Hornets surge to win
No. 4 Mansfield tops N. Attleboro
NORTH ATTLEBORO – Mansfield coach Mike Redding was sure that his squad’s game against Hockomock League rival North Attleboro last night would be a one-possession game decided in the fourth quarter.
His assessment was dead on as the No. 4 Hornets staved off No. 7 North Attleboro’s comeback bid, winning, 24-15, and gaining the inside track to the league title in the process.
“That was a great back-and-forth game between two unbelievable teams,’’ said Redding. “Both teams were making plays, I am just glad we could put it away.’’
With 2:07 remaining in the game and leading, 17-9, the Hornets (7-1, 6-0) were backed against a wall. North Attleboro (7-1, 5-1), thanks to Brady Shorey’s 32-yard scamper, was at the Mansfield 7-yard line.
On second and goal, Danny Johnson swept right but pulled up. He lobbed a pass to Ryan Flannery, who tipped it to himself for the touchdown.
On the 2-point attempt, Paul McCarthy was stuffed on a quarterback keeper by Joe Oram, keeping the Hornets ahead, 17-15.
“They just made a few more plays than we did,’’ said North Attleboro coach Don Johnson. “Our inability to stop Mansfield on third and fourth down really hurt us.’’
Dave Eberhart recovered the onside kick for Mansfield and Greg Donahue sealed the game with a 28-yard touchdown jaunt with 43 seconds left. The touchdown came two plays after Jamel Marshall converted a third-and-7 with a 17-yard reception.
Marshall toyed with the Red Rocketeers’ defense, rushing for 157 yards and a touchdown despite being stopped for a loss nine times. He also had 36 yards receiving.
“My offensive line opened holes and I just did my job and got through them,” said Marshall.
Said Redding about his workhorse running back, “I was a little worried because Jamel’s knee was a little gimpy heading into the game. But he is tough, fast, and gets the tough yards. He turns 2-yard plays into 12- or 14-yard plays.”
Mansfield got on the board first, midway through the second quarter. On a fourth-and-13 at the North Attleboro 18-yard line, George Busharis lofted a pass to the end zone that Jeff Hill was able to snare at its apex.
The teams then traded field goals as Eberhart was true with a 23-yarder and North Attleboro’s Zach Horton hit a 22-yarder as time expired, making the score 10-3 at the end of the half.
The Red Rocketeers got within 1 point after Shorey took a screen pass from McCarthy and weaved 51 yards for the touchdown. However, on the point-after attempt, Hill hopped over the offensive line and blocked Horton’s kick, leaving the score at 10-9.
Marshall’s 5-yard touchdown rush pushed the lead to 17-9 in the fourth quarter.