Friday, November 9, 2018

King Philip Does it Again, Powers Past Mansfield to Win Third Straight Sectional Title

By Matt Feld (@Mattyfeld612)

MANSFIELD -- Brian Lee walked away from the post game huddle in a combined state of bewilderment and amazement. His team had done it again.

Trailing 7-3 entering the fourth quarter, Ryan Halliday and Robert Jarest spearheaded an 11-play, 59-yard drive that resulted in a Jarest one yard touchdown run as No. 3 King Philip won its third straight sectional title with a 10-7 over Hockomock Kelly-Rex league rival Mansfield at Alumni Field.

Despite featuring almost an entirely new roster from the two King Philip (8-2) teams that have claimed Super Bowl titles the last two seasons, the Warriors will be making their third straight trip to Gillette Stadium. They will take on North Andover for the Div. 2 crown.

“I have no idea," said Lee on how his team has managed yet another trip to the Super Bowl. "It’s a very different team but they still have the same theme - keep believing. That’s what hasn’t changed, their work ethic and their belief that they can pull it off.”

On September 29th, Mansfield dealt King Philip (8-2) a heartbreaking defeat, stopping a two-point conversion attempt late in the fourth. For most of Friday night, it looked as though Mansfield would leave their nemesis hanging their heads once more.

But Halliday and Jarest turned the tables in the fourth quarter, embarking the Warriors on one of those signatures drives that has symbolized King Philip's run over the last three seasons. Starting on their own 49-yard line Halliday ran the ball five times, including a two yard pick up on fourth and inches, to move the Warriors down to the Mansfield 36.

Jarest then showed off his legs from under center rushing for a combined 19 yards before completing an 11-yard pass to David Morganelli to move the Warriors down to the goal line. Moments later, Jarest plunged in from a yard out to put King Philip in front, 10-7 with 5:38 left.

"We started just grinding it out," said Jarest. "This was a grind of a game. It's awesome. It's good to be back here."

Mansfield had a chance to win the game on its ensuing drive and worked its way down to the Warriors 42 yard line with 2:20 left. Deric Casado, however, picked off an Aidan Sacco deep ball  at the 17 yard line allowing King Philip to run out the clock.

King Philip's physical defensive unit was terrific over the final three quarters of play allowing just 93 yards of offense. Along with Casado's pick, Aidan Bender recovered a fumble while Jack Webster and Halliday had key TFLs. 

"A lot of people were offended when I said 'we don't have a ton of talent,'" said Lee. "It means though that we don't have one dude. We have a ton of heart and teamwork and use it better than anyone. Everyone can be a hero on a different play. That's just what we are."

Mansfield struck first on its opening drive of the game with Aidan Sacco (8 carries, 58 yards, TD) scrambling for 16 yards on third and 15 to set up his own 16-yard score to put the Hornets on top, 7-0.

The Warriors trimmed the deficit in the second quarter as Cole Baker drilled a 38-yard field goal to pull King Philip within 7-3.

Mansfield had a chance to extend its lead going into the half with a Sacco 20-yard completion to Cincere Gill setting the Hornets up at the 18-yard line with 1:21 remaining in the half.

Two plays later, the Warriors came through with the key defensive play of the day as Halliday forced a fumble that was recovered by Bender to keep King Philip within 7-3 going into the locker room.

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