In a game pairing two teams fighting for their playoff lives, something was going to have to give. Luckily for the , it wasn’t their defense.
The Black Knights came up with a key fourth-quarter, fourth-down stop, securing a win over the Foxboro Warriors, 21-13, Friday night at .
Stoughton improves to 5-4 overall and 2-0 in the Hockomock League’s , while the Warriors fall to 4-5 and 1-2 in the Davenport, all but eliminating them from playoff contention.
With Stoughton up 21-6, Foxboro drove 62 yards in a little more than two minutes before punching it in on quarterback Nick Sestito’s one-yard keeper with 2:57 left in the game.
The Warriors forced Stoughton to go three-and-out on their next drive, setting up their offense for a chance to tie the game.
But, on a fourth-and-six from Stoughton’s 31-yard line with 53 seconds left, Sestito scrambled and as he attempted to leap for the first down, Stoughton junior Andrew Kelley landed a crushing blow, forcing a fumble and sealing the game for the Black Knights.
The big stop wasn’t Stoughton’s only big defensive play on the evening. Senior Alex Kimball intercepted Sestito in the first quarter and returned it 21 yards for a touchdown to put Stoughton up 14-0.
“We had been scouting them all week that they liked to run the bubble pass out of the shotgun,” Kimball said.
“I was keying in on that, watching the back. I saw him swing out and saw the quarterback’s eyes go to the back, so I took a few steps to drop back, jumped up, caught it—pretty luckily—turned around and I was just off. I had one guy to beat, and I just barely beat him inside the corner of the end zone.”
After , Stoughton head coach Greg Burke knew the importance of this win.
“It’s huge for us,” he said. “It’s enormous. We’re 2-0 in the league and that’s what matters.”
Burke said his team left some opportunities out on the field, but at this point in the season, he’ll take the victory.
“At least we got the ‘w’ and I thought we deserved to win,” he said.
“That was as [big] of a game as we’ve played in a couple years.”
On the other hand, Foxboro head coach Jack Martinelli seemed at a loss for words after seeing his team’s comeback effort fall short.
“It was a hard-fought game,” Martinelli said. “Both teams played hard from start to finish.”
Stoughton struck first in the first quarter on their second drive of the game.
After going three-and-out to start, the Black Knights strung together 10 plays, the last of which was a 27-yard touchdown run by Aaron Mack on fourth-and-one with 2:13 left in the first quarter.
“He’s a phenomenal runner,” said junior Marcus Middleton. “He’s strong, he’s fast, he hits the holes hard. When we need a couple yards here and there, we give it to him.”
Just 53 seconds after Mack scored, Kimball had his interception return for a touchdown.
The Black Knights capped their scoring with a five-yard run from Middleton with 5:10 left to go in the game. The play right before it, however, was what set it all up. Facing third-and-five from their own 45, Calixte found Middleton for a 50-yard completion.
“I know Marcus is a playmaker,” said Calixte, who started his second straight game at quarterback. “I know I can throw it to him and he can make plays.”
The 21 points Stoughton scored is more than their two previous games combined (14). On the other side of the ball, the Black Knight defense kept the Warriors attack at bay for most of the game, only allowing two first downs in the first half.
“They did a good job defensively in the first half I thought,” Martinelli said. “They played well.”
Foxboro’s first score came with 27 seconds left in the third quarter, as senior captain Jeff McPherson scored from 1-yard out to cut Stoughton’s lead at the time to 14-6.
Foxboro started the drive in Stoughton territory thanks to a muffed snap on a Stoughton punt attempt. The Warriors took advantage of the short field and scored the touchdown, but the extra point was blocked.
The teams traded fourth quarter touchdowns to account for the final score.
Foxboro hosts Sharon next Friday, Nov. 11.
Meanwhile, Stoughton will host Oliver Ames on that same night, in a game that will likely determine the Davenport champion and one of the two Hockomock representatives in the playoffs.
“We never get cocky,” Burke said. “We have to work harder next week than we did this week to win next week. That’s how it works.”
“We’re really confident but we know we can’t get overconfident,” Kimball said. “We have to win these next two games. They’re really important. We want a playoff berth—that’s our ultimate goal. So we’re going to take it week by week.”
“We have to focus on coming out and getting that W,” Middleton added. “We can’t focus on the past. We have to have a hard week of practice.”
Stoughton Patch editor Jeffrey Pickette contributed reporting.