DeMattio Sparks Big Red to Comeback at Attleboro

North Attleboro football
North Attleboro players lifted freshman quarterback Tyler DeMattio onto their shoulders after he sparked the Rocketeers with three touchdowns in the second half of their win against Attleboro. (Josh Perry/HockomockSports.com)

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ATTLEBORO, Mass. – The North Attleboro players looked around for Hilda, the trophy awarded to the winner of this Thanksgiving rivalry, but the trophy was nowhere to be found. So, instead, the Rocketeers lifted freshman kicker and quarterback Tyler DeMattio to celebrate another win in the long-running series with Attleboro.

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It was fitting that DeMattio’s teammates would lift him up after the game, since he stepped up in the second half and propelled North to the victory.

In his first snaps as varsity quarterback, DeMattio scored three touchdowns and accounted for all of North’s points on Thursday morning at a bitterly cold Tozier-Cassidy Field, sparking North to a come from behind 20-7 win over the Bombardiers.

“Tyler is a talented player, who has had a great year as a freshman and we’ve been watching him all along and felt like he was the next best available quarterback, so got him ready,” said North coach Don Johnson about DeMattio stepping in for the second half. He joked that DeMattio was North’s “secret weapon” and agreed that he was the “spark” that the Rocketeers needed.

Attleboro came close to adding to its 7-0 halftime lead on its first possession of the second half. Justin Cote (24 carries, 114 yards) and Jason Weir (14 carries, 95 yards) continued to find seams in the North defense and moved the ball down to the Rocketeers eight, using up almost the entire third quarter in the process.

Ethan Friberg stuffed Alex Rodrigues for a four-yard loss, Tom O’Neil stopped Weir for no gain and on fourth and nine John Kummer caught Cote after just a yard to get the ball back.

DeMattio took over from sophomore quarterback Matt Penta (nine carries, 43 yards), who replaced Nick Raneri as the starter following Raneri’s shoulder injury against Duxbury. After a pair of keepers, the freshman dropped back and heaved a ball down field. It avoided a group of Attleboro defenders and fell into the hands of Ryan Gaumond, who raced the rest of the way to the end zone for an 85-yard score that tied the game with just 59 seconds left in the third.

“That was the momentum changer no question,” said Johnson. “That was a pop-up thrown by the freshman but that’s pretty good that your first varsity pass is a touchdown on Thanksgiving. It doesn’t matter what it looks like.”

Attleboro coach Mike Strachan said, “The catch that Gaumond made in the wind, I think that turned the game for us. It really did and DeMattio gave them a spark.”

Attleboro’s next possession ended with a turnover. Brendan McHugh (nine carries, 38 yards) took advantage of a slip by Michael Strachan and picked off Weir’s pass to get the ball back at the Attleboro 30. Three keepers later and DeMattio slipped through the middle of the Bombardiers defense for a seven-yard score and the lead.

The game had turned around for the visitors in just three minutes.

“I’m proud of the way we played,” Strachan said, “we just got away from a few things, fundamentally, in the second half and I think DeMattio did a good job.”

The Bombardiers had a chance to tie the game. After a Strachan carry, Attleboro was as close as the North four-yard-line, but Duane Bryant got into the backfield and stuffed Cote for a six-yard loss on third down. On fourth and nine, Cote’s pass to Ethan Cameron was tipped aside by Bryan Engler.

“A couple turnovers down inside and we just can’t do that,” said Strachan. “I said turnovers would play a big part in this and ended up being a huge part of it in the end.”

North still needed a first down to seal the win. The Rocketeers got that and a lot more, as DeMattio broke through the middle and raced 90 yards for his third touchdown of the game and the cue for the Attleboro crowd to head to its cars.

“They were running Weir on the quarterback follows, so we had trouble with that, and Cote was doing a great job bouncing the powers outside and we weren’t getting good force,” said Johnson about the change North made defensively in the second half. It was mentioned that the defensive line, led by Kummer and Davenport division MVP Ryan Clemente, dominated after the break and Johnson responded, “They did, but I thought the secondary did a good job coming up and making plays in the run game.”

Attleboro was on its heels at the start of the game, as North drove into the wind all the way to the Bombardiers 10. On first and goal, the Rocketeers fumbled the hand-off and Raneri dove on the ball for a loss of two. Penta was stopped by a host of Bombardiers on second down, including Nick Evans, and gained only one. Isaac Guidel pressured Penta into an incomplete pass on third down and then the fourth down pass to McHugh was inches out of the back of the end zone.

“It was disappointing, I think it would’ve changed the complexion of the game,” said Johnson of the first drive. “But, give Attleboro credit, they played good defense and stopped us.”

The Bombardiers flipped the momentum by driving down field and taking the lead. Cote gained 18 yards on a third-down toss to the left and Weir broke free for 44 yards on a pair of keepers to get inside the North five. Cote punched it in from two yards out to make it 7-0.

The teams traded turnovers for the remainder of the half. Desmond Woodson recovered a fumble, but Attleboro went three-and-out to give it back. Then Cameron picked off a Penta pass, only for Engler to intercept a Weir pass inside the 10. Weir got the ball back with a fumble recovery just before halftime to keep the Bombardiers in the lead at the break.

North Attleboro closes the season at 8-3 and won its 61st game in the series, which had its 98th Thanksgiving Day installment on Thursday. Attleboro closes the season at 4-7.

Click here for a photo gallery from this game.

Friday’s Schedule & Scoreboard – 11/09/18


Today’s games are listed below.

Football – Playoffs
D2 South Final
Click here for a recap and photo gallery from this game.
#3 King Philip, 10 @ #1 Mansfield, 7 – Final
1st Quarter: (M) Aidan Sacco 16-yard rush, Michael DeBolt XP good.
2nd Quarter: (KP) Cole Baker 38-yard field goal.
3rd Quarter: No scoring.
4th Quarter: (KP) Robbie Jarest 1-yard rush, C. Baker XP good.

D5 South FinalClick here for a recap and photo gallery from this game.
#4 Canton, 0 @ #3 Scituate, 21 – Final
1st Quarter: (S) Will Sheskey 5-yard rush, Nolan Startzel XP good.
2nd Quarter: (S) Aidan Sullivan 63-yard pass to W. Sheskey, N. Startzel good.
3rd Quarter: No scoring.
4th Quarter: (S) A. Sullivan 1-yard rush, N. Startzel XP good.

Football – Non-Playoffs
Attleboro, 14 @ Bishop Feehan, 33 – Final
1st Quarter: (BF) Ryan Jones 50-yard rush, William Lynch XP good; (BF) R. Johnes 53-yard fumble return, W. Lynch XP good.
2nd Quarter: (A) Jason Weir 13-yard pass to Michael Strachan Jr., Colby Briggs XP good; (BF) R. Jones 60-yard rush, W. Lynch XP good.
3rd Quarter: (A) J. Weir 3-yard rush, C. Briggs XP good.
4th Quarter: (BF) R. Jones 71-yard rush, XP blocked; (BF) Tim D’Ambrosia 11-yard rush, XP blocked.

Foxboro, 21 @ Westwood, 0 – Final
1st Quarter: (F) Mike Luong 37-yard rush, Russell Neale XP good.
2nd Quarter: No scoring.
3rd Quarter: (F) Keyshawn Sanders 30-yard rush, R. Neale XP good.
4th Quarter: (F) Phil Thomas 4-yard rush, R. Neale XP good.

North Attleboro, 35 @ Walpole, 28 – Final
1st Quarter: (NA) Matt Penta 13-yard rush, Tyler DeMattio XP good; (W) Will Jarvis 12-yard pass to Andrew White, XP failed.
2nd Quarter: (NA) Ryan Boyle 15-yard rush, T. DeMattio XP good; (NA) Brendan McHugh 2-yard rush, T. DeMattio XP good; (W) W. Jarvis 2-yard pass to Chase Conrad, W. Jarvis 2pt pass to C. Conrad good.
3rd Quarter: (W) W. Jarvis 15-yard pass to Drew Von Klock, Harry Butters XP good; (NA) B. McHugh 1-yard rush, T. DeMattio XP good.
4th Quarter: (NA) Nick Raneri 3-yard rush, T. DeMattio XP good; (W) W. Jarvis 20-yard pass to A. White, H. Butters XP good.

Oliver Ames, 13 vs. Durfee, 7 – Final
1st Quarter: (OA) Nathan Cabral 10-yard rush, Cam Perron XP good. (D) Durfee 40-yrd rush, 2pt failed.
2nd Quarter: No scoring.
3rd Quarter: No scoring.
4th Quarter: (OA) N. Cabral 1-yard rush, 2pt failed.

Sharon, 40 @ Bellingham, 26 – Final

Stoughton, 6 @ Plymouth North, 16 – Final

Big Red Knocked Out in Defensive Struggle at Duxbury

North Attleboro football
North Attleboro junior Ethan Friberg dives for the pylon to score a late touchdown in the D3 South semifinal loss to Duxbury. (Josh Perry/HockomockSports.com)

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DUXBURY, Mass. – For the fourth straight year, perennial Div. 3 powers North Attleboro and Duxbury squared off in the playoffs. After the Rocketeers dominated the 2017 matchup, on their way to a Super Bowl appearance, the Dragons were out for revenge in the South semifinal on Friday night at Raymond Chandler Field.

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In a game between two strong programs that know each other well, the little things can be decisive. Duxbury converted two North Attleboro turnovers into 10 points, including the decisive touchdown with four minutes remaining, to pull out a 17-14 victory and advance to the sectional final.

North coach Don Johnson said, “When you get into these games against good teams, all it takes is a couple mistakes to swing it. They’re just too good to make those kind of mistakes against.”

The Dragons opened the game by spreading North out with multiple receivers and finding seams in the middle of the line for senior quarterback John Roberts (17 carries, 81 yards) and junior tailback Tim Landolfi (13 carries, 59 yards).

“Our guys were back on their heels a little bit because we were so concerned about the pass,” Johnson explained. “They throw the deep ball so well, so they kept picking us apart with some hitches in there. They get you in your nickel defense and then they can run the ball up inside on you.”

Duxbury moved the ball to the North 35, but on fourth down and inches Roberts’ pass to Will Prouty got caught in the wind and was knocked down by Ryan Gaumond.

North took advantage of the wind on its second play from scrimmage with senior Nick Raneri hitting Andy DeMattio on a wheel route down the North sideline for 38 yards. Raneri, who was also active at the start of the game in his middle linebacker position, then burst through the middle for 16 yards to the Duxbury nine-yard-line.

Three plays later, Brendan McHugh bullied his way in from five yards out for a 7-0 lead.

The lead was short-lived. Duxbury answered with a 11-play, 75-yard drive to tie the game early in the second quarter. Roberts (10-20, 126 yards) was 3-for-4 passing on the drive and also carried it four times, including the six-yard touchdown run.

North’s offense was dealt a blow at the end of the first when Raneri was forced to the sideline with a shoulder injury he sustained while making a tackle. Sophomore Matt Penta jumped in at quarterback, and got off to a good start with 26 yards rushing on his first two plays. The Rocketeers were forced to punt and got the ball back on a fumble recovery by Omar Jasseh but were forced to punt again.

Duxbury’s offense was also struggling and was forced into a three-and-out on a good play by Trevor Hewett and Ryan Clemente, who closed up the middle on a third down draw. The ensuing punt carried in the wind and Jared Penta was unable to pull it in. Duxbury recovered at the North 25.

The Dragons had to settle for a 26-yard Brett Souza field goal but went into halftime leading 10-7.

Raneri tried to come back in the second half and he split snaps with Matt Penta, but the North offense struggled to get any momentum. The defense came out of halftime determined to clog the middle of the line and put pressure on Roberts. Twice North forced a turnover on downs inside its own territory and Clemente was staring to assert himself at the line of scrimmage along with John Kummer.

“I think we did enough on defense to keep us in the game,” Johnson said. “Getting Nick banged up there, we kind of stalled on offense in the second half. We gave them the ball a few too many times because we just couldn’t move it on offense.”

When asked what the Dragons did to limit North’s production, Johnson replied, “They got everyone within five yards [of the line of scrimmage] and, you know, we’re limited in the passing game, so they can gang up on the run and outnumber you at the point of attack.”

With 7:34 left in the game, North took over at its own 38. Penta (6-15, 74 yards) tried to look downfield, but his pass was intercepted by Seamus Johnston. The Dragons made the turnover count thanks to a remarkable catch in the front corner of the end zone by Prouty, who somehow managed to snag possession while on his back after Gaumond got a piece of the throw.

The North bench was incensed because the Rocketeers believed Prouty had pushed off to deny Gaumond an interception.

Trailing by 10 points with 4:19 to play, North put together its best offensive series of the second half. Penta found Jasseh for 25 yards over the middle to the Duxbury 41. On third down and 10, Penta threw the ball away and was gifted 15 yards when Quinn Murphy hit him late. A 16-yard swing pass to McHugh and nine-yard keeper got the ball to the Duxbury 20.

A short pass got a first down but then a pass was dropped in the end zone, Prouty made a diving play to deny Jasseh a touchdown, and Penta was sacked back to the 26. Facing fourth and 18, the sophomore dropped back and threw a strike to Ethan Friberginside the five and junior dove to the pylon for the score.

“Penta is a promising sophomore,” Johnson said. “He’s got playmaker ability and he’s a tough kid. I thought he did a great job in the circumstances to get in there and give us a chance to win the ballgame.”

Tyler DeMattio made it 2-for-2 on extra point attempts to get North back within three, but his onside kick attempt was smothered by Duxbury to seal the win.

North Attleboro (6-3) heads into the non-playoff round next week.

Click here for a photo gallery from this game.

Friday’s Schedule & Scoreboard – 11/02/18


Today’s games are listed below.

Football – Playoffs
D1 South

#4 Franklin, 29 @ #1 Xaverian, 37 – Final (2 OT)

D2 South
#1 Mansfield, 28 vs. #5 Barnstable, 10 – FinalClick here for a recap and photo gallery of this game.
1st Quarter: (B) Matt Petercuskie 5-yard rush, Jonathan Silva XP good; (M) Michael DeBolt 2-yard rush, M. DeBolt XP good.
2nd Quarter: (B) J. Silva 25-yard field goal.
3rd Quarter: (M) Vinnie Holmes 21-yard rush, M. DeBolt XP good.
4th Quarter: (M) M. DeBolt 35-yard fumble return, M. DeBolt XP good; (M) M. DeBolt 3-yard rush, M. DeBolt XP good.

#3 King Philip, 17 @ #2 Natick, 7 – Final
1st Quarter: (KP) Ryan Halliday 5-yard rush, XP blocked.
2nd Quarter: (KP) R. Halliday 1-yard rush, R. Halliday 2-point conversion rush; (N) Will Lederman 21-yard pass to Max Ferrucci, XP good.
3rd Quarter: No scoring.
4th Quarter: (KP) Cole Baker 31-yard field goal.

D3 South
#4 North Attleboro, 14 @ #1 Duxbury, 17 – FinalClick here for a Recap and Photo Gallery from this game.
1st Quarter: (NA) Brendan McHugh 5-yard rush, Tyler DeMattio XP good.
2nd Quarter: (D) John Roberts 6-yard rush, Brett Souza XP good; (D) B. Souza 26-yard field goal.
3rd Quarter: No scoring.
4th Quarter: (D) J. Roberts 20-yard pass to Will Prouty, B. Souza XP godd; (NA) Matt Penta 26-yard pass to Ethan Friberg, T. DeMattio XP good.

D5 South
#4 Canton, 35 @ #1 Falmouth, 6 – Final
1st Quarter: (F) Kyle Connolly 3-yard rush, 2-point conversion failed; (C) Johnny Hagan 27-yard pass to Kyle Fitzgerald, Owen Lehane XP good.
2nd Quarter: (C) K. Fitzgerald 2-yard rush, O. Lehane XP good; (C) J. Hagan 39-yard rush, O. Lehane XP good; (C) K. Fitzgerald 39-yard rush, O. Lehane XP good.
3rd Quarter: No scoring.
4th Quarter: (C) K. Fitzgerald 27-yard rush, O. Lehane XP good.

Football – Non-Playoffs
Milford, 18 @ New Bedford, 32 – Final
Sharon, 0 @ Middleboro, 19 – Final

Girls Soccer
D2 South

#17 Canton, 3 @ #16 Silver Lake, 5 – Final

Rocketeers Edge King Philip in Season-Opening Thriller

North Attleboro football
North senior Brendan McHugh (29) scored a pair of touchdowns, including one with 1:33 left in the game to lift the Rocketeers to a 14-7 win.

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NORTH ATTLEBORO, Mass. – One team came into the game having won three straight league titles, making a Super Bowl appearance, and was inaugurating a new turf field, while the other team came in after back-to-back league and state titles and was riding a 25-game win streak. These were the two most successful programs in the Hockomock League over the last two seasons.

It was a game that was destined to come down to one play; to be decided by inches. That was exactly what happened.

Brendan McHugh broke a few tackles and tiptoed down the sideline to put North Attleboro in front for good with 1:33 remaining in the fourth quarter but King Philip drove inside the Rocketeers red zone and had two shots at the end zone before a last second pass was broken up at the goal line. North held on for the 14-7 victory to christen the newly-upgraded Raymond E. Beaupre Field and hand KP its first defeat since the penultimate game of 2015.

Click here for a photo gallery from this game.

“I have no idea what happened,” McHugh admitted when asked about the game-winning touchdown. “I was staring at the ground and I thought I was going to fall, but I just stayed on my feet and just got to the end zone. I was close but I wasn’t out of bounds.”

When asked what this win meant for the team, he replied, “My senior year, we wanted to get them and we got them. So much confidence, that’s a hell of a team, that defense is legit and we grinded out a win.”

It was a battle of attrition, which both coaches had expected coming into the game. Both defenses were in control and both offense were finding their feet with a number of new faces. In the end, both coaches saw the positive from facing tough competition to kick off a new season.

“They came to play today against a very, very good team,” said KP coach Brian Lee. He joked, “I don’t know why we thought of playing them instead of scheduling someone easy a long time ago, but the truth is we learned so much about our team tonight. Playing a team like that in these conditions, they grew up fast tonight.”

North coach Don Johnson added, “We had to earn it. We had to work hard and earn it on both sides of the football. I think it’s a good confidence booster for those guys who are playing in their first game tonight.”

North took the lead just before the end of the first quarter with an eight-play, 67-yard drive. Senior quarterback Nick Raneri got the Rocketeers going with a 34-yard keeper that moved the ball down to the KP 29. Three plays later, Raneri barely eked out two yards on fourth down to keep the drive alive. Two plays after that, McHugh took a jet sweep to the right side of the line and was untouched for a 16-yard score.

The Rocketeers scored with 19 seconds left in the first. The Warriors scored 19 seconds later. Junior tailback Ryan Halliday (22 carries, 181 yards) bounced back from a fumble on his first carry of the game, bursting through the left side of the line, keeping his feet despite a diving attempt at a tackle by Luke LaBonte, and racing 80 yards for the tying score.

Click here for a photo gallery from this game.

KP tried to keep the momentum going when senior corner Deric Casado made a highlight-reel, one-handed interception right in front of his bench, but the North defense was just as strong, forcing a three and out.

The game stayed tied coming out of halftime. KP started the half by continuing to put the ball into the hands of its new workhorse back, running Halliday into the North defensive line that was led by senior Ryan Clemente and junior Trevor Hewett.

North finally managed a long drive against the KP defense at the end of the third quarter with Raneri narrowly missing Ethan Friberg in the end zone after the junior got free down the seam.

“We felt pretty confident on that one and I think Raneri saw him so wide open that he just didn’t get enough on the football,” Johnson said of the missed opportunity. “He lofted it instead of just putting it on his hands and it seemed to take forever to come down.”

On the first play of the fourth quarter, freshman kicker Tyler DeMattio missed a 32-yard kick wide left and the game remained even.

KP’s next drive stalled at its own 46 after a holding call on third down. Cole Baker’s punt drove Ryan Gaumond back to his own 10, but the North senior scrapped for 24 yards on the return to give North at least a little cushion with which to start the drive.

After working a first down near midfield, North turned to McHugh (16 carries, 95 yards) again. The senior went for six yards to the right and then broke a sweep to the left for 14 yards down to the KP 33. After a timeout, McHugh took the ball around the left side in front of his own bench and the Warriors appeared to have him wrapped up only to stop thinking he had gone out of bounds. McHugh kept going, inches from the sideline for the go-ahead score.

“He’s that kind of guy,” Johnson said of McHugh. “He doesn’t even know he’s doing it half the time but he’s a threat to break anything at any time so there are times we say just give it to McHugh because he can create so much on his own.”

The Warriors took advantage of a new rule on the ensuing kickoff, calling a fair catch inside the 10 and automatically getting the ball at the 25. Junior Robbie Jarest rolled out to the far side and hit David Morganelli for 12 yards. Andy DeMattio nearly had a game-ending interception but could not hold on and the drive extended on a pass interference call on third down.

A 10-yard screen pass to Casado was followed by a 21-yard pass to Morganelli and suddenly KP was down to the North 17-yard-line with and the clock was stopped with eight seconds remaining. A false start backed KP up five yards, but Jarest just missed Morganelli in the back of the end zone on second down.

As the final horn sounded, the last gasp pass was picked off by Matt Penta at the goal line to seal the North win.

“I told them the second series is going to be better for you than the first and the third series will be better and the fourth and you settle down and confidence grows,” Lee said about what his team learned from that final drive regardless of whether or not it ended in a score. “They definitely believed they were going to win it at the end.”

North Attleboro (1-0) will be back on the Beaupre Field turf next week when it hosts rival Bishop Feehan. King Philip (0-1) will play another Davenport division team next Friday in its home opener, as Foxboro travels to Macktaz Field.

Click here for a photo gallery from this game.