Mansfield rocks KP
THE SUN CHRONICLE
Sunday, November 2, 2003
MANSFIELD -- King Philip Regional High football coach Bob Reardon couldn't have scripted a better start for his team's showdown with Hockomock League power Mansfield High Friday night at Memorial Park. It's the end he would have liked to rewrite.
After stymieing Mansfield on its first possession, the Warriors put together a touchdown-scoring drive of 90 yards on 15 plays, eating up nearly eight minutes of clock in the process -- the ideal start.
However, the Hornets used a combination of big plays and a clutch performance by quarterback John Sperrazza to score the game's final 21 points -- not exactly the ending Reardon had in mind.
Mansfield survived by far its toughest test of the season and ran its season-long unbeaten streak to eight games by polishing off King Philip, 41-20, in a game much closer than the final score would indicate.
“What a heck of a football game. That's one of the best high school football games I've seen in a long, long time and I'm just proud to be a part of it. You never like to lose, but my guys left it all on the field,” said coach Reardon, his team dropping to 2-2 in the Hockomock and 6-2 overall.
Added Mansfield coach Mike Redding, whose team is now 5-0 in the Hock and 8-0 overall after the Homecoming win, “ Coach Reardon has done a tremendous job over there. They were what, 3-8 last year, now look at them, they're one of the toughest teams in the league now and they gave us a battle.”
The stage for this battle was set in the first quarter as Mansfield was forced to punt on its first possession, the only time the Hornets punted all night. KP took the ball and rammed it down Mansfield's throat with a steady diet of running backs John Phillips and Reid Eichelberger (132 yards rushing).
The drive culminated just four seconds into the second quarter with a 3-yard touchdown run by Phillips, on a 4th-and-inches nonetheless. Mike Sarapas added the PAT and it was obvious the Warriors weren't messing around.
But neither were the Hornets, and they had an answer.
“We seemed to sting them there early on, but they stung us right back,'' said Reardon. “We knew what their offensive capabilities were and you saw just about everything. We didn't want to get into a shootout with them, our best chance was to control the ball and keep it away from their offense.”
Once the Hornets got their hands back on the ball they looked more like a team that has outscored the opposition 297-60 this year. Tom Farrell had a nice over-the-shoulder catch on a perfectly thrown ball by Sperrazza to set up a 1st-and-goal then Jared Giblin punched it in from two yards out. Bryan Young's PAT tied things at 7-7, then things really started to open up.
KP quarterback Rich Mattson ran 56 yards on an option play then hit Tom McGuire for an 11-yard touchdown pass as the Warriors went 73 yards on five plays, retaking the lead at 13-7 as the PAT by Sarapas went wide right.
Mansfield needed just 48 seconds to retaliate, but tied things up at quite an expense. The Hornets went 62 yards on four plays, Sperrazza hitting Ryan MacLean in the right corner of the end zone from 22 yards out for the tying score. KP blocked the PAT to keep things knotted at 13-all.
The drive was costly for Mansfield as starting guard and nose tackle Derek McCune, was lost with a back injury. Captain Brian Kiley, the team's biggest threat out of the backfield, also went down with a sprained ankle after ripping off a 19-yard run. With two key players out, Sperrazza had to come up big for the Hornets.
“I don't know where we would have been without him. He showed a lot of poise and really took the game over,'' said Redding. “Without him at quarterback we probably don't win this game.”
Sperrazza's signature drive in this game came in the final minutes of the second quarter, as Mansfield tried to gather some momentum heading into the break.
Sperrazza's first toss was a gorgeous strike to Farrell over the middle for 53 yards and a touchdown. However, a holding call wiped out the play and the score. No harm done, as Sperrazza got some of the yards back on a 14-yard keeper. He then found Farrell in the left flat for eight yards and MacLean in the right flat for 11 yards.
Redding stuck with the hot hand and Sperrazza delivered, hitting Farrell twice more for 19 yards. After being sacked on a third-down play and the final seconds of the half ticking off, Sperrazza showed poise to get his team to the line of scrimmage, then he hit a sliding Ryan Kent over the middle for a 12-yard touchdown just as the scoreboard clock went to all zeros.
Mansfield went to the break with a 19-13 lead, but KP showed some resiliency by putting together another time-consuming drive to open the second half. KP went 84 yards on eight plays, reclaiming the lead (20-19) on a 28-yard option run by Mattson.
After missing nearly a quarter's worth of action, both McCune and Kiley came back in and the Hornets wasted little time in one-upping KP. Farrell went 69 yards on a double reverse, getting a nice block downfield from Kent then stiff-arming Phillips before going into the end zone for the go-ahead score.
The double-reverse worked a couple more times for Mansfield in setting up another touchdown pass from Sperrazza to MacLean, a 24-yard strike that upped the lead to 33-20 after three quarters. Mansfield finished off the scoring with 2:09 remaining when Kiley ran 39 yards on an option left, that on a 4th-and-3 play.
I can't fault our guys for anything. They played as hard as they could and had a shot at it,” said Reardon. “I feel bad for Oliver Ames next week, because these guys are going to want to take this loss out on somebody.”
Mansfield entertains non-league Boston College High School.
Sperrazza's a big-time quarterback
Sunday, November 2, 2003
MANSFIELD - Mansfield head coach Mike Redding knew what he had under center. He was just waiting for the rest of the world to notice.
The EMass football world is standing at attention now, as senior quarterback John Sperrazza turned in a lion-hearted three touchdown effort to lead No. 3ranked Mansfield to a 41-20 victory over Hockomock League foe King Philip.
“Sperrazza's a big-time quarterback,” said Redding. “If I was a college recruiter in New England, I don't know why they're not here yet, because they should be.”
The spotlight was thrust upon Sperrazza when, with the Warriors leading 13-6 midway through the second quarter, Hornet fullback Brian Kiley came up lame with an ankle sprain.
The senior fullback's injury forced the Hornets to take to the air. Setup by Kiley's 19-yard run on the previous play, Sperrazza connected with receiver Ryan MacLean from 22-yards out to knot the tally at 13.
“We usually like to stay pretty balanced,” said Redding. “But they were doing a great job on the run, getting eight-nine guys up on the run, so we knew we had to throw.”
And throw they did.
After a strong defensive effort, the Hornets took over on their 46. Sperrazza found a wide-open Tommy Farrell between the hash marks on the first play from scrimmage for what seemed to be a 55yard score. The play was called back due to holding, but Sperrazza engineered a drive over the final two minutes of the half, completing 5 of 8 attempts for 50 yards. Senior tight end Ryan Kent was on the receiving end of Sperrazza's second TD pass of the day, and 11-yard effort that gave Mansfield a 19-13 cushion to end the half.
The Warriors came out running in the third, turning to senior running back Reid Eichelberger. On the opening series of the half, King Philip held possession for the initial 4:30, with Eichelberger carrying five times for 43 yards. Standing at the Hornet 28, Warrior quarterback Rico Mattson executed a perfect decoy to Eichelberger, then scurried into the end zone on a 28-yard keeper. Kicker Mike Sarapas split the uprights, giving King Philip a 20-19 lead.
But that lead was short lived, when on the first play from scrimmage following Mattson's touchdown, Farrell ripped off a Barry Sanders-like 69-yard touchdown run, putting the Hornets back in front 25-20.
Mansfield crushes King Philip
Sunday, November 2, 2003
MANSFIELD - Injuries are never expected, but can dictate the flow of a game or even an entire season.
Mansfield lost star player Gerry Willett early in the year to a torn ACL, but still managed an unblemished record coming into a key clash with surprising King Philip. And when injuries plagued the Hornets again, they still found someone else to step up and shine. Despite injuries to leading rusher Brian Kiley and two-way starting lineman Derek McCune, who both went down in the same series in the second quarter, Mansfield rolled off four consecutive touchdowns and scored on every second-half possession to blow out a much-improved Warriors squad, 41-20.
Senior quarterback John Sperrazza filled the void on offense by tossing three touchdowns - two to senior wideout Ryan MacLean, the first two of his career - and finished with 135 yards on 8-of-14 passing.
“He is as good as I've seen on the high school level in some time and just very poised making great throws when we needed throws and just put on a great performance,'' said Hornets coach Mike Redding. ``I think - really - without him, we're in trouble (in this game) and Sperrazza was the difference.''
The Warriors opened up the scoring in the second quarter on John Phillips' 4-yard run off tackle, but the Hornets answered back with a 3-yard sweep left to Jared Giblin to knot it at 7.'
Both teams exchanged scores on their next series. KP senior quarterback Rich Mattson (5-of-8, 56 yards) tossed an 11-yard TD pass to senior Tom McGuire. But on the Hornets' next possession, Kiley (ankle) and McCune (back spasms) went down and Sperrazza went to work.'
The 6-foot-3, 215-pound quarterback found MacLean for the first of their two hookups and then followed that up with an 11-play drive, hitting Ryan Kent in stride on a post pattern in the middle of the end zone to give his team a 20-19 lead as time expired in the half.
“I knew it was time when Kiley went down and he usually picks up all the blitzes from the outside as well, but coach said make the reads and hit the open ones,'' Sperrazza said. ``(MacLean has) been hounding me about getting in the end zone this year, so I was real happy for him and I just don't usually have to throw when Kiley is running for 15 yards a carry, but we opened it up today.'''
King Philip reclaimed the lead in its first drive of the second half, led by running back Reid Eichelberger (17 carries, 125 yards). The nine-play drive ate up just under five minutes of the clock and Mattson (112 yards rushing) capped it off with a 28-yard keeper for a score.
But Mansfield stole the momentum right back on its next play from scrimmage, when Thomas Farrell rushed for a 69-yard TD on a counter-reverse. Kiley returned in the fourth quarter to cap the scoring with a 49-yard run up the middle.
“We thought maybe the football gods were looking at us,'' KP coach Bob Reardon said. “But it was one hell of a high school football game, no?''
|1st Downs||Total yards||Rushing yards||Passing yards||Penalties|
Individual Mansfield statistics
Giblin 4-16, Kiley 7-83, Farrell 10-173, Sperrazza 2-18, Joseph 1-10, Creeden 2-8, D'Ambra 1-(-2).
Mansfield - Sperrazza 8-16-0--134
Mansfield Farrell 4-65, MacLean 3-57, Kent 1-12.
MISSED FIELD GOALS:
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