Saturday, October 28, 2017

Mansfield Rolls Marshfield in Crucial 4/5 D2 South Matchup

By Jake Levin (@JakeLevin477)

MANSFIELD--For three consecutive postseasons, the Marshfield Rams played the thorn in the side of the Mansfield Hornets.

Marshfield blew out Mansfield in both the 2014 and 2015 postseasons and managed to squeak by in a third straight playoff game a year ago. But the Rams’ run of dominance over the Hornets is a thing of the past as Mansfield can turn its attention to another longtime nemesis next week after a 34-14 dismantling of Marshfield on Friday night.

“It’s been a tough run against those guys, sooner or later we had to get them,” Hornets head coach Michael Redding said after the game. “This was much closer than the score indicated.”

The Hornets, the No. 4 seed in the Division 2 South bracket, will get a second crack at Hockomock League rival/top-seeded King Philip in next week’s semifinals.

Mansfield took control of the game in the second half on Nick Marciano’s 69-yard interception return for a touchdown to make it 20-7 in favor of the Hornets with 9:34 to go in the third quarter..

Not only did Marciano’s pick-six make it a two-score game, it demoralized Marshfield’s offense and sent it into a tailspin from which it couldn’t recover. The Rams picked up just three more first downs in the game, all of which came after the deficit had reached 34-7.

“I was just trying to keep my team in it,” Marciano said of his play. “We had a three-year losing streak to them in the playoffs, I just thought we had to put it to an end. One big play can change it.”

Marshfield’s next four drives consisted of two punts and two turnovers on downs, during which time Mansfield put the game away via a Vinnie Holmes 13-yard touchdown run with 9:18 to go in the fourth quarter and a Michael DeBolt 6-yard touchdown run to put the icing on the cake with 3:42 remaining.

Holmes finished as the leading rusher for the Hornets, with 67 yards on 10 carries. He was spelled by Dan DeGirolamo, who carried the ball nine times for 65 yards -- 50 of which came on one run in the second quarter.

Mansfield never trailed, scoring on the game’s opening possession with a six-play, 69-yard touchdown drive capped off with a Damani Scott 6-yard touchdown pass to Hunter Ferreira. The Hornets converted each of their third downs on the drive, the first a 56-yard screen pass from Scott to Kristian Conner and the latter the scoring play.

After the Rams and Hornets exchanged three-and-outs, Marshfield had an 18-play, 66-yard drive stall out at the Mansfield 8-yard line. The Rams committed four penalties on the drive, the last of which was an intentional grounding called on quarterback Jackson Phinney to give the ball back to the Hornets.

Mansfield went up 14-0 with less than a minute to go in the first half after Philip Dinov’s blocked punt created favorable field position for the Hornets. Mansfield took over at the Marshfield 23 before facing a third-and-11, only for Holmes to bail it out with a 20-yard run to set up the first of his two touchdown runs just one play later.

The Rams got the ball back at their own 37 with 32 seconds left in the half. The odds stacked against a score, Phinney completed four straight passes of 23, 10, 16 and 14 yards to get Marshfield on to the scoreboard with a strike to Danny Hickey as time expired.

The Rams received the ball to begin the second half kickoff, but Marciano’s big play halted any and all Marshfield momentum.

“It felt like a little air came out of our sails, and the pick-six kind of got it back in our favor,” Redding said.

Barring any changes at the 11th hour, it was the final playoff game in the legendary career of Marshfield head coach Lou Silva. After five Super Bowl titles over the course of 37 seasons, Silva said he felt disappointed but added he wished nothing but the best for Mansfield the rest of the way.

“I wished them good luck all the way,” Silva said.

“We just couldn’t get things going,” Silva said of the game itself, specifically the offense.. “We just couldn’t get things going. It was a missed block here, a missed block here, a dropped pass there. We just didn’t get it going. It was one of those games where it was like we were running up hill the whole time.”

No. 4 Mansfield will travel to Wrentham to face No. 1 King Philip next weekend in a rematch of the team’s game on Sept. 28. The Warriors erased a 10-0 deficit to breeze past the Hornets 28-10. Including tonight’s 35-20 win over No. 8 Barnstable, King Philip has won 21 games in a row.

Scoring Summary

Marshfield 0 7 0 7 -- 14
Mansfield 7 7 6 14 -- 34

First Quarter

Mansfield: Hunter Ferreira, 6-yard touchdown pass from Damani Scott (Michael DeBolt kick)

Second Quarter

Mansfield: Vinnie Holmes, 3-yard touchdown run (Michael DeBolt kick)

Marshfield: Danny Hickey, 14-yard touchdown pass from Jackson Phinney (Danny Hickey kick)

Third Quarter

Mansfield: Nick Marciano, 69-yard interception return touchdown (kick failed)

Fourth Quarter

Mansfield: Vinnie Holmes, 13-yard touchdown run (Michael DeBolt kick)

Mansfield: Michael DeBolt, 6-yard touchdown run (Michael DeBolt kick)

Marshfield: Nick Banks, 31-yard touchdown pass from Jackson Phinney (Danny Hickey kick)

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