Friday, November 10, 2017

North Attleboro Throttles Duxbury in D3 South Final

By Jake Levin (@JakeLevin477)

NORTH ATTLEBORO — Back-to-back years of playoff frustration at the hands of Duxbury melted away for the North Attleboro Red Rocketeers on Friday night, as they romped the third-seeded Dragons, 35-0, in the Division 3 South title game.

More aptly, North Attleboro (9-1) put a deep freeze on Duxbury (8-2) – temperatures were in the 20s at kickoff – thanks to a prolific running attack and timely passing game.

“We’ve seen them three years in a row now in the playoffs and the first two weren’t really good endings,” North head coach Don Johnson said after the game, which ended Duxbury’s pursuit of a second Super Bowl title in a row. “We had a better feel for them this year I think, and the kids worked hard to get there.”

The Red Rocketeers amassed exactly 200 yards on the ground to firmly establish control of the clock, thereby limiting Duxbury’s chances. Quarterback Chad Peterson (6 for 7, 102 yards, TD) was more than efficient throwing the ball as well, and posed an even greater threat to the Dragons thanks to his legs. Peterson carried the ball 11 times for 40 yards.

“I thought we came out on offense and executed well,” Peterson said. “I thought we executed in all facets of the game tonight.”

Right from the get go North Attleboro’s intentions of establishing the run were clear, as the team ran 12 consecutive running plays after receiving the opening kickoff to tire out the Dragons. Brendan McHugh capped off the opening series with a 4-yard run to put his team on top for the duration at with 4:04 to go in the first quarter.

Duxbury had its yards early, as Joe Gooley had a 13-yard catch followed by a 17-yard run to pick up consecutive first downs for the Dragons before things sputtered out.

Even after allowing the Red Rocketeers to take a 14-0 lead on a 12-yard touchdown pass from Chad Peterson to Jonathan James – a play set up by a 46-yard gain on a streak route from Peterson to Marion Bresko – Duxbury looked like it had every intention of holding in to its Division 3 South crown.

The Dragons converted on four consecutive third downs on the drive en route to the red zone. But there would be no fifth such conversion, as John Roberts’ toss to the end zone wound up intercepted by Bresko for a touchback, allowing North Attleboro to head to the locker room with a 14-0 lead.

“I think they did a great job,” Johnson said of North’s execution offensively. “We’ve thrown the ball a lot this year; Chad Peterson is a great quarterback. We felt we could move the ball against them and to beat them, we felt we had to have good balance. Establishing that run game early really made that difference.”

Duxbury received the second half kickoff and reached into its bag of tricks, running a reverse on second-and-10, but the play backfired for a two-yard loss. The Dragons would ultimately punt, allowing the Red Rocketeers to increase their lead to 21-0 on a McHugh 1-yard plunge 11 plays later.

“That’s all we talked about at halftime, we knew we had to kick to them, so we needed our kickoff team to do a good job and then we needed our defense to get the ball back in the hands of our offense and they did it,” Johnson said of North’s sense of urgency coming out of the break.

McHugh finished as North’s leading runner with 48 yards on 10 carries to go along with his pair of touchdowns.

North Attleboro delivered the dagger to Duxbury just as soon as it got the ball back, as Zach DeMattio goaded Roberts into his second interception of the game and returned the ball 21 yards for a score, making it 28-0 late in the third quarter.

With the starters out, backup quarterback Nicholas Raneri engineered a quick two-play scoring drive to complete scoring for the Red Rocketeers, carrying the ball himself twice for a total of 28 yards. The latter of the two runs went for 17 and a score, pushing North Attleboro over the 30-point mark for the fourth time in the last five games and fifth time overall.

The Red Rocketeers await the winner of the Division 3 North sectional final, which will be either Lynn English (9-0) or Tewksbury (8-1). That game takes place on Saturday at Manning Field in Lynn at 2 p.m.

Duxbury          0 0 0 0 – 0
No. Attleboro 14 0 14 7 – 35

First Quarter Summary

N. Attleboro: Brendan McHugh, 4-yard touchdown run (Geoff Wilson kick)

N. Attleboro: Jonathan James, 12-yard touchdown pass from Chad Peterson (Wilson kick)

Second Quarter Summary
No scoring

Third Quarter Summary

N. Attleboro: Brendan McHugh, 1-yard touchdown run (Wilson kick)

N. Attleboro: Zach DeMattio, 21-yard interception return (Wilson kick)

Fourth Quarter Summary

N. Attleboro: Nicholas Raneri, 17-yard touchdown run (Wilson kick)

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