STOUGHTON, Mass. -– Stoughton head coach Greg Burke has been saying it for a long time, and this year, his team is following through.
Play better than last week.
The Black Knights (5-0) remained unbeaten and again dominated on defense to knock down Foxborough, 20-0, in their first game since losing teammate David Wade less than a week ago.
Only one of the two teams on Anthony L. Sarno Field had a repeat performance from last week. Stoughton, who beat up on Mansfield in the rain last Friday 25-6, put on an encore performance with a relentless running attack and a bend-but-don’t-break defense.
Fresh off a shocking 21-0 upset of North Attleborough, Foxborough (3-2) failed to put any points on the board, despite the majority of its drives entering Stoughton territory.
Minutes after a moment of silence to honor Wade, who wore No. 56, the Black Knights took their opening drive 53 yards on just four plays, as senior Marcus Middleton took a sweep to the left for a 40-yard score.
“We don’t look like much,” Burke said. “We don’t have a lot of size, but we have some tough kids. They’re unbelievable.”
The Black Knight defense, which now only averages 5.2 points against a game with two shutouts, set the tone early with a big third down stop on Foxborough star running back Kiivone Howard.
As both teams traded possessions through the first half, it looked as though the Warriors caught a big break with less than two minutes to go.
On a first and goal from seven yards out, Stoughton’s Aaron Mack carried to the right before being hit hard, forcing a fumble at the one-yard line, which Foxborough recovered.
As the Warriors tried to run the ball out of the end zone, they kept hitting a wall and were faced with 3rd down from their own 1. As quarterback Mike Slaby rolled out to the left, Stoughton senior Imani Pina punched the ball out. The ball fumbled around the goal line and then finally someone came jumping out of the pile with possession.
The senior scored with just 13 ticks left in the first half and gave Stoughton another boost before halftime.
“Pretty much all week we worked on [that play],” Pina said. “I saw the [quarterback] pull the ball so I stepped out of the box and just made a play. I tried to punch it out and it came out. I saw it on the ground and I picked it up.”
In the second half, the Warriors were able to reach the Stoughton 10-yard line on two occasions, only for their offense to be thwarted on both occasions.
On their first try, a trick play gone wrong cost them 15 yards and their fourth down play went incomplete.
Two Stoughton drives and one play later, Stoughton quarterback Dan Eckler caught the Foxboro defense napping and found a wide open Middleton for a 67-yard touchdown pass. The extra point was no-good, but Stoughton went up 20-0 in the final frame.
On Foxborough’s second attempt from Stoughton’s 10, a drive that had gone 52 yards on eight plays, back up quarterback Nolan Rogers’ (in for the injured Slaby) pass was picked off by Pina and Stoughton sealed the game.
Foxborough’s running back came into the game with a league-leading 12 rushing touchdowns, having scored 3 in each game thus far.
Stoughton consistently loaded the box with 8 or 9 guys and dared Foxborough to throw. Howard still found success, carrying the ball 24 times for 109 yards. He had could have had more, but the tough Stoughton defense was able to exploit some plays for big losses.
“It’s [frustrating],” Foxborough head coach Jack Martinelli said. “We were on the field defensively too long. You have to answer, and we didn’t. Simple as that.”