ATTLEBORO, Mass. – King Philip had been inside the red zone three times and had held Attleboro without a first down for the first two quarters, but as halftime rapidly approached the Warriors were clinging to a 3-0 lead courtesy of a 20-yard field goal by freshman Cole Baker.
With the clock winding down in the half, KP pulled out a trick play to try and break the game open. Brendan Lydon hit Ethan Dunne for 15 yards on a hook and the receiver pitched the ball to tailback Shane Frommer, who raced the final 25 yards down the near sideline to make it 10-0 at the break.
KP got the ball back to start the second half and scored again. The Warriors went from just three points to three scores in front and never looked back on their way to a 36-13 victory over the Bombardiers that sealed at least a share of KP’s fourth Kelley-Rex division title in the past six years.
“You go in only up by three, it’s anyone’s game,” said KP coach Brian Lee about the hook and lateral. “You make a big play and then you start the half and come down…and now we’re up by three scores. It was a huge, huge play right before the half for us.”
KP dominated possession in the opening half, but struggled to finish drives. It started with an 11-play drive in the first quarter that got down to the Attleboro 10, but ended when Lydon (5-11, 78 yards) was picked off in the end zone by Cam Furtado (one of his two picks on the night). Following another three and out by the Bombardiers, KP marched down to the Attleboro 12, but Baker’s 19-yard field goal attempt was blocked.
“It was tough sledding,” admitted Lee about the struggles in the first half. “There’s some big beef in there. I think [Attleboro has] the meat more than Arby’s does”
Once again Attleboro went three and out and Andrew Gelsomini returned the punt to the Bombardiers 35. The Warriors got the ball down to the three but had to settle for a kick from Baker to take the lead.
KP got the ball back with less than two minutes remaining in the half at its own 38. After a false start, John DeLuca (12 carries, 74 yards) went for 10 on a keeper and then two plays later broke up the middle for a 17-yard gain on third down that put the Warriors at the Attleboro 40 with a shot to run the hook and lateral play that turned into a huge momentum swing.
“I thought we had a really solid game plan against them,” said Attleboro coach Mike Strachan, “but then the play right before the half, the hook and ladder…we look at situations and we practice situations but when you see it in a game it’s different.”
The Warriors started the third quarter with a 39-yard return by Frommer that set them up at the Attleboro 31. Frommer gained eight yards on fourth and two to keep the drive alive and then broke a 12-yard run to get inside the five. Lydon capped the drive with a 1-yard plunge to make it 17-0.
Attleboro finally got a first down on its first possession of the second half. Tyler McGovern (5-12, 104 yards) found Elvin Sam deep down the near sideline for a 28-yard gain. On the next play, Sam (three catches, 96 yards) managed to steal the ball out of the tight coverage of Andrew Dittrich for a 31-yard completion. After a penalty, Marc Dieu pushed it across for a two-yard score that got the hosts on the board.
From that point on, the Warriors wore down the Bombardiers, who lost Jason Mota to a bad leg injury in the first half and saw Andrew Gingras and Furtado not return to the game after halftime. KP continued to do what it does best and dominate the line of scrimmage with physical play.
“That’s a good football team,” Strachan said. “They’re physical and they deserve to be champions. We’ve got to get back to work. They wore us down and we’ve got some injuries that we have to overcome next week.”
A 12-play, 69-yard drive was finished off by a DeLuca 12-yard touchdown that restored the three-score lead. KP then went 51 yards in five plays that was ended when Frommer (19 carries, 102 yards) went over the right side for a 12-yard score. After an Attleboro punt, Giovanni Fernandez (eight carries, 103 yards) sealed the win with a 65-yard touchdown straight up the middle of the field.
“Tough sledding in there but trying to stay with what you do, staying patient with it,” said Lee about his team’s ability to break games open in the second half. “When the defense is playing good, it allows you to be patient and try to get our backs going and we were able to wear them down a little and pull away.”
Attleboro managed to get another score 1:49 left to play. McGovern again looked deep and found Sam for a 37-yard touchdown.
The Warriors (6-0, 4-0) have clinched a share of the league title and will have the opportunity to win it outright for the second time in the past three seasons (and the second time in program history) with a win at home against Taunton next Friday.
“We do not want to share,” Lee said. “We’re happy with this but as far as we’re concerned we want to go out and win it. [Taunton] looked really good last week and Coach Sid (Taunton coach Brad Sidwell) is a great coach…so you want to go out and play well.”
Attleboro (3-3, 2-2) will try to close out the regular season with a win at Franklin next Friday at Pisini Field.