FRANKLIN — The Mansfield High football team allowed just 36 yards of offense in the first half Friday night as host Franklin High went more than 24 minutes without a first down all while the Hornets scored 26 unanswered points and dominated all three phases en route to a 39-9 Hockomock League victory at Pisini Field.
The Mansfield defense allowed only 158 yards on a rainy night as Franklin could never get usual its passing game going. Cincere Gill, who had two touchdowns, returned a 80-yard kick off for a special teams to put the game away in the third quarter all while the Hornets showcased just far too many weapons on both sides of the ball.
“Number one, we have a very, very good defense,” Mansfield coach Mike Redding said of the Hornets unit, which complemented the offensive scoring with a second-quarter safety. “We got enough athletes to match up. And they’re (Franklin) as athletic a team as (we’re) going to play, but fortunately we’re pretty loaded in the secondary. So a combination of us playing great ‘D’ and terrible weather conditions for them.
“We took advantage when we had the wind and kind of put it away before the fourth quarter when they finally got it back,” Redding added.
Mansfield put the game away early with a 19-3 lead at the half by scoring 19 points in the second quarter. Mansfield scored nine points in the final 1:48 of the second quarter on a safety and a scoring strike from quarterback Jack Moussette to Gill.
Gill unleashed a 46-yard punt to pin Franklin back at its 1-yard line. The Hornets benefited from a bad Franklin snap two plays later to stretch their lead to 12-3. On the ensuing possession after a Franklin punt, Moussette led a seven-play drive before finding Gill in a favorable one-on-one match-up in the corner of the end zone. The pass went for 12 yards and was the offense’s second of the game.
“We did a lot of good things keeping them at a healthy distance to keep the lead,” Redding said.
Gill’s 80-yard return was perhaps more impressive as it immediately followed Franklin’s lone touchdown of the game. On the scoring drive, Franklin recorded its first first-down in more than 24 minutes stretching from middle of the first quarter to 4:37 left in the third.
After Franklin took a 3-0 lead on its first possession of the game, the Hornets forced the Panthers into five consecutive three-and-outs and the safety. Defensive end T.J. Guy was consistently in the backfield along with teammates Chris Graham, Tom McCoy and Sam DeGirolamo while Vinnie Holmes and Nick Marciano also contributed for the stout defense.
Marciano (four rushes, 46 yards) contributed a 35-yard touchdown run in the second quarter to cap a five-play, 51 yard drive. Gill’s touchdown from Moussette capped a seven-play, 41 yard drive. Vinnie Holmes (11 carries, 59 yards) scored the first touchdown of the third quarter, a 21-yard run, to cap a four-play, 50 yard touchdown before Gill’s 80-yard return. And Ethan Thevenot (three carries, 71 yards) came off the bench to score a 65-yard touchdown on a one-play drive.
Mansfield (4-1) will host Oliver Ames on Friday.