The Tigers had their best offensive outing in three seasons, scoring six touchdowns plus a field goal to grab a 45-20 win in the Tiger Bowl over Oliver Ames in a non-league crossover clash.
After a close loss to King Philip two weeks ago and a setback to Franklin last week in a game that was closer than the scoreline indicated,
Taunton got back into the win column for the fourth time this season.
“Offensively we knew we’d have the chance to score some points and we did a good job there,” said Taunton head coach Brad Sidwell. “I’m proud of our guys, we haven’t scored that many points in a while.”
Taunton picked up points on its first three drives — a field goal followed by two touchdowns — which all came in the opening quarter of the game. The host Tigers scored inside the final two minutes of the first half and less than two minutes into the second half and added two more in the third quarter to get the win.
The defense set the tone by forcing Oliver Ames into a three-and-out on the first series of the game. OA punted on each of its first three drives, had two series end on turnovers, and one turnover on downs.
A high snap slowed Taunton’s first drive of the game and the hosts settled for a 31-yard field goal off the right foot of senior Nate Keenan.
The offense didn’t need much time on its second drive to find the end zone. After Evan Perrotta (13 carries, 56 yards) moved the chains with a 10-yard run on first down, junior quarterback Jacob Leonard found Trent Santos in single coverage down the right sideline. Leonard dropped the pass into Santos’ hands in stride and the senior, who missed last week due to injury, did the rest for a 61-yard touchdown.
OA couldn’t get anything going offensively on its third series, partly due to a tackle for a loss from Ryan MacDougall, and the visiting Tigers had to punt, pinning Taunton inside its own 20-yard line.
The long field didn’t phase Taunton, who scored on its first play of the drive. Leonard dropped back and hit Perrotta on a screen. The senior back squirmed through the defense up the middle but OA kept with the play and forced a fumble. But before any OA player could pounce on the loose ball, Taunton senior tightend Faisal Mass scooped up the loose ball and raced his way to the end zone from 54 yards out.
Just like that,
Taunton held a 17-0 lead before the end of the first quarter.
“We have to come out better,” said OA head coach Ed DeWitt. “I don’t think it’s an X’s and O’s, I think they are blocking their stuff right…we just came out flat tonight. There wasn’t enough emotion…and when something goes wrong, we have to fight back.”
Oliver Ames put together a much-needed response that took nearly six minutes of the clock. Senior quarterback Jake Grimaldi connected with classmate Sean Friel, who fought for some extra yards to move the sticks with a 24-yard gain. Junior running back Collin Williamson (15 carries, 142 yards, 2 TD) broke free for 21 yards on the next play and then converted a third down inside the red zone three plays later. After that, Williamson took the handoff to the left and found his way into the end zone to make it 17-7.
“Collin’s great, he runs hard,” DeWitt said. “Sometimes it takes us a little bit to figure out where his seam is but when we do, he hits it and when he gets through, he’s a hard tackle and finishes runs for us. He’s been doing it all year for us.
OA’s defense held Taunton to just four yards on its next series, getting good coverage from junior Jordan Young on second down to help get the ball back. OA started to move the ball on its next drive but Nathen LaPlante had a big tackle for loss, OA was hit with a holding call, and Taunton sophomore Troy Santos intercepted a third down pass near midfield, taking it all the way to the OA 25-yard line with just 3:31 left in the half.
Taunton kept it on the ground for this series, handing it off to Perrotta four consecutive plays, the last for a 2-yard touchdown and a 24-7 lead going into halftime.
OA took a chance to start the second half, going for an onside kick on the opening kickoff. The visiting Tigers got the blocks they wanted but the ball bounced out and Taunton took over with good field position. The hosts took advantage of that field position, needing just three plays to add to its lead.
Leonard hit Perrotta with a swing pass out in the flat that went for 28 yards and then the Perrotta took back-to-back handoffs, the latter going for a 4-yard touchdown and a 31-7 lead with 10:20 left in the third.
“We haven’t finished the last two weeks so the whole thing this week was about finishing, and we did which was good to see,” Sidwell said.”With the new playoff system, you’re winning a game and you’re trying to keep that certain lead, keep it at the max. You’re not being unsportsmanlike, you’re trying to do the math figuring out the difference.”
It didn’t take long for Oliver Ames to respond. On just the second play of the ensuing drive, Robert Jenkins (68 receiving yards, 87 rushing yards) took a counter to the left before cutting up the field and through the difference, running away for a 77-yard touchdown with 9:13 to play in the third.
Chad Silva recorded a tackle for loss on second down and junior defensive end Chris Young made a nice play by getting his hands up to bat down a third down pass at the line, forcing Taunton to punt. Grimaldi hit Jenkins for 22 yards and a first down and Williamson gained five on the next play but Troy Santos read the play nicely on the next play, undercutting the pass for his second interception of the game.
Facing 3rd and 11, Leonard hit sophomore Jose Touron on a comeback route on the right side and he was able to break free from the defense and took off for 62 yards, tackled at the 1-yard line. Keenan burst up the middle and into the end zone for a touchdown and Taunton pushed the lead to 38-14 with 3:58 left in the third.
OA’s offense had another response to keep within striking distance. Williamson broke out for 35 yards on first down and Grimaldi kept it on a QB sneak four plays later to convert a fourth and short. Two plays later, Williamson bounced it outside to the right and used his speed to sprint away from the defense for a 34-yard touchdown. That cut the deficit to 38-20 with just 10 seconds left in the third.
“We fought a bit, tried the onside kicks to get back into it but there were some positives we can take from the second half,” DeWitt said.”We felt like we really came out flat in the first half, not much to build on. We put our knee down on the opening kickoff and then had a false start on the first play…and it spirals from there.
“When we got it to 17-7, we have to hammer down there and keep that score going into the half. We just have to come out strong and playing within the aspect of the game, managing the game a bit better.”
Taunton recovered the ensuing onside kick and march 55 yards on 7 plays to add another touchdown. Leonard hit Santos early in the drive to move the sticks and Keenan had a 21-yard gain on third down to keep the drive alive. Touron took the sweep to the right and Santos blocked the corner to allow the ball carrier to get into the end zone for a 7-yard touchdown and a 45-20 lead with 9:21 to play.
“Our offense did a good job moving the ball but we have to establish the run game a little bit more, especially when you’re having a little trouble stopping the run. But I’m proud of the way our guys played. We’re trying to get healthy and better for the remainder of the season. The gauntlet of the Kelley-Rex [division] is really hard.”
Both teams have a tough schedule as they head into the final two weeks of division play. Taunton football (0-2 Kelley-Rex, 4-2 overall) hits the road to take on Mansfield while Oliver Ames (1-1 Davenport, 2-4 overall) returns home to host North Attleboro.
SOUTH EASTON, Mass. – Sometimes it takes just one moment to separate two good teams. On Wednesday night at Muscato Stadium, the moment came right before halftime when Oliver Ames senior Camryn O’Connor burst out of midfield and crossed to junior Jenna Gilman at the back post. Making her first start of the season up top, Gilman made no mistake from a few yards out to put the Tigers back in front.
OA was able to hold onto its halftime lead, beating Mansfield 2-1 in a game that had the proper intensity for two teams fighting for first place in their respective divisions, battling for higher rankings in the state tournament, and getting prepared for making deep playoff runs next month.
“I preach all the time that a great game is 2-1,” said OA coach Britt Sellmayer. “Someone is going to make a mistake, someone is going to hit a brilliant goal, and you need two [goals] to win. That’s two games in a row that this team has shown some growth since the Foxboro game where we had a 1-0 lead with 10 minutes to go and it kind of slipped away.
“It’s one of our best games of the year, so I’m pleased because Mansfield’s always tough to break down.”
The first half was largely dominated by the hosts. OA’s pressure on the ball was forcing turnovers high up the pitch and forcing Mansfield to resort to long balls over the top. There was very little time to take a touch and the Hornets struggled early.
Just six minutes into the game, OA had its first chance on a set piece. An in-swinging corner was only partially cleared and Ella McDonough got a foot to it. The shot was blocked onto the post and then a goal-bound rebound effort was blocked by Carly Devine.
In the 12th minute, another set piece would provide the opener. Mansfield keeper Olivia Salisbury did really well to prevent Katie Gibson’s corner from heading straight in, clawing the ball out from under the bar. Alexa Lane was there to knock the rebound back at goal but it was blocked out to Mary Cross. Third time was the charm, as the senior defender poked it home.
Lyla Nappa would have Mansfield’s first shot on goal in the 18th minute and it was comfortably saved by Emily Meyers. At the half-hour mark, the Hornets equalized out of nothing. Abby Jean and Tarynn Smith played a nice one-two about 35 yards from goal. Smith looked up and, for once, had no pressure on her so decided to have a go. The shot slid just under the bar and over the fingers of Meyers to make it 1-1.
“She’s starting to and we need it,” Mansfield coach Kevin Smith said of Tarynn Smith finding the back of the net more often in recent games. “We’re built on a team offense. We don’t have the Steph Kemp or the Cam O’Connor or the Kailee McCabe, so we have to get contributions from everybody.”
The remainder of the half was largely controlled by O’Connor. The Boston University-commit was proving difficult to contain, even as the Hornets threw multiple defenders on her. After sending one just wide from 25 yards, O’Connor dribbled past a pair of defenders into the box taking advantage of a Gabby Smith clearance ricocheting off Kara Santos for another chance that went just wide.
In the 39th minute, Lucinda Li Cotter teed up O’Connor from 20 yards that forced Salisbury into a full stretch save, tipping it around the post.
With the clock stopped at the end of the half, O’Connor had her moment. She rode a challenge near midfield and then carried the ball a full 40 yards down the left channel, got to the end line, and sent over a pinpoint, left-footed cross to Gilman ghosting in unmarked at the back post.
“Cam had the big play that we need every game from her,” said Sellmayer. “She is one of those rare players that has pace on the ball. Sometimes there will be a tackle and it ends up on your foot, ends up on my foot, well it usually ends up on her foot a little more often.”
The second half would feature very few chances for either team, but the Hornets made significant improvements in how they played out of the pressure. Smith admitted that it had little to do with his team talk at the break.
He explained, “Got to halftime and said what do you guys think? They were like, coach we were playing scared a little bit. They actually self-reflected and they figured out how to break it down. It’s what I love about these kids, they really think about the game and we’re growing.”
OA had a chance of yet another corner early in the second half but McDonough didn’t catch it cleanly and Santos was in the way to block and clear. In the 64th minute, Katie Gibson had a deflected cross find her at the back post but she couldn’t make clean contact and hit it right at Salisbury. A minute later, Carly Gibson set up O’Connor on her right foot but it was a tame effort that Salisbury snagged.
Those were the only chances for the Tigers after the break, but they were also limiting Mansfield, who was playing better and getting into advanced areas down the wings but still not troubling Meyers. The foursome of McDonough (making her first start), Cross, Allison Evin, and Sophia Byron largely held the Hornets at arm’s length.
“We really didn’t give them many chances inside the 18 and that’s something they’ve worked on,” said Sellmayer. “I thought Kyla [Melton] playing in the midfield gave us another edge on those headers that we didn’t have in the Foxboro game.”
Still, in a one-goal game, all it takes is a single chance to turn two points into one. Mansfield finally got that look in the 70th minute. Santos won the ball at the back and hit a quick outlet to Anna Darlington down the right wing leading to a corner. Smith curled one into the six-yard box and Devine was there but unable to keep her header down.
OA was able to run out the final nine minutes to secure the win and stay level with Foxboro in the Davenport title race
“I keep saying we’re young and learning and we are,” said Smith. “It’s been our mantra all year and it’s a great opportunity to learn about those little things and how to play against a team that’s, in the power rankings, No. 4 four in the state. It was good for us, I’m proud of my girls.”
It couldn’t have gone much better this time around.
Sparked by a broken play, the Black Knights finally got on the scoreboard with less than a minute to go in the first half and then scored on all four of its drives in the second half to land a 35-7 win on the road against Oliver Ames.
Locked in a scoreless game, Stoughton’s first two drives combined for eight plays and six yards, and the Knights lined up to punt on fourth down after their third drive stalled at their own 35-yard line with time running out in the second quarter.
But a low snap and pressure from an Oliver Ames special teamer forced senior Emmett Pearl to abandon the kick and take off running down the left sideline, sprinting 10 yards to move the sticks and keep the drive going.
“That was his decision, that was huge,” said Stoughton head coach Greg Burke.
Seven plays later, facing a 3rd and 20 from near midfield, sophomore quarterback Jarred Daughtry rolled out to the right on a bootleg, planted his feet, and fired back to the left side where Pearl, who had lined up on the right side of the formation, sprinted free and hauled in the catch, going for a 49 touchdown with just 29 seconds left in the half.
“It was a low snap and I saw the kid rushing, and I saw the open sideline and I wanted to score before halftime,” Pearl said. “I took off and it paid off. We really haven’t practice that so it was more my call off of instincts. I think coach felt the momentum with me and gave me a shot [on the touchdown].
“We learned our lesson from last week about staying up and keeping the lead. We fought and didn’t let the momentum take over after their touchdown.”
That spark ignited the Stoughton offense, which couldn’t be stopped the rest of the way. The Black Knights received the opening kickoff of the second half and quickly marched 65 yards on nine plays, highlighted by a 26-yard pass from Daughtry to Jonay Ly (11 carries, 82 yards, one touchdown).
Stoughton faced a 3rd and 2 inside the 10-yard line and the Tigers got to Anthony Girolamo (12 carries, 118 yards, two touchdowns) in the backfield but the senior running back withstood the hit and bulldozed his way forward for a first down. Two plays later, Ly plunged in from a yard out as the Knights doubled their lead to 14-0.
“The end of the half one really sucked,” said OA head coach Ed DeWitt. “We felt good at halftime, just made the one mistake, but they came out right away and scored. We thought we had a shot to get a tackle to get them into a longer fourth down but [Girolamo] breaks the tackle and they get in the next play. It’s kind of a killer. We’d like to get a little more push back there.”
Oliver Ames marched into the red zone, helped by runs from Collin Williamson and Chad Silva, for the second time in the game but came up empty-handed again. Stoughton’s Michael Jardim defended a pass in the end zone in the first half to end the Tigers’ first trip and this time around, a sack from Tyler Noel and Liam Joyce pushed OA back and on second down and Pearl came up with an interception on the next play.
“I don’t know if we’re at their level yet but I think we’re really close,” DeWitt said. “But when they had a shot, they got it in. When we had a shot, we don’t. If you score during the two red zone trips, it’s a different game. We’re playing differently, they have to play it differently, and all of a sudden you’re right in the game. But those big point swings are hard to overcome.”
Stoughton turned that interception into more points, going 83 yards on just six plays. Ly had back-to-back carries of nine and 12 yards, Girolamo broke free for 26 more yards, Konrad Rogers added 10 yards, and two plays later, Girolamo muscled his way to a 16-yard touchdown.
“We’re happy with the way we’re doing it,” Burke said, “As long as we can stay healthy I think we can hang in there with anybody…we’re going to be fighting and clawing and that’s Stoughton all the way.”
Oliver Ames reached into its bag of tricks to get on the scoreboard and get some momentum back. A reverse on the first play saw junior Jaden Graham go for 14 yards and a first down. On the next, senior quarterback Jake Grimaldi tossed a quick pass out to classmate Sean Friel, who was behind the line of scrimmage. Friel launched a pass down the left sideline and junior Jack Morley hauled it in, broke free from the last defender, and toed the line for a 51-yard touchdown.
The momentum was short-lived for OA, as the onside kick attempt just slipped through and Stoughton took over. Two plays later, Girolamo burst up the middle for a 45-yard touchdown and a 28-7 lead.
Stoughton got its second fourth down stop of the game and went 41 yards on seven plays, capped by a fourth down touchdown pass from Daughtry and Jardim from 11 yards out.
“Last week was tough, we played hard,” Burke said. “We didn’t win but we learned some lessons and fixed some mistakes. We’re just going to keep getting better and we’re happy we got our first league win. We’re hoping to get into the playoffs like everybody else in America.”
Stoughton football (1-0 Hockomock Davenport, 2-2 overall) is back on the road for the third straight week when it travels to Foxboro (3-1). Oliver Ames (0-1, 1-3) will try to bounce back when it takes to Canton.
NORTH EASTON, Mass. – The Oliver Ames girls soccer team controlled possession, applied a lot of pressure, and had nearly a dozen corners in the first half of its matchup with Franklin on Friday afternoon.
And at halftime, all they had to show for it was a 2-0 deficit on the scoreboard.
Nevertheless, the Tigers persisted.
Oliver Ames continued to carry the play in the second half and found the back of the net twice to earn a 2-2 draw against the visiting Panthers.
“We were lucky to come away with a 2-2 tie,” admitted Franklin interim head coach Jodi Klein. “OA outplayed us for most of the game. We capitalized on some scoring opportunities which is wonderful but we were playing too slowly, not contesting for 50-50 balls enough. The last half of the second half, after it got level, we did a much better job. But I think we needed to increase our intensity.”
The Tigers picked up where they left off to start the second half, quickly moving up field to pressure the Panthers’ defense. There was a near chance less than a minute into the second half but Franklin junior Norah Anderson recovered well and timed her slide perfectly to deny an open look in the area.
OA continued its pressure and it finally paid off in the 47th minute after a superb effort from senior Camryn O’Connor. After gaining possession just over half near the middle of the pitch, O’Connor used her speed to race down the right wing, getting around the defender before inserting a low cross right to the six-yard line. Sophomore Lucinda Li Cotter made the run to the middle and used a deft touch to redirect the cross on a one-timer into the back of the net.
After failing to convert on 11 corners in the first 40 minutes, totaling eight shots on target, the Tigers were finally on the board early in the second half.
“Cam pretty much had to make a superhuman play just to get that cross off to Lu but that got us going,” said OA head coach Britt Sellmayer. “The girls showed a lot of character to fight and get back into the game.”
While the Tigers didn’t have as many chances in the second half, they still controlled the play. Just under 20 minutes after getting on the board, the hosts found the equalizer.
Lauren Sellmayer sent a free kick from just over half into the area at the far post. The ball bounced off a Franklin defender and fell in front to freshman Taylor deVos, who was all alone in front and buried the loose ball to knot the score 2-2 in the 66th minute.
“It’s a good tie, it’s early in the year, we’re still figuring it out,” Sellmayer said. “We played a little tense, made a mistake, and gave up a goal early and that’s going to happen. I don’t think they had as many chances as we did in the first half but had the lead. And they were tougher than us, more physical, and won those 50-50 balls. You have to credit them for that, they won those battles all game. Their back four is solid, it’s hard to get chances.
“It was a great game. Two good teams going at it and I think we had the edge just about everywhere except the scoreboard.”
Franklin’s best scoring chance for the go-ahead goal came in the 74th minute on a free kick in the attacking third. Senior Izzy Arnold put her shot from the left wing on target but OA keeper Emily Meyers handled it soundly.
While OA controlled the run of play over the first 40 minutes, it was Franklin that put the ball in the back of the net twice in the opening half.
Less than 10 minutes into the contest, a failed clearance from the OA defense went right to the feet of Stella Regan at the top of the area. Regan took a touch and then deposited her shot over the keeper and into the back of the net at the far post for a 1-0m advantage in the 9th minute.
Oliver Ames girls soccer
OA had its chances to pull level. The Tigers had two good looks in the 17th minute, the best of the two when freshman Emma Gavin saw her half volley tipped over the bar by Franklin keeper Rachel Welch. Senior Katie Gibson and junior Jenna Gilman also put in strong shifts for the Tigers.
Franklin almost doubled its lead moments later as sophomore striker Anya Zub forced a turnover and carried into the area but her low shot was denied. On the other end of the pitch, O’Connor saw her free kick to the far corner stopped by Welch, who parried the bid over the crossbar.
Five minutes later, the momentum swung back in favor of the visitors as they doubled their lead in the 28th minute. Anderson dropped a free kick in between the defense and the keeper, and Regan was the first to react to the loose ball, nodding it home off the bounce past the oncoming keeper.
“I’ll take a point on the road against a team like OA, especially given the fact that we did not play to our potential,” Klein said. “We didn’t have our best game but we played a good team and walk away with a point so I’ll take it.”
Oliver Ames girls soccer (2-0-1 Hock, 2-0-1 overall) returns to action on Monday with a road trip to division foe Sharon while Franklin (2-0-1, 2-0-1) returns home for a clash with Taunton on the same day.