MANSFIELD — Inactive for two weeks and away from Alumni Field for nearly a month, the Mansfield High football team displayed no shortcomings on either offense or defense in routing Taunton High 31-6 Friday in their Hockomock League game.
The Hornets scored on their first four offensive series, driving 66, 36 and 56 yards for three touchdowns, while senior captain and running back Mike DeBolt personally accounted for 18 points, including a 35-yard field goal.
On the other half of the field, the Hornet defense was so staunch that Taunton never advanced beyond Mansfield’s 49-yard line on four series in the first half as the Tigers were dealt a trio of QB sacks overall and completed just three passes.
“They’re excellent, all of their players,” Taunton coach Brad Sidwell said of the Hornets, who owned a 24-0 lead by halftime and only a final-second TD against the Mansfield reserves prevented a shutout.
“They’re well-coached, we couldn’t get much going on offense,” Sidwell added after 14 of the Tigers’ 22 rushes were for gains of three yards or less, while netting just 10 yards through the air.
Hornets’ 6-foot-4, 245-pound two-way tackle T.J. Guy imposed his will defensively upon Taunton, creating a pair of first-half sacks resulting in losses of nine and seven yards, respectively, while senior linebacker Joe Plath had another sack for 11 yards.
Plath’s sack ended the Tigers’ second offensive set and created total domination for the Hornets for the rest of the half. The Tigers were unable to convert a third down due to a bad snap and Mansfield regained possession of the ball at its own 44-yard line.
One snap from senior center Noah Jellenik and one handoff from senior quarterback Jack Moussette later, senior captain Nick Marciano bolted 56 yards on the very first play for the Hornets around the right corner, untouched, for Mansfield’s third TD.
And Guy’s first QB sack allowed the Hornets to regain possession of the ball at their own 42-yard line to begin a fourth offensive set. Junior running back Cicere Gill (57 first half yards before a bruised shoulder sent him to the sidelines) rambled three times for 27 yards to set up DeBolt’s field goal.
“The defense was good the whole night,” Mansfield High coach Mike Redding commented. “Offense we jumped to the lead and then you get a little conservative (69 net offensive yards during the second half), but we did well early.
“We wanted to throw a lot more early, we haven’t been throwing on first and 10, we wanted to throw the ball downfield — we just didn’t catch the ball downfield, having a couple of TD passes dropped.”
An 11-yard pass reception by Gill and his 27-yard bolt to the Taunton 28-yard line set up Mansfield’s first score — a burst of power by DeBolt with the left side of the Hornet line, guard Jake McCoy and Guy creating space.
A 15-yard Tiger punt to end Taunton’s first offensive series presented Mansfield with prime field position at the Tiger 36 yard line to begin a second series. Moussette completed passes to Dan Rapoza (seven yards) and Nick Marciano (16 yards) to set up DeBolt’s second TD, from seven yards out with senior right tackle Jason Comeau offering an escort.
“This was a good game for us, coming back and we had to play into the fourth quarter (at 24-0 lead) before we got that last score,” Redding added. “The level of plays jumps up significantly the next two weeks, two great opponents,” Redding said of Hockomock League games on the road at King Philip and Franklin.