learning something new every day.”

Milford (1-2) was on the verge of putting the game away in the first half. Blake Hill (119 yards of offense) had scored on a four-yard run in the first quarter to give the Hawks the lead and he pulled in a 28-yard strike from Zach Lanzetta (10-23, 208 yards) with 1:02 left in the half to make it 14-0.

The crowd was quiet, the bench was down, and Canton was in desperate need of life. Ragusa provided it on the ensuing kick-off. He took the kick to the left and raced 70 yards before being dragged down at the Milford 15. Three plays later, Dennis Ross hooked up with Michael Harris in the back of the end zone to cut the lead in half.

“I don’t usually return kicks,” explained Ragusa, “but I got great blocking. I just saw the opening and took the shot. Again it all goes out to my teammates; teammates win games.”

Bohane added, “I felt like we needed that to let us know we’re still in this. We got the score and we could go into halftime, take a deep breath, and figure some things out.”

Canton punted on its first possession of the third, but Hill fumbled on the first play of Milford’s drive, as he was fighting for extra yards, and it was recovered by Woanyen Mahn at the Hawks 20. Ragusa (20 carries, 120 yards) went 13 on first down and then got seven yards, and six points, on the next play to tie the game at 14-14.

The score stayed the same until late in the fourth quarter when Canton got the ball back at its own 10. Bohane could be heard telling his assistants that he did not want to take a shot and risk a turnover, so the Bulldogs stayed on the ground. Ragusa and Bires got a first down, then it was Mahn with a 17-yard sweep.

After taking a shot downfield, Ragusa again went for 12. Mahn followed it up with 11 back to the near sideline. On the 10th play, Mahn again got the call and took it 16 yards to the Milford 15 forcing the Hawks into a timeout with 1:51 remaining in the game.

“Woanyen Mahn has turned the corner in the last few weeks and he had some key runs and of course Jake and Joe,” said Bohane. “Our line is very good and I think our conditioning played a role there in the end.”

On third and three from the eight, Ragusa went around the left side and carried the pile across the goal line for the go ahead score. The drive lasted 13 plays and covered 90 yards and put the Bulldogs up 21-14 with just 45 seconds left on the clock.

The drama was just beginning.

Milford got the ball back at its own 37. Lanzetta, who was under pressure from Djimon Harding and Kymauny Roland most of the game, threw three straight incomplete passes. But on the third, a flag was thrown for defensive holding to give the Hawks another first down.

After an eight yard completion to Jack DeSantis got the ball in Canton territory with 18 seconds left, Lanzetta found Leonardo Moronta on a deep crossing route and one broken tackle on the far side later he found paydirt on a 45-yard touchdown that stunned the crowd and the Canton sideline.

Rather than allowing the disappointment of that play cost the Bulldogs the game, Canton’s defense went right back out and made the plays it needed to give the offense a chance to win it.

“I just said let’s keep working,” said Ragusa of the conversation in the huddle before the start of overtime. “We have a good defense right here, keep believing and do your job. That’s what they did.”

Bohane noted, “The defense let up a big play to tie the game up and they went right back out there, much like they’ve been doing all year, they’ve faced adversity, rolled up their sleeves, and got the stop.”

The Bulldogs move to 3-0 and head into a showdown with fellow unbeaten Foxboro next week at World War II Veterans Memorial Field. Bohane joked that maybe it would be the Game of the Week, but he also said that beating Milford will give his team confidence that it can play with the top teams in the Davenport.

“People around here are like, do you have to [win] like that every week?” he joked. “But, to beat Milford for us is huge. A league win is just…monumental for us.”

“I think we can now look at the next games and say, hey we can play with these games. I think the kids will have confidence.”

Josh Perry can be contacted at and followed on Twitter at @Josh_Perry10.