`` I didn't think we could win this way,'' said the Mansfield High School football
coach, following his team's 34-19 triumph over Foxboro Thursday at the Ahern
`` Going into the game I thought we could upset them, but I'm a little bit surprised we won going away the way we did . . . This is probably the greatest upset in the history of the series.''
Mansfield, which holds a 37-29-3 edge in the Thanksgiving Day series, improved to 2-7-1 overall and 2-6-0 in the Hockomock League. Foxboro, meanwhile, fell to 7-4 overall, 5-2 in the league.
Foxboro's Mike Grendal (32) attempts to bring down Mansfield's Bruce Burley by the helmet in Thursday's Thanksgiving Day game. Mansfield won 34-19 (Staff photo by Mark Stockwell)
On paper, Mansfield seemed to have little chance at defeating Foxboro. The
Hornets had lost two straight holiday meetings to Foxboro, and entered the contest
with a seven-game losing streak.
`` I think the kids believed in themselves,'' Redding said. `` They really thought they could pull off (the upset). The seniors got the team thinking that way, and the kids believed they could do it.''
The deciding factor was Mansfield's play along the line of scrimmage. The Hornets dominated the Warriors, which held a substantial size advantage, on both sides of the ball.
`` We knew Foxboro was bigger, so we wanted to develop some blocking schemes to use our quickness and speed,'' Redding said. `` And it was just great execution on our part. I don't think I made one correction (blocking-wise) the whole game.''
A pair of sophomores -- Bruce Burley and John Connell -- piloted Mansfield to the upset win. Burley, who was named Mansfield's MVP of the game, scored two touchdowns, while Connell collected 80 yards rushing on 19 carries. Connell also blocked and returned an extra-point attempt for the two-point safety.
`` Burley got better and better as the season went on, and we wanted to find a way to get him more touches,'' Redding said. `` I think you're going to see a lot of Burley and Connell in the backfield next year.''
Burley rushed five times for 71 yards, caught two passes for 30 yards and had a pass interception on defense.
`` This is a great feeling,'' Burley said. `` But I'm just a sophomore, so I'm just glad I could contribute so that the seniors could leave here with pride. That's what it's all about . . . I could not have done this without my teammates.''
Added Redding: `` I'm extremely happy for the seniors. It's been a season where a lot of things didn't go our way, but the kids hung in there.''
Foxboro took an early lead when Dave McDonnell capped a four-play 70-yard scoring drive with a 58-yard touchdown run. Dennis Colwell's point-after left the Warriors with a 7-0 edge with 9:10 left in the first quarter.
McDonnell, a 5-9, 190-pound junior, had a superb game before leaving with an injury in the third quarter. McDonnell rushed 11 times for 108 yards before an unblocked Matt Oldmixon pancaked him for a 3-yard loss in the backfield. A wobbly McDonnell left the field on his own power, but never returned.
Mansfield answered with 6:28 left in the first quarter when Ryan Bonnyman capped a seven-play 58-yard drive with a 1-yard touchdown run. Gary D'Ambra's kick tied the game at 7-7. The key plays on the drive were a 21-yard pickup by Connell and a 15-yard gain by Burley.
Mansfield, behind Adam Bourget's 9-yard sack, forced Foxboro to punt on its next possession.
With 3:01 left in the second, Mansfield gained a 13-7 advantage when Bonnyman scored from one yard out. Bonnyman set up the score with a 39-yard option keeper.
Mansfield's Bill Bradford sacked Foxboro quarterback Tim Callahan for a 6-yard loss on the Warriors' previous drive, allowing Mansfield to set up at midfield after a Foxboro punt.
Mansfield went up 19-7 on the second play of the third quarter when Bonnyman
hit Nate Gill with a 66-yard touchdown pass down the right sideline.
The Warriors tied the game -- only briefly, though -- with 8:55 left in the game when Gary Barrett scored from 13 yards out. Colwell's PAT attempt, however, was blocked and returned 85 yards for a two-point safety by Connell, lifting Mansfield to a 21-19 edge.
The Hornets put the game away on the ensuing drive with an 11-play, 70-yard scoring jaunt. Burley finished the drive with a 4-yard touchdown run. D'Ambra's kick gave the Hornets a 28-19 cushion with 2:56 left in the game. The key plays on the drive were a 15-yard pickup by Bonnyman and a 27-yard Bonnyman-to-Pat McCarthy connection.
While Mansfield was attempting to run out the clock, Burley scored from 38 yards out with 37 seconds left in the game to give Mansfield its final 34-19 bulge.
Coach: Jack Martinelli (18th year, 135-36-5) 1998 5-5
|1st Downs||Rushing yards||Passing yards||Total yards|
Back to contents page