ATTLEBORO — It did not matter where the Mansfield High football team started its offensive drives during the first half of Saturday’s game against Attleboro High at Tozier-Cassidy Field.
The Hornets covered 66 yards in two plays on their first drive, 77 yards in two plays on their third possession, 45 yards in five plays on their fourth possession and 22 yards in two plays on their fifth possession. All told, the explosive Hornets scored 38 first-half points en route to a dominating 46-7 Hockomock League victory over the Bombardiers.
The Hornets (6-1), who earned the No. 2 seed in Division 2 South, finished their Massachusetts slate unbeaten and claimed their second straight Hockomock League Kelley-Rex Division title.
“It’s explosive, they’re explosive,” Attleboro coach Mike Strachan said of the Hornets, who tallied 285 yards of offense (218 rushing) through the opening 24 minutes. “They’re well-oiled right now and there’s no doubt they’re going to go deep (in the playoffs).”
Junior running back Cincere Gill and senior captain Nick Marciano each totaled two touchdowns in the contest while Vinnie Holmes and Michael DeBolt each scored one of their own. Mansfield held a 339-148 advantage in yards of total offense as the Hornets compiled 257 on the ground for an average of 12-plus yards per rush in the game.
“We came in and we were going to try to get Nick (Marciano) the ball more and we ran out of plays to do it,” Redding said as Mansfield scored 38 first-half points on just 22 first-half plays. “Just scoring fast, getting guys in the open field. It’s a good problem.
“I think we got our act together this week. We had a great week of practice and the kids knew Attleboro was big and physical. That was our challenge all week was we got speed, but we have to match their toughness, their physicality. I thought we did,” Redding said.
Gill scored his first of two rushing touchdowns on the second play of the game. He took a pitch to the right side and ran for 59 yards to give Mansfield a 7-0 lead.
Attleboro, however, responded. Senior quarterback Jason Weir orchestrated a seven-play, 68-yard drive, connecting with receiver Ethan Cameron three times for 52 yards on the possession. Cameron was on the receiving end of Weir’s 15-yard touchdown pass, the lone score for the Bombardiers.
From there on, it was all Mansfield. The Hornets scored points, including four touchdowns, on their next five possessions with two touchdowns to Marciano. Marciano took a counter play 69 yards on a two-play, 71-yard drive, just two plays after Vinnie Holmes had a 62-yard touchdown called back due to one of Mansfield’s nine penalties.
On the next Mansfield possession, Gill logged a 30-yard touchdown run to cap a five-play, 45-yard drive. Mansfield quarterback Jack Moussette found Danny Rapoza for a gain of 14 yards to move the chains on third-and-11 two plays earlier.
Following a crushing sack by Mansfield’s TJ Guy and 17-yard punt return by DeBolt, the Hornets started with the ball on the Attleboro 22 yard line. They scored two plays later as Moussette found Marciano on a 16-yard strike.
On Mansfield’s next drive, following a tackle for loss by DeBolt, the Hornets’ offense had the ball again at the Attleboro 30-yard line. Two plays later, DeBolt took a handoff up the middle for a 10-yard touchdown.
DeBolt wrapped up the first half by booting a 41-yard field goal to give the Hornets a commanding 38-7 lead at the half.
Holmes made up for the early touchdown that was called back on the Hornets’ second offensive play of the second half. He took a handoff up the sideline for a 47-yard touchdown.
The Mansfield defense forced three turnovers with a pair of fumble recoveries (Nico Homes, Shane Downey) and a fourth-quarter interception by Jack Rivard.
The Hornets will host Marshfield on Friday while Attleboro will travel to Franklin for the first round of the MIAA South Sectional tournaments.