FOXBORO, Mass. – Coming off its first loss of the season (to league-leading Stoughton), Foxboro was looking for a reaction when it hosted Canton on Friday night at Sam Berns Community Field. Thanks to a dominant defense and big plays on special teams, the Warriors answered the challenge and got right back on track.
Foxboro picked off a pair of passes, allowed only three first downs in the first half, scored on a punt return, and kicked three field goals, beating Canton 37-0 to stay within one game of the Black Knights (and North Attleboro, which plays on Saturday) in the Davenport division.
“I can’t say enough about the kids tonight,” said Foxboro coach Jack Martinelli. “They did a great job in a game they had to win. I always told them that I don’t judge them after a loss or a win, it’s when you get knocked down can you come back like they did tonight. That’s the true test of character.”
It was always going to be a tough road trip for the Bulldogs, but the task got considerably tougher when leading rusher Cam Sanchez was injured on the opening possession and didn’t return.
“Cam can go at any time and we didn’t have ability to have that weapon for us this week. We’ll find out if he’s healthy or not,” said Canton coach Anthony Fallon. Martinelli added, “Would’ve been a different kind of game. [Sanchez is] a home run hitter.”
Canton’s defense was looking tough to beat in the first quarter too, Jack Albert had a pair of sacks on Foxboro’s second possession, but the Warriors took advantage of a turnover to grab the lead. Dylan Gordon intercepted a Robert Botelho pass and returned it down to the Canton 13. Two plays later, Gordon took a counter 10 yards into the end zone. The conversion was no good after a bad snap, but the Warriors were up 6-0.
The Bulldogs went three-and-out on their next possession. Luis Sulham stepped up to receive the punt at his own 46 and weaved his way through the Canton cover team, reversing field twice on his way to the end zone. Gordon was able to punch in the conversion and Foxboro led 14-0 after one.
After another three-and-out, the Foxboro offense finally clicked into gear a little but Sulham was ruled to have lost the ball just before he was able to stretch it across the line for another score. He would step up on Canton’s next punt, again coming up with a big return to give Foxboro the ball at the Bulldogs 11.
“You either have it or you don’t,” Martinelli said about the speed he has on the roster. “You can coach quickness but you can’t coach speed and we have some speed.”
Although Foxboro went nowhere, sophomore Sam Carpenter came in and drilled a 27-yard field goal to make it 17-0. A Trent Rennie sack ended Canton’s next possession and then Rashaad Way returned the punt 50 yards to get it back down to the 24. Again, the Warriors went nowhere, but Carpenter split the uprights from 40 yards.
“I have all the confidence in that kid,” said Martinelli. “Thank god for the double season,” he added, referencing Carpenter’s ability to play soccer and football this year. “He wanted to give it a try and we watched two kicks and just kind of said you’re in. I was looking at the list and said, who’s Sam Carpenter? Well, now I know who he is.”
Carpenter was a difference maker for the Warriors. Foxboro started the second half with the ball and, after a 38-yard pass from Cam Prescott (6-of-15, 98 yards) to Way moved the Warriors into the red zone. Instead of leaving without points, Carpenter stepped up again and nailed one from 31 yards.
The Bulldogs were seeking answers on the offensive end. Colin Albert took over from Sanchez as the primary running back and finished with 100 yards on 17 carries, continuing to fight for extra yards even as the Warriors started to pull away.
“Colin did a great job filling in, running the inside zone,” said Fallon. “Colin’s a tough kid going both ways and grinding it out like that, especially against a good team like that who’s going to hit you on every play.”
Trying to make something happen, Canton called for a halfback pass but Tom Sharkey stepped in the way of Andrew Butler’s throw. On the first play of the drive, Prescott hit Sharkey for 30 yards down to the Canton four. On the next play, Mike Norvish burst up the middle for the touchdown.
In the fourth quarter, Foxboro added one more score. Tom Marcucella took over at quarterback and broke a 23-yard run on third down. He had his pass to the end zone picked off by Vincent O’Brien, but a roughing the passer call negated the turnover and moved Foxboro to the 10. Four carries later Steven Petrillo was able to find a little seam on the right side of the line for a one-yard score.
“It killed us,” Fallon said about the struggles on special teams. “Our coverage was lacking tonight for sure and we’ll have to see if we can sharpen that up. Short turnaround, so we’ll put a game plan together and turn around and play on Thursday.”