- Scott Barboza, ESPN Staff Writer
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MANSFIELD, Mass. – For a time, Mansfield’s second-stringers lined up against Barnstable’s first-teamers in the fourth quarter of Friday night’s game.
Then, what Hornets head coach Mike Redding aptly called “a playoff game with no implications” turned into exactly that after the Red Raiders put up 17 unanswered fourth-quarter points to tie the game 27-27.
In the end, No. 11 Mansfield survived with a 34-33 victory in overtime, running their record to 7-1. It was more of the usual from perhaps the state’s most entertaining team.
“Well, we hadn’t done overtime yet this season,” Redding commented on the Hornets’ rash of close shaves this year. “It’s always something.”
The Hornets held a three-score lead as late as the three minute mark of the fourth quarter.
But Barnstable junior quarterback Nick Peabody engineered two quick touchdown drives, both culminating in passing scores to Tedaro France. After Terrence Mudie’s recovery of an on-side kick, the Red Raiders (4-4) moved the ball down the field once more, setting up Tom Mullen’s 26-yard field goal, tying the game with 31 seconds remaining.
Peabody kept the momentum rolling into overtime, punching in a 10-yard touchdown on the first play of the extra session. Playing for the win, Peabody rolled right on a bootleg on the ensuing 2-point try, but Mansfield defensive back Matt Barsomian batted down the pass.
“In our minds, they had missed the two PATs early, so we thought they were going for two anyway,” Barnstable head coach Chris Whidden said of the decision to go for two. “We thought our best chance to win was to go for two, but they made a play.”
Greg Donahue scored on a 5-yard run to tie the score once again and Matt Bukuras chipped in the point-after try for the win.
“The good thing is that we found a way to hang in there and win in the end,” Redding said. “The bad is all those little things that let them hang around and come back and haunt you.”
TWO TEAMS LOOKING AHEAD
No doubt both sides played their hardest, but both sides realized there’s more to the season than the non-league matchup. So Friday’s battle could serve well for both teams chances as they face critical league challenges in the coming weeks.
Barnstable, for one, has a penultimate Old Colony League contest with No. 3 Bridgewater-Raynham next week. And Mansfield hopes to close out a Hockomock large division title with two more victories.
“We wanted to get our kids out and gear up for Franklin and North [Attleborough],” Redding said, “but that backfired.”
Nonetheless, Barnstable can take with it the confidence of hanging with one of the state’s premiere programs year after year while building confidence in Peabody, who’s filled in admirably in D.J. Crook’s absence. After a slow start in the first half, when Barnstable had just 18 offensive snaps, Peabody was able to move the chains when it counted most.
“He’s proved that he’s a high quality quarterback,” Whidden said of Peabody. “That’s one position that we knew, coming into the year, that we had a lot of depth. But we just weren’t aware how good he could be and we didn’t realize we were going to have to use him.”
VIVE LA FRANCE
Whether its Theo France in the running game or Tedaro France streaking down field to snatch a pass, the Red Raider brothers pose matchup problems for opposing defenses.
On Friday night, it was the younger France stealing the show.
“Tedaro’s a playmaker and he wants the ball in his hands,” Whidden said. “He’s proven that he’s a kid that we have to find a way to get the ball into his hands. Nick [Peabody] was a receiver before he became our quarterback, so he developed the rapport before he played that position and know it’s paid off.”
GUTTING IT OUT
Although they had problems containing the Hornets rushing duo of Donahue and Blayne Taylor at times, the Red Raider defense made some significant plays down the stretch that shouldn’t be ignored.
Defensive lineman Jason Freih (2 sacks) was a disruptive force throughout and recovered a fumble that set up Barnstable’s second touchdown of the fourth quarter.
Barnstable (4-4)037176 -- 33
Mansfield (7-1)66877 -- 34
M - Greg Donahue 2-yard run (kick failed)
B - Tom Mullen 25-yard field goal
M - Mike Blackman 11-yard pass from George Busharis (kick failed)
M - Zach Schafer 22-yard pass from Busharis (Dan Gilmore pass from George Busharis)
B - Hayden Murphy 23-yard run (Mullen kick)
M - Mike Farrell 6-yard run (Matt Bukuras kick)
B - Tedaro France 49-yard pass from Nick Peabody (Mullen kick)
B - Tedaro France 28-yard pass from Peabody (Mullen kick)
B - Mullen 26-yard field goal
B - Peabody 10-yard run (pass failed)
M - Donahue 5-yard run (Matt Bukuras kick)