Playing with Heavy Hearts, Stoughton High Football Blanks Foxborough in First Division Contest of Season
The Stoughton High football team (5-0), playing in memory of teammate David Wade, a senior who tragically died on Sept. 29, came away with a 20-0 win over Foxborough (3-2), Friday night in Stoughton.
Photos in the media gallery by Justin Braga
Foxborough running back Kiivone Howard had three touchdowns in every game so far this season, for a total of 12 scores in four contests.
That trend stopped Friday night.
While Howard picked up more than 100-yards on the ground against Stoughton, he was kept out of the end zone, as was the rest of the Foxborough team, with the Black Knights shutting out the Warriors.
The Stoughton High football team's 20-0 win capped an emotional week for the Black Knights. Senior lineman David Wade, 17, died last Saturday, Sept. 29 after being accidentally shot. Just eight hours prior to the start of Friday's game, Wade's teammates attended his funeral.
But thanks to jumping out to an early lead and coming up with some key plays on defense, Stoughton was able to win one in memory of Wade.
With the victory, Stoughton improves to 5-0, while Foxborough falls to 3-2. More importantly, this was the first Hockomock League Davenport Division game of the season for both teams so Stoughton gains an early edge in the Davenport standings. The winner of the Davenport advances to the postseason.
"We've played better every week...that's our goal," Stoughton coach Greg Burke said after the game. "We don't look like much. We don't have a lot of size, but we've got some tough kids."
"They were pretty hungry and they're pretty talented," Foxborough coach Jack Martinelli said of Stoughton. "They did a great job from start to finish in all phases of the game."
Stoughton got the ball first and four plays into the opening drive, Marcus Middleton broke a 40-yard touchdown run along the Stoughton sideline. The extra point gave the Black Knights a 7-0 lead just 1:40 into the game.
"It's a big momentum swing," captain Adam Leonard said of the fast start. "We got the whole crowd behind us...and we felt like we were playing with Dave, Dave was out there; he was behind us."
Fellow captain Mike Connelly added: "The defense comes out on the field and they know they're working with the lead. That's huge."
Foxborough was able to move the ball on the Stoughton defense - getting into the red zone on three occasions, but the Warriors came up empty each time.
"You have to put some points on the board. You have to answer and we didn't. It's as simple as that," Martinelli said.
On the Foxborough's second drive, runs by Howard and Luc Valenza helped advance the ball to the Stoughton 7, but the drive stalled there. Stoughton forced quarterback Mike Slaby to throw incompletions on third and fourth down, with Foxborough turning the ball over on downs.
On the third play of the ensuing Stoughton drive, Middleton had an 87-yard touchdown run called back due to a block in the back penalty. Instead, Middleton gained only 17, but Stoughton kept driving. Middleton added a 36-yard run later in the drive and Frankie Morris converted a 4th and 3 run in the Foxborough red zone.
But the drive came to an abrupt end at the goal line when Aaron Mack fumbled as he was fighting to get into the end zone. Foxborough's Brendan Lovely recovered and the Warriors took over at their own 1-yard line with 1:13 left in the half.
After Slaby and Howard barely escaping being tackled in their own end zone, Foxborough faced a 3rd down from the 1-yard line. Joey Wilder flushed Slaby out of the pocket and Imani Pina tackled Slaby, forced a fumble, and later recovered it in the end zone for a Stoughton touchdown. The extra point gave Stoughton a 14-0 lead at the half.
Foxborough punted on its first drive of the second half, but Morris fumbled on Stoughton's first possession, giving the Warriors the ball at the Black Knight 31. Foxborough advanced to the 10, setting up a goal-to-go situation. On second down, Howard looked to be setting himself up to attempt a halfback pass, but Matthew Mack tackled him 14-yards behind the line of scrimmage.
With the ball now at the 24, Foxborough quarterback Nolan Rogers (who replaced an injured Slaby) threw incompletions on third and fourth down, with the Warriors turning the ball over on downs.
At the start of the fourth Stoughton still had a 14-0 lead, but once again, Foxborough was driving. Three Howard runs helped get Foxborough into Stoughton territory. But the drive stalled and Foxborough punted. On the ensuing Stoughton drive, quarterback Dan Eckler hit Middleton for a 67-yard touchdown pass on the first play. The extra point failed, but Stoughton took a 20-0 lead with 8:09 left in the game.
Needing three scores in 8 minutes, Foxborough advanced the ball to Stoughton's 10, but on a 3rd and 3 play, Pina came up with the interception. Stoughton got the ball back with 4:30 left and ran out the clock.
"Our defense really stepped up," captain Aaron Mack said. "Foxborough came in and they were supposed to have one of the high-powered offenses. Howard as their running back is one of the best in the Hockomock, but our team came through and our game plan - it worked tonight."
Middleton had 95 yards on the ground on just four carries. Morris had 81 yards, while Malachi Baugh added 35 and Aaron Mack added 13 rushing and 13 receiving.
"We came through this week with heavy hearts," Aaron Mack said. "Tonight was a big win for us - a big momentum builder. You can only build off this game because we had a lot of mistakes; I had a lot of mistakes personally...fumbles, missed tackles, but we can always take steps forward."
"This is a great win for our division but I don't want to stop there," Leonard said. "I want to win the Hockomock League, not just the Davenport."
Stoughton travels to North Attleboro (3-2) next Friday, while Foxborough hosts Attleboro (4-1) the same night.
Josh Brown contributed reporting. Suzanne Jolley contributed photos.