Mansfield roars past L-S to eighth state football crownBy PETER GOBIS
FOXBORO - The Mansfield High football team played its best four quarters of football when it counted the most - in the MIAA Division 2 Super Bowl.
Scoring on three of their four first-half possessions, intercepting a trio of passes and riding the 149-yard, three-TD performance of senior Vinnie Holmes, the Hornets took home a convincing 41-0 conquest of Lincoln-Sud-bury High Friday night at Gillette Stadium.
The Hornets could not have choreographed their script better, taking a commanding 21-0 halftime lead by limiting the Division 2 North champion Warriors to five plays and three net yards in the first quarter while allowing the Warriors past midfield just twice on their first six offensive series.
With coach Mike Redding engineering the Hornets' eighth Super Bowl championship in 11 visits to the title tilt, Mansfield added to his previous state crowns in this century of 2019, 2013, 2010, 2004 and 2003.
"Talent will win you a lot of games, Mansfield coach but it was character and leadership that got us this Super Bowl championship," Redding said of the Hornets' 11th win of the season and their 10th straight victory. "We played our best game of the year in the state championship. You can't ask for anything more."
For the eighth time this season, the Hornets limited their opponent to one TD or less in a game as they built a 21-0 advantage by halftime, owing to the ineptitude of the Lincoln-Sudbury passing game (1-for-9 for minus-5 yards, two interceptions) and the ability to turn two of those takeaways into points.
"We played great on offense, throwing and running the ball," Redding said of the 358 net yards generated by the Hornets, 260 of which came on the ground.
It might have been even more because a dozen games into the season, the Hornets were still commit-ting careless penalties with false starts and defensive encroachment, totaling eight flags for 50 yards, including a roughing the passer penalty on a third down Warrior pass well over the head of the intend-ed receiver.
The Hornets drove 52, 48 and 80 yards for touchdowns, scoring on three consecutive series, and crossing midfield on all four of their offensive series in the first half.
Mike DeBolt's interception at the Hornet 48-yard line ignited Mansfield's go-ahead TD while Nick Bertolino's interception in the Hornet end zone initiated the Hornets' third TD of the first half, with Holmes scoring from four yards out with 67 seconds left and DeBolt hitting his third conversion kick.
"I thought that if we didn't turn it over and avoid penalties, we could pull away," Redding said. "We still had our normal penalty issue, but we got some turnovers. That was the difference.
A 36-yard romp by Marciano down the left side to the L-S 10-yard set up Mansfield's first TD on a well-orchestrated 14-yard pass from senior quarter-back Jack Moussette over the middle to uncovered tight end Everett Knowlton in the end zone.
After forcing L-S to three downs and out on the Warriors' next series, the Hornets were back in business putting points up on the scoreboard.
Moussette teamed up with Cincere Gill on a 31-yard pass, with the fleet-footed Hornet junior easily beating L-S single defensive coverage and advancing the ball to the Warriors' 4-yard line.
Two plays later, Marciano, the Hornets' senior captain, scored from three yards out from a wildcat formation.
L-S' second interception gave Mansfield hope for more points with 2:57 left before halftime. Moussette (six-for-eight passing, 98 yards) combined with DeBolt, once again beating single defensive coverage, for a 49-yard gain to the L-S 18-yard line.
"It's awesome to come out here and dominate," said Holmes, the Hornets' running back, who amassed 61 yards by halftime. "To get our first shutout of the season too, what a feeling. We knew we had the capability to do it. We just executed to the maximum in all phases."
Three plays later, Marciano behind a monster block by senior left tackle Jason Comeau found plenty of room to find the end zone from four yards out.
Mansfield ended any thoughts of a Lincoln-Sudbury comeback by scoring on its first two series of the second half, taking a 34-0 lead into the fourth quarter where the MIAA mandated running time was allowed in the rout.
"We saw what they did in the South bracket, they pretty much destroyed every team," L-S coach Jim Girard said of the Hornets. "We were hoping to be more competitive than we were. They have some ex-plosive kids and run hard.
"We knew what they were, an outstanding football team. They were big and strong, but we hung with their physicality. The key momentum swing was that interception (by Bertolino) in the end zone. Maybe it's 14-7 at the half and we're getting the ball to start the second half."
The Hornets avoided scares like a botched six-yard punt on their first series and allowing L-S running back Jack Malone a 54-yard run in the second quarter to the Mansfield 7-yard line.
"There were moments where we could have let them back in, but again with our defense, we kept saying, they're not going to get it in," Redding said. "Our defense toughens up and gets aggressive when it's that close. We knew that we would make them work."
The Hornets needed just two plays to travel 44 yards for their fourth TD of the game, a 16-yard bolt by Holmes.
The Hornets needed just six plays to travel 81 yards for TD No. 5 - 72 of which came on a burst of speed up the middle by Holmes, sprung loose by a huge hole created by 245-pound senior center Noah Jellenik.
The Hornets then made it six visits to the L-S end zone in seven tries, traveling 46 yards on nine plays, with senior Ethan Thevenot scoring from five yards out with just under three minutes left.
"These guys were ready to go," Redding said of the Hornets' run-pass mix. "We took our shots. We had some matchups we liked, we had them one-on-one and we got the running going.
"It was a great way to end the season. What we hoped they could do all year, they did it all to-night."
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