By Joe Clark, HockomockSports.com Student Reporter
FOXBORO, Mass. – All season long, whenever it needed a stop, the King Philip Warriors defense had the answer.
In the MIAA Division 2 State Championship game Friday night at Gillette Stadium, that held true once again.
With 5:03 left to play and the game tied 7-7, KP linebacker Jack Webster hit Lincoln-Sudbury quarterback Braden O’Connell from the blind side and forced the ball loose with KP senior Evan Rice falling on the loose ball.
KP took over on the Lincoln-Sudbury 27-yard line, and moved the ball up to the L-S 13 to set up Cole Baker for a 31-yard field goal, which the sophomore drilled through the uprights with 1:36 to go, giving the Warriors a 10-7 and King Philip it’s 25th straight victory.
On the first play of Lincoln-Sudbury’s ensuing possession, Max Armour sacked O’Connell, and three incompletions later, King Philip clinched its second consecutive state championship.
“I knew when we got that strip sack that we were going to win it,” King Philip head coach Brian Lee said. “I knew right then it was over.”
On KP’s first drive of the second half, starting quarter Brendan Lydon scrambled to his right and picked up the first down. However, Lydon got rolled up on and suffered a leg injury and was forcing to the sideline, meaning sophomore backup Robert Jarest had to take over under center.
“I really did not expect to play today,” Jarest said. “[Lydon] is a tough kid, I didn’t expect him to get hurt, but he went down, and I tried to do what the coaches asked me to do.”
On Jarest’s first play under center, he fumbled the snap.
“I would say there were some jitters there, I pulled it a little early,” Jarest added
After a Shane Frommer run, KP was facing a third and eight backed up in their own territory. The Warriors’ coaching staff showed their faith as Jarest connected with Thomas Madden down the sideline for a 38 yard gain that put KP on the L-S 23 yard line. Frommer (23 carries, 107 yards, TD) did the rest, as three carries later KP was in the end zone and the game was tied up at 7-7.
After KP forced a stop on the ensuing L-S possession, largely thanks to some key plays by cornerback Andrew Dittrich, the Warriors gave Frommer the keys to the offense once again, as he ran for 30 yards on the next KP drive to get them in field goal range. Cole Baker’s 39 yard field goal attempt had the distance, but it was just wide left.
On the next L-S possession, Jack Webster forced the strip sack that changed the momentum of the game.
“I was just going for the sack, and my head peeked over the shoulder and I just swatted at the ball, and got a hold of it,” Webster said about the game-changing play.
KP killed clock on their next possession by giving it to Frommer, who kept the ball moving and was able to pick up 14 yards. Baker came back in and drilled a 31-yard attempt to give KP a 10-7 lead.
“I thought of taking a look to Thomas Madden on the outside, because Robert can throw a pretty good fade and that’s what got us down there before, but in the end I just didn’t want to put undue pressure on that kid coming in like he did, and I knew that Cole, had that kick in him, and I was more confident in going with Cole at that point,” Lee said about his decision to kick the field goal late in the game.
“Keep it simple, give it to Shane, let him get a first down, and run out the clock, and we did that, and Cole hit a great field goal,” Jarest added about KP’s strategy after forcing the turnover.
Lincoln-Sudbury opened the game in impressive fashion. After getting stuffed on two straight run plays to open the game, O’Connell completed a pass on third down to move the chains. From there, it was a slow grind as the Warriors methodically moved upfield, eventually taking a 7-0 lead on an 18-yard pass from O’Connell to Matthew Cunningham. The drive took 7:35 off the clock.
King Philip was limited to just 52 yards of offense on limited played in the first half thanks to Lincoln-Sudbury’s offense eating up a majority of the clock.
But in the second half, King Philip’s defense pitched a shutout. It marked the seventh time in 12 games that the Warriors didn’t allow any points in the second half. The five teams who have scored against KP in the second half this year did not score more than once, and three of them did it in the first three weeks of the season.
Even more impressive is that KP held the opposing Warriors to just seven points, which is over 30 points less than what previously unbeaten Lincoln-Sudbury averaged coming into the contest.
King Philip football (12-0) once again completes an undefeated season, and they’ve won 25 straight games dating back to Thanksgiving 2015 against Franklin. The Warriors beat Barnstable, Mansfield, and Bridgewater-Raynham en route to their second straight state title.