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
MILFORD, Mass. – Twenty minutes into Friday night’s regular season finale at Milford High, Stoughton had only managed three first downs. Another short drive came to a close after Jonathan Medina was sacked by several Hawks and offensive lineman Malachi Green-Hightower was forced to jump on a fumble to keep the possession alive.
Paul Feeney hit a towering punt downfield towards Ryan O’Toole, who was unable to come up with it cleanly. Matthew Hadley pounced on the loose ball and put the Black Knights at the Milford 25. On the next play, Justin Ly bounced outside the tackle and raced down the Milford sideline for a 25-yard score with 1:31 left in the first half.
The score turned out to be the game-winner, as the Black Knights defense smothered the Milford offense, limiting the Hawks to only eight first downs in the game (only three in the second half), in a 14-3 victory that sets up a three-way tie for second place in the Davenport division and most likely a home game for Stoughton in the Div. 3 South playoffs.
“That’s a good team,” said Stoughton coach Greg Burke, “they played very hard, and they’ve been excellent the last couple weeks and luckily we got them and I’m glad we did it by running the football.”
The Black Knights were without starting quarterback Evan Gibb, who was injured in the loss to North Attleboro, and Burke praised Medina (2-6, 25 yards) for managing the game. Burke said, “You’ve got to make some tough plays and the toughest job, he did a great job for us, was our quarterback. The kid hasn’t played a lot and…everything’s a little different.”
Milford started the game in a spread formation with sophomore Colby Pires (7-16, 118 yards) in the shotgun. On the first possession of the game, Pires hit Shapel Feaster for 20 yards and the Hawks moved the ball into Stoughton territory, but on fourth and nine Pires scrambled and hit Lucas Rosa for eight yards and the drive stalled at the Black Knights 29.
On the second possession, backed up to their own 11, the Hawks hit their biggest play of the game. Pires looked deep down the near sideline to Joey Everett, a senior who transferred in from St. George’s School (Newport, R.I.) midway through the season, and the wideout made an incredible 41-yard catch just keeping a foot in bounds. On the next play, Pires was intercepted by Ryan Semler.
“When you have three turnovers and a muffed punt deep in your own end, it’s hard to get anything going,” said first-year Milford coach Anthony Vizakis. “We tried our spread, we tried our war, they did a really great job. They have a great defense.”
Vizakis admitted that the touchdown before halftime was a turning point. He said, “Unfortunately, sometimes all it takes is one play. We were hoping to put a drive together and we had some things ready to go, but you could feel the momentum shift. Against a tough team like that, it’s hard to come back from it.”
The Black Knights went into the locker room with energy after the late touchdown, but in the end both defenses were too strong to keep the momentum going. A sack by Josh Ligor ended the second Stoughton possession of the third quarter and gave Milford the ball back at its own 30.
The Hawks turned to junior Ryan Pearl at quarterback in a compact power set that worked the week before in the comeback win over Foxboro. A six-yard completion to Will Pointer got a rare third down conversion for a first down and Pointer followed it with a 20-yard burst around the end. Once again the drive stalled, but Milford turned to junior kicker Sean Lehane, who split the upright with a 46-yard boot (with room to spare) that cut the lead to 7-3.
“He’s unreal,” said Vizakis of Lehane. “That’s automatic for him. He kicks 50-55 [yards] in practice and I think we have to utilize him even more when we’re close. He’s clutch.”
The home crowd was starting to get into it, especially after Ruben Gonzalez was stopped on the kick-off return at his own 17, but the Black Knights settled down and put together the best drive of the game.
Alex Sjoquist (15 carries, 91 yards) was the main threat, getting the ball eight times during a 13-play, 83-yard march that took seven minutes off the clock and sealed the win. The big play was a 41-yard burst straight up the middle from Sjoquist that Tyler Joyce kept from being a touchdown with a diving, shoestring tackle. In the end, Sjoquist plunged into the end zone with a three-yard score.
Any hope of another late comeback by the Hawks was dashed by a Colin Sanda interception.
Burke said of the team’s ability to matchup with Milford’s bunch sets, “We got hurt a little bit but…we worked very hard at that all week. It’s a very effective offense, if you get one long play. You’re in tight, so they’re hoping someone cracks one and gets out. So, you have to really protect against the bounce out.”
Despite the defeat, it looks like Milford (3-4, 3-2) has qualified for the Div. 3 South playoffs and could face possible trips to North Attleboro, Duxbury or Hingham. Vizakis is proud of how far the Hawks have come from the opening game of the season.
He said, “We’re 100 percent getting better every week and that’s what we tell them, get better every day. The kids are improving, they’re getting more comfortable in the system, and once we see where we fall in the playoff bracket we’ll be ready to go next week.”
Stoughton (5-2, 3-2) appears to be in line for the third or fourth seed in Div. 3 South.
Burke said, “We’re 5-2 with a couple of our starters out…and I’m just happy we’re getting in the playoffs for our fourth consecutive year. I don’t know, if you had said at the beginning of the year that we’d be 5-2 I would’ve called you crazy, but that’s the type of kids I have, tough kids.”
NORTH EASTON, Mass. – It’s been a week to remember for North Attleboro senior quarterback Chad Peterson.
Just days after giving a verbal commitment to play college football at Amherst College, Peterson scored three touchdowns to lead the Rocketeers to a 35-21 win over Stoughton at W.B. Mason Stadium on the campus of Stonehill College.
The win clinches at least a share of the 2017 Hockomock League Davenport title, the third straight league title for the program and Peterson, a three-year starter. The Rocketeers can clinch the title outright with a win against Canton next week. If Canton wins, North can still win the title outright if Stoughton beats Milford.
“He’s a special player,” said North Attleboro head coach Don Johnson. “I think it’s safe to say we might not have won those three championships if Chad Peterson wasn’t our quarterback. He’s a difference maker.”
With a chance to three-peat on the line, Peterson and the North Attleboro offense put together one of its best performances of the season, scoring 35 points on a defense that had previously allowed just 41 points total through the first five games.
“I thought we had a great week of practice,” Peterson said. “We knew what this game meant, we knew it’d be a physical game. We came out and ran the ball and turned out well for us.”
Big Red’s offense scored on two of its first three drives but a late touchdown from Stoughton in the second quarter kept the teams level at halftime.
But in the second half, after its first drive ended in a punt, Peterson led the offense on three consecutive scoring drives to put the Rocketeers ahead for good.
“I think [our offense] was probably the difference in the game,” Johnson said. “Our offense, particularly up front, taking over the game.”
“It says a lot about the coaching staff and how they approach each season,” Peterson about the three straight league titles. “We graduate guys each year, I’m playing with different players each year but each year guys step up and we just have a championship culture.”
Despite both defensive units being the top two stingiest in the league, both offenses came out strong. A big return from Stoughton sophomore Ajahn Rue set the Black Knights up with good field position. Eight plays later, senior Alex Sjoquist took the toss to the left side and in for a two-yard score and a 7-0 lead.
North’s offense had an immediate response, driving 66 yards on eight plays to tie the score. The Rocketeers didn’t face a third down all drive and junior Nick Raneri (16 carries, 107 yards) punched it in from six yards out to knot it 7-7 with 2:45 left in the first quarter.
The defensive units settled in as Stoughton went three and out and punted, but the Black Knights’ defense forced the same from North.
North’s defense stuffed Sjoquist on third and shot scenario to get the ball back and its offense took the field, driving 63 yards for a score. Stoughton’s defense nearly shut the drive down early but on third and 10, Peterson (7/12, 88 yards) hit Mario Bresko with a beautiful 47-yard long ball to move the chains.
Four plays later, Peterson kept it himself and powered up the middle for a four-yard touchdown and a 14-7 lead.
Stoughton nearly had an immediate response when junior Evan Gibb (4/5, 83 yards) hit Ruben Gonzalez for 42 yards, and two plays later again for 16 yards. The Black Knights got inside the 10-yard line but on fourth down, the Rocketeers sent a blitz and junior Ryan Clemente came up with the big hit and get the ball back.
“I thought he did a great job in his pass rush,” Johnson said of Clemente. “I thought the whole defensive front did a good job in the pass rush, I think that made a difference in the game. And Clemente and some other guys were getting it done on offense too.”
North’s offense stalled, giving Stoughton the ball back with just 25 seconds left in the first half. After a holding call pushed the Black Knights back, they elected to run. Senior Justin Ly took off to the right side, cut back through a gap in the defense and sprinted his way for a 65-yard touchdown just before half, tying the game 14-14.
Big Red moved into Stoughton territory to start the second half but punted, making Stoughton start at their own 20-yard line. Not only did Clemente’s sack at the end of the first half stop Stoughton’s scoring threat, it also knocked Gibb from the game.
Stoughton senior Johnny Medina (8/18, 95 yards, touchdown) took over under center and hit Rue for 11-yards and a first down. But two plays later, Medina was hit as he threw, causing the ball to flutter in the air and Bresko came down with the interception.
“It really didn’t alter our game plan because I think [Medina] throws the ball pretty well too,” Johnson said of the quarterback change. “I was actually watching him in pregame and thinking he was just as good. So when he came in it didn’t really change our game plan, I think our kids just did a nice job of getting to the quarterback.”
North was quick to turn the interception into points. Peterson converted a third down with a pass to Bresko over the middle and five plays later, Peterson kept it himself for a one-yard score and a 21-14 lead with 0:29 left in the third quarter.
Big Red’s defense brought the pressure again, forcing a quick three and out. Starting with a 27-yard scamper from Brendan McHugh (nine carries, 70 yards), North went 69 yards on eight plays to extend its lead to two scores. Nathan Pearce capped the drive with an eight-yard touchdown on a jet sweep.
“They just pushed us around up front in the second half,” said Stoughton head coach Greg Burke. “We had to stop them and we didn’t. They didn’t do anything they hadn’t done before. Their big guy, the right tackle [Clemente] they went behind him each time.
“It’s high school, you get down by two scores it can be tough for the kids. Losing Gibb hurt tremendously, but that’s high school. You’re only as good as your next player.”
Stoughton moved the chains once on its next drive, but three straight incompletions resulted in a turnover on downs, and great field position for North. The Rocketeers took just five plays to drive the 33 yards, with Peterson punching it in from two yards out for a 35-14 lead.
Peterson finished with 49 yards on 11 carries, the second most carries by a Rocketeer.
“Chad’s been a little banged up the last couple of weeks so we haven’t been able to do that much with him,” Johnson said. “But when you’re successful running the edge like we were with Raneri and McHugh, defense loosens up and starts to widen and that opens things up for the quarterback running.”
The Black Knights added a score with under a minute to play when Medina hit a wide open Ly up the middle for a 51-yard touchdown.
North Attleboro football (5-1 overall, 4-0 Davenport) has a chance to clinch the Davenport title outright when it entertains Canton at Community Field on Friday night. North Attleboro will likely clinch a home playoff game with a win over the Bulldogs.
“We don’t talk about the playoffs until today, we’ll start talking about it,” Johnson said. “We’ve got our share of the championship, that’s number one. Now we talk about the chance to win the outright championship and here’s what it means for the playoffs. We want to get that home game.”
Stoughton (4-2, 2-2) will try to bounce back when it hits the road to take on the Scarlet Hawks.
“Next week is a big week for both of us for position the playoff,” Burke said. “But we have to play a lot better than we played in the second half today.”