You can add Duxbury to both lists.
The top-seeded red hot Rocketeers cruised to a D3 Sectional title, routing the second-seeded Dragons, 35-0, under the lights at Community Field.
It was the third straight year the programs met in the postseason, with Duxbury prevailing in the previous two contests including last year’s sectional final.
“We had a better feel for them this year I think, and the kids worked hard to get here,” said North Attleboro head coach Don Johnson. “This senior class, they’ve lived through it. They’ve lost to [Duxbury] the last two years, they put an end to our season. So our guys were determined to have a different ending this year.”
North Attleboro advances to the D3 State Semifinal and will play the D3 North sectional champion, which will be decided on Saturday afternoon between Lynn English and Tewksbury.
Big Red wasted little time imposing its will on the offensive side of the ball, taking the opening kickoff and marching 55 yards on 12 plays — all rushing plays — to take an early lead. Brendan McHugh (10 carries, 47 yards, two touchdowns) took his fifth carry of the drive in from three yards out and Geoff Wilson’s extra point put North up 7-0 with 4:04 left in the first quarter.
“I think the offense did a great job,” Johnson said. “We’ve thrown the ball a lot this year, Chad Peterson is a great quarterback. But we felt like we could move the ball against them [on the ground] and to beat them we felt like we had to have good balance. I think establishing that run game early made the difference.”
Duxbury’s offense — which averaged 30 points per game coming into the contest — looked like it was primed to respond, possibly setting up a shootout between the two sides. But after moving into North territory, the Dragons saw what could have been a touchdown dropped over the middle, and then a fourth down passing attempt ruled incomplete on the sidelines.
After focusing on the run on its first drive, North shifted to its pass game as Chad Peterson (6-for-7, 98 yards, touchdown) hit Mario Bresko deep for a 46-yard gain on the second play of the drive. Two plays later, Peterson hit Jonathan James in the flat and the junior charged his way in for an 11-yard score and a 14-0 lead with 13 seconds left in the first quarter.
“I thought we came out on offense and executed well, our defense played great too,” Peterson said. “I thought we executed in all facets of the game tonight.”
Once again, Duxbury’s offense moved the ball, this time with a 53-yard drive to get into the red zone. But on the 15th play of the drive, Dragons quarterback John Roberts attempted to throw into the end zone, but Bresko stepped in front of the receiver for the interception and touchback.
Between lengthy drives, North’s third drive of the game stalled in enemy territory and had to punt just as time expired in the first half.
North’s defense had one of its biggest stops of the game to open the second half, forcing the Dragons to go three and out and get the ball back.
The offense didn’t skip a beat though, rattling off its second-longest drive of the game to begin the second half. Peterson completed passes to Bresko and Devin Slaney on the drive and converted a third down with his legs. McHugh converted a fourth and short down, and three plays later, got into the end zone on a second effort to make it 21-0.
“That’s all we talked about at halftime,” Johnson said, “We knew we had to kick to them so we needed our kickoff team to do a good job and then we needed our defense to get the ball back in the hands of our offense, and they did it.”
“We had excellent field position all night, the kickoff team did a good job pinning them deep,” Peterson said. “When you know you have a defense like ours, it takes a lot of pressure off of the offense.”
As if that sequence – a quick three and out from Duxbury and lengthy touchdown drive from North – didn’t put North in complete control, the next sequence did.
On the first play of Duxbury’s ensuing drive, Roberts dropped back to pass in shotgun and fired a quick pass to his left, but North Attleboro senior linebacker Zach DeMattio stepped right in front and galloped his way for an 18-yard interception return.
“Coach Johnson has been talking all week about how us linebackers have been struggling against the past the last couple of weeks so we really had to insert ourselves into the pass coverage,” DeMattio said. “We knew that play was coming so I just turned open and he threw it and I took it.
“We’ve had the last two years in our memories, them beating us at our place two years ago, and then beating as at their place last year. We had our game plan coming in, we knew what we had to do and we just executed on both sides of the ball.”
Duxbury picked a first down on its next drive, but then went four straight plays without positive yardage and turned it over on downs.
“When you get to this point, you better be good on both sides of the ball,” Johnson said. “I was happy to see our defense step up there a couple of times.”
On the first play of the fourth quarter, Nick Raneri took over at quarterback, used an option play and raced his way up the middle for an 18-yard touchdown and a 35-0 lead.
Duxbury once again turned it over on downs and North Attleboro’s reserves, led by Luke Labonte (five carries, 33 yards), ran the rest of the clock off.
“I’m happy for them,” Johnson said. “We’ve had so many teams over the years that have been so close. Sometimes its just a matter of matchups. You run up against a really good team, it might not work out for you that year. So I’m really happy for these kids.”
North Attleboro football (9-1) will find out its opponent for the D3 State Semifinal on Saturday. Lynn English and Tewksbury kickoff at 2:00PM.
That makes North Attleboro’s dominant 35-12 win over Stoughton in the D3 South Semifinals that much more impressive.
Big Red’s defense limited Stoughton’s starting unit to under 100 yards of total offense, and its offensive unit took advantage of strong field position to advance to the sectional final for the second straight year.
Four of North Attleboro’s five touchdown drives required five plays or less, all four of them under 50 yards. Only one drive – the third scoring drive of the game at the end of the first half – was a lengthy possession (seven plays, 65 yards).
“I think this team has really matured as the year has gone on and really developed that business-like attitude,” said North Attleboro head coach Don Johnson. “You get to this point in the year, and you know what you’re supposed to do…you just have to go out and do it. It’s a sign of maturity.”
It wasn’t an ideal start for the Rocketeers, who were forced into an early punt that was blocked by Stoughton’s Jason Joseph and recovered by David Bell. That set Stoughton up at the North Attleboro 20-yard line.
But North Attleboro’s defense stood tall with senior Geoff Wilson sacking Stoughton quarterback Johnny Medina on third down. Medina’s throw into the end zone on fourth fell incomplete and North escaped unscathed.
Stoughton’s defense did its part again, forcing another punt from North but this time the Rocketeers had a big break. Devin Slaney’s long kick got a kind roll and Stoughton’s returner wasn’t able to cleanly field it, allowing North junior Cam Cornetta to pounce and give the Rocketeers the ball at Stoughton’s 10-yard line.
Big Red took advantage of their opportunity and senior quarterback Chad Peterson (5/9, 68 yards – seven carries, 33 yards, three touchdowns) used an option play to keep it himself and run it in from five yards out. North led 7-0 after Wilson’s extra point with 3:05 left in the quarter.
“Sometimes it takes a bad play to kind of spark the team, offense or defense either one,” Johnson said of the blocked punt. “And I think that’s exactly what happened there.
“It felt like on that turnover [muffed punt], the game started over at the point.”
Slaney’s deep kickoff forced Stoughton to start inside its own 20-yard line. And North’s defense did its part, forcing losses on both first and second down. After a punt, North started at the Stoughton 45-yard line.
Peterson hit Nick Raneri for 11 yards then ran for eight yards with a late hit tacked on. Two plays later, North faked the jet sweep and Peterson kept it himself, going in from three yards out and a 14-0 lead with 10:20 to play in the second.
Ryan Gaumond put a halt to Stoughton’s next drive with an interception but the Black Knights’ defense allowed just one yard on North’s ensuing drive and got the ball back with a punt.
Junior Evan Gibb, who was hurt in the first meeting between the two teams and missed the past two weeks, took over under center to start the second quarter. On Stoughton’s next drive, he rushed for eight yards, then hit Alex Iverson for a 19-yard gain and a first down.
Two plays later, Gibb hit Ruben Gonzalez on a hitch route and the senior slipped through a tackle and attempt and raced 41-yards for a touchdown, bringing Stoughton within 14-6 with 3:47 left in the first half.
But that was enough time for North to orchestrate its longest drive of the game. Back-to-back passes from Peterson toMario Bresko moved the chains, and two plays later Peterson hit Raneri out in the flat and he raced 29-yards.
Two plays later, Nathan Pearce (eight carries, 53 yards) followed a great block up the middle and burst his way through two Stoughton defenders at the goal line for a 16-yard touchdown and a 21-6 lead with 90 seconds left in the first half.
Pearce led the Warriors in carries and rushing yards. With Stoughton’s defense bottling Raneri up, and Brendan McHugh without a carry, Pearce provided a spark for the Rocketeers.
“Pearce is kind of a combination of those others [Raneri and McHugh],” Johnson said. “You get to this time of year and guys are getting banged up. Pearce has come along – he was banged up early of the year – so he’s really given us that extra depth we were lacking at the beginning of the year.”
Stoughton got the ball to start the second half but another nice kick from Slaney, plus a block in the back, forced the Black Knights to start from their own six-yard line. After gains on first and second down, Wilson and Pearce combined for the sack on third down and the Black Knights had to punt from their own end zone.
“When you prepare for [Stoughton], you really have to prepare for two offenses,” Johnson said. They run the Wing-T offense so well, and then [Jeff Grier] was in there who didn’t play last time, and he’s a legitimate threat because of his speed. So you have to prepare for that and then they go with the spread offense and throw the ball. And Gibb’s a tough kid when he’s in there. So there’s a lot of things you have to prepare for so I was pretty happy with the defensive effort.”
That meant good field position for Big Red once again, starting at the Stoughton 28-yard line. Pearce had three carries for a total of 26 yards, and Peterson capped the drive with a two-yard plunge on fourth down with 6:10 to play.
North’s defense again held court and even though Stoughton got off a strong punt, Gaumond had a 33-yard return and North started at the Black Knights’ 17-yard line.
With Raneri at quarterback, he ran for 10 yards on first down, and then McHugh burst around the edge for a seven-yard touchdown on his first carry. North led 35-6 with 3:10 left, spelling the end of playing time for its starters on both sides.
“We couldn’t get the field position, we couldn’t move the ball…and they sort of stuck it to us,” said Stoughton head coach Greg Burke. “We have to be able to keep it close so we can run the ball. We got plenty of yards the last time, this time they did a couple of different things.
“Hats off to [North Attleboro], that’s a good team. I think they can win this sectional.”
Stoughton’s Justin Ly scored on an 11-yard run with 8:56 to play to cap the scoring.
With the win, the Rocketeers get a rematch with Duxbury in the sectional finals. It’s the third straight year that Big Red has faced off with the Dragons, with the latter coming away with wins both times.
“It’s always great to get an opportunity to go back and play someone you lost to,” Johnson said. “We’ve lost to them in the playoffs the past two years so it’s an opportunity to get another shot at them. They’ve sent us packing so its time to do something about that.”
The game is scheduled for Friday night, November 10th at Community Field at 7:00.
By HockomockSports.com Staff
The Hockomock League held its annual cross-country championships on Saturday morning at the Wrentham Development Center. Below are Hockomock cross-country championship team and individual results.
1. Mansfield – 41
2. Franklin – 59
T3. Oliver Ames – 128
T3. King Philip – 128
5. Milford – 147
6. Sharon – 160
7. Attleboro – 175
8. Taunton – 191
9. North Attleboro – 207
10. Canton – 233
11. Stoughton – 351
12. Foxboro – 355
1. Kalin Petrov, Mansfield – 15:51.77
2. Tyler Brogan, Franklin – 15:58.82
3. Michael Griffin, King Philip – 16:07.51
4. Jack Kalil, Milford – 16:12.33
5. Kevin Crawford, Mansfield – 16:22.24
6. Jason Windvogel, Oliver Ames – 16:25.99
7. Alexander Boedeker, Attleboro – 16:29.76
8. Paul Linehan, Franklin – 16:32.67
9. Patrick Heavey, Mansfield – 16:35.79
10. Michael Norberg, King Philip – 16:44.92
11. Collin Rice, Mansfield – 16:50.18
12. Liam Monahan, North Attleboro – 16:52.45
13. Mitchell Regan, Franklin – 16:53.68
14. Dylan Kehoe, Franklin – 16:55.07
15. Paxton Howard, Mansfield – 16:55.46
16. Hayden Goldsmith, Franklin – 17:01.05
17. Anthony DiStauro, Milford – 17:01.83
18. Zane Reservitz, Oliver Ames – 17:04.51
19. Camden Harrington, Franklin – 17:04.82
20. Cullen Lancaster, Mansfield – 17:13.19
21. Jared Osofsky, Sharon – 17:14.27
22. Colin Messenger, Canton – 17:18.95
23. Nolan Tavares, Taunton – 17:19.67
24. Jack Healey, Canton – 17:20.62
25. Ty Cali, Taunton – 17:22.20
26. Ryan Goldman, Franklin – 17:24.74
27. Michael Hagan, Franklin – 17:27.70
28. Grant Fawcett, Sharon – 17:30.44
29. Nate Reservitz, Oliver Ames – 17:31.28
30. Daniel Barrow, Franklin – 17:33.82
31. Alex Hagen, King Philip – 17:40.55
32. Julian Dixon, North Attleboro – 17:43.32
33. Max Manor, Milford – 17:43.40
34. Alexander Starovoytov, Sharon – 17:49.37
35. Jacob Dubin, Sharon – 17:50.36
36. Peter Sullivan, Mansfield – 17:52.61
37. Colin Quinlan, Taunton – 17:54.01
38. Eric DeLorenzo, King Philip – 17:55.40
39. Alexander Foote, Oliver Ames – 17:55.96
40. Mathew Reilly, Attleboro – 17:57.37
41. Zachary Bellido, Oliver Ames – 17:59.84
42. Luis Oliva, Attleboro – 18:01.02
43. Brendan O’Shaughnessy, Milford – 18:01.45
44. Owen Nipoti, Oliver Ames – 18:02.33
45. Eric McQuiggan, Mansfield – 18:03.02
46. Kevin Osowski, Oliver Ames – 18:03.58
47. Nick Raffa, Attleboro – 18:03.75
48. Alex Maddestra, Canton – 18:05.93
49. Nathan Seybert, Attleboro – 18:07.57
50. Jordan Saks, Sharon – 18:09.17
51. Cameron Parker, Taunton – 18:09.93
52. Tom Flood, North Attleboro – 18:10.52
53. Robert MacInnis, Oliver Ames – 18:11.55
54. Matthew Andrews, King Philip – 18:12.12
55. Matthews Willis, Attleboro – 18:14.99
56. Samuel Page, King Philip – 18.16.06
57. Trey Lawson, Foxboro – 18:16.63
58. Gianni Panno, Milford – 18:18.18
59. Joshua Smith, King Philip – 18:18.44
60. Joey Looney, Oliver Ames – 18:18.60
61. Nicholas Carey, Milford – 18:24.20
62. Justin Miller, Mansfield – 18:26.98
63. Nate Farkash, King Philip – 18:27.76
64. Prem Malkan, North Attleboro – 18:28.36
65. Daniel Becker, Attleboro – 18:32.18
66. Dan Botte, King Philip – 18:33.59
67. Jack Clarke, North Attleboro – 18:34.11
68. Jason Feierstein, Attleboro – 18:35.64
69. Michael Maher, Attelboro – 18:36.74
70. Lucas DeSousa, Taunton – 18:36.98
71. David Fiedorczyk, Oliver Ames – 18:38.32
72. Matthew Shumway, Franklin – 18:41.21
73. Will Eckhart, Stoughton – 18:44.08
74. Ben Thibeault, Manfield – 18:46.08
75. Skyler Poirier, North Attleboro – 18:46.34
76. Daniel Nobrega, North Attleboro – 18:49.31
77. John Greene, Stoughton – 18:57.02
78. Steven Westgate, Taunton – 19:00.84
79. Dylan Weir, North Attleboro – 19:01.02
80. Ben Allaire, Sharon – 19:03.48
81. Timothy Liu, Sharon – 19:04.94
82. Andrew Salvatori, Canton – 19:07.12
83. Noah Wieland, Sharon – 19:07.38
84. Ryan Kelley, Milford – 19:07.96
85. Timothy Gallerani, Taunton – 19:11.55
86. Tieqi Sun, Sharon – 19:13.01
87. Ryan Connor, King Philip – 19:14.18
88. Evan Connor, Stoughton – 19:14.81
89. Paxton Downs, Foxboro – 19:17.57
90. Kanishka Sethi, Sharon – 19:18.61
91. Patrick Piscitelli, Foxboro – 19:19.62
92. Jack Hernon, Canton – 19:24.28
93. William Bradley, North Attleboro – 19:25.04
94. Isaac Walker, Stoughton – 19:35.03
95. Sawyer Julier-Albert, Canton – 19:39.58
96 Brendan McCormick, Attleboro – 19:40.50
97. Chris Rota, Canton – 19:41.72
98. Thomas Cahill, Canton – 19:47.48
99. Matt Floyd, Canton – 19:48.01
100. Nate Palter, Foxboro – 19:55.30
101. Jake Parkman, Foxboro – 19:59.69
102. Joseph Bagarella, North Attleboro – 20:03.10
103. Matthew Letourneau, Taunton – 20:08.40
104. Ethan Freedman, Stoughton – 20:20.73
105. Max Dunderdale, Taunton – 20:22.81
106. Kyle Wanless, Canton – 20:32.41
107. Tommy Bui, Stoughton – 20:51.77
108. Michael Veliotis, Stoughton – 20:53.63
109. Colin Whippen, Canton – 21:09.44
110. Joshua McNamara, Stoughton – 21:11.80
111. Cam DiRosa, Stoughton – 21:14.86
112. Joseph Anderson, Foxboro – 21:20.38
113. Marcos Amado, Stoughton – 21:33.06
1. Franklin – 54
2. Attleboro – 85
3. Oliver Ames – 94
4. North Attleboro – 129
5. Taunton – 158
6. Foxboro – 159
7. Sharon – 161
8. King Philip – 175
9. Mansfield – 178
10. Canton – 272
11. Milford – 302
1. Abby Hassman, Foxboro – 19:03.22
2. Katherine Hartnett, Franklin – 19:27.48
3. Nicole Clermont, Franklin – 19:37.57
4. Elizabeth Peckham, Oliver Ames – 19:40.62
5. Angela Kaiser, North Attleboro – 19:54.69
6. Erin Quinn, King Philip – 20:00.53
7. Lindsey Nelson, Foxboro – 20:26.43
8. Shea Jamieson, Attleboro – 20:32.68
9. Stephanie Hawkins, North Attleboro – 20:33.26
10. Margaret Riley, Mansfield – 20:38.56
11. Nia Mainer-Smith, Taunton – 20:41.50
12. Katrina Walbert, Franklin – 20:42.74
13. Lily Valcovic, Taunton – 20:46.53
14. Madeline Peckham, Oliver Ames – 20:51.22
15. Jamyang Lhadon, Attleboro – 20:57.53
16. Luisa Oliva, Attleboro – 20:57.61
17. Sydney Hawkins, Franklin – 21:04.43
18. Kelly Neuendorf, Attleboro – 21:06.99
19. Megan Leary, North Attleboro – 21:09.08
20. Brianna Cummings, Franklin – 21:10.21
21. Anna Morrison, Sharon – 21:14.48
22. Olivia Timbone, Oliver Ames – 21:16.71
23. Jenna Moyle, Canton – 21:19.16
24. Maria Gieg, Sharon – 21:20.30
25. Sydnee Hyacinthe, Stoughton – 21:21.48
26. Chloe Kikelly, Oliver Ames – 21:25.24
27. Brandi Osborne, Franklin – 21:31.18
28. Nina Sitarski, King Philip – 21:32.11
29. Mackenzie Wildrick, Attleboro – 21:32.42
30. Catherine O’Donnell, Oliver Ames – 21:35.81
31. Eliana Boxerman, Sharon – 21:37.53
32. Juliana Dudziak, Sharon – 21:39.79
33. Charis MacCuish, Oliver Ames – 21:40.41
34. Isabelle Crocker, King Philip – 21:47.42
35. Ella Gutkowski, Franklin – 21:47.83
36. Diana Blouin, Attleboro – 21:48.48
37. Meghan Reardon, Oliver Ames – 21:50.08
38. Julai DiGiacomo, Franklin – 21:50.92
39. Nicole Yeomans, Foxboro – 21:51.90
40. Sarah Doyle, Mansfield – 21:52.66
41. Mary Viera, Franklin – 21:55.30
42. Sara Comisky, Milford – 21:59.16
43. Kailey Melito-Santos, Taunton – 21:59.33
44. Julia Sarro, Oliver Ames – 22:01.62
45. Emma Lamson, Mansfield – 22:06.19
46. Nicol Pnney, Mansfield – 22:10.41
47. Emily Steele, Foxboro – 22:15.04
48. Ellen Marshall, Attleboro – 22:16.60
49. Kaicey Melito-Santos, Taunton – 22:16.92
50. Emily Manning, North Attleboro – 22:18.52
51. Valaree Buonora, Mansfield – 22:18.63
52. Jessica Alestock, Mansfield – 22:18.68
53. Tatyana Mainer-Smith, Taunton – 22:20.39
54. Jordan Willis, North Attleboro – 22:21.56
55. Alexis Marcolini, Milford – 22:23.47
56. Lilia Angelone, King Philip – 22:24.94
57. Olivia Forbes, North Attleboro – 22:28.67
58. Catherine Hanewich, North Attleboro – 22:31.14
59. Catherine Griffin, Sharon – 22:31.62
60. James Polsgrove, Canton – 22:33.41
61. Kate Duffy, Oliver Ames – 22:34.76
62. Leia Quinn, King Philip – 22:36.85
63. Kavya Anbarasu, Sharon – 22:39.45
64. Olivia Weber, Taunton – 22:40.25
65. Kaleigh Walsh, Oliver Ames – 22:42.19
66. Abigail Dunne, King Philip – 22:42.84
67. Chloe Pennacchio, Canton – 22:44.86
68. Margaret Li, Sharon – 22:46.04
69. Jamie Kessler, Sharon – 22:49.04
70. Dayna Aubin, King Philip – 22:51.34
71. Briana Aronne, Attleboro – 22:52.79
72. Kimiya Kim, Franklin – 22:55.07
73. Emma Cunningham, Canton – 22:56.09
74. Ziqin Wong, Taunton – 23:23.44
75. Jaycee Duarte, Taunton – 23:27.61
76. Emily Penta, Mansfield – 23:29.27
77. Kaitlyn Ward, King Philip – 23:37.21
78. Abigail O’Brien, Mansfield – 23:40.09
79. Julia Franey, Stoughton – 23:41.91
80. Katie Manning, Milford – 23:43.05
81. Madison Bettencourt, Taunton – 23:45.09
82. Paige Williams, North Attleboro – 23:50.10
83. Meredith Cowan, Mansfield – 23:52.47
84. Allison Chin, Canton – 23:54.78
85. Maggie Dunn, Canton – 24:15.47
86. Theresa Billo, Stoughton – 24:17.71
87. Kayla Wong, Canton – 24:17.80
88. Alexandra Welch, King Philip – 24:18.21
89. Jill Finn, Foxboro – 24:20.89
90. Jenna Berg, Attleboro – 24:20.89
91. Katherina Donahue, Milford – 24:29.08
92. Catherine Cummings, King Philip – 24:37.40
93. Kate Kelleher, Canton – 24:48.60
94. Lillian Thibeault, Milford – 24:50.32
95. Isabel Hallal, Foxboro – 24:53.88
96. Alexa Lancisi, Milford – 24:58.44
97. Erica Boone, Canton – 25:02.89
98. Amelia Lopez, Attleboro – 25:10.13
99. Katie Ovoian, North Attleboro – 25:32.87
100. Emilia BonTempo, Milford – 25:42.69
101. Deepti Murthy, Sharon – 25:52.16
102. Brianna Bagdasian, Taunton – 25:55.19
103. Emily Bubencik, Foxboro – 26:03.80
NORTH ATTLEBORO, Mass. – After a slow start to the game, North Attleboro put the ball in the hands of senior quarterback Chad Peterson and the Amherst College-commit came through with four touchdowns, two through the air in the first half and two more on the ground in the second, to lead the Rocketeers to a 28-14 first round win against Walpole.
North was able to survive and advance, despite the defense allowing more than 200 passing yards against Walpole’s spread formation, including 163 receiving yards (on 11 receptions) by wideout Chase Conrad.
“We knew they could throw the ball, so defensively we wanted to put pressure on the quarterback, which I thought we did a decent job of earlier but then they did a good job picking the pressure and we didn’t do a particularly good job covering the guys behind it,” said North Attleboro coach Don Johnson. “So, that kept them in the game.”
The North defense showed its ability to get pressure straight up the middle on the first Walpole series when Ryan Clemente dislodged the ball from Rebels running back Drew Van klock, hitting him just as he received the ball.
North returned the favor with a fumble five plays later but again the defense kept the pressure up on Walpole senior quarterback Brett Lavanchy (17-32, 223 yards). Geoff Wilson, Sam Bullock, and Zach DeMattio all forced Lavanchy into rushed throws and Wilson’s sack led to a Rebels punt.
North took over on its own 15-yard-line and proceeded to put together a 12-play, 85-yard drive to open the scoring. Nathan Pearce (11 carries, 96 yards) got the drive going with a 28-yard jet sweep to the far sideline and North kept advancing into the red zone until Peterson was sacked to force a third and 18. Peterson hit Pearce on an eight-yard screen and, on fourth and 10, found Ryan Gaumond on the near sideline for 16 and a first down.
Two plays later, Peterson bought time and found Nolan Buckley open in the back of the end zone for an eight-yard touchdown.
Walpole responded quickly. Conrad returned the kick to the Walpole 45 and it took the Rebels only six plays to get on the board. DeMattio and Adam Eberle combined on a sack to force third and 13 from the North 47, but Walpole caught the Rocketeers in an all-out blitz. Lavanchy’s screen pass found Conrad in space and he took it the distance.
A missed extra point kept North in the lead, but the Rocketeers failed to take advantage on the next drive, turning it over on downs at the Walpole 16.
“Walpole played tough,” said Johnson. “I thought they did a great job on defense and worked hard to make us earn it.”
He added, “We thought we’d be able to move the ball on the ground, but I thought they played really well on defense in the first half. They did some different things that we hadn’t seen on the film. They jumped into a 50 double eagle look there and we hadn’t seen them do that all year long.”
Jonathan James and Bullock combined on a sack to end Walpole’s drive and get the ball back for North with just 51 seconds remaining in the half. The Rocketeers took over at the 50 and Peterson proceeded to march the hosts down field, needing just five plays to add a big score before the break. All three completions on the drive went to Devin Slaney, including the 26-yard touchdown.
The Rocketeers got the ball back to start the third quarter and promptly extended the lead. Pearce broke a 31-yard run to get the ball into Walpole territory. Peterson would take it the final 16 yards on a pair of carries to make it 21-6.
“I thought that was key, coming out get that first drive and score in the second half,” said Johnson. “I thought that was a big momentum swing there.”
He continued, “I never felt like we were out of control, but I just never felt like we could finish things. It just took a while for us tonight.”
Walpole’s ability to move the ball through the air meant that the game was far from over and the Rebels immediately responded to cut the lead back to one score. Conrad had another big return to get the ball near midfield. A 26-yard catch moved the drive inside the North 30 and then it was finished with a 16-yard catch in the back corner. Lavanchy and Conrad connected on the conversion as well.
“At halftime, they definitely went in there to pick up the middle blitz,” said DeMattio, “so we tried coming off the edge to try and stop the sprint out.”
After a North punt, the Rebels were on the move again, getting the ball inside the Rocketeers’ 10. Lavanchy was forced to throw a pass away on first and goal then was stuffed for a four-yard loss on a keeper by Jason McNeany and Marc Burns. On third and goal, Clemente got loose in the backfield for North’s fifth sack of the game. With Gaumond in coverage, the fourth down pass went out the back of the end zone.
North took over on its own 17. The Rocketeers put together a 13-play, 83-yard drive that put the game away. While the bulk of the drive consisted of runs by Peterson (13 carries, 88 yards), Pearce, and Nick Raneri (13 carries, 54 yards), there were also two big completions from Peterson to Gaumond on the far sideline. Peterson capped the possession with a seven-yard keeper to seal the win.
“It was a tough first game, but it was fun,” said DeMattio. “You can definitely see a lot more people coming out, bigger crowds, lot more intense.”
When asked about the prospect of hosting league rival Stoughton next week, DeMattio added, “They’re definitely a run-heavy team, so it will be good for them to come back to Community Field and get a good game for everyone.”
Johnson said of what was at the time only a potential rematch with Stoughton, “I don’t like playing anybody a second time. They get to know all your secrets.”