Last week in the against Holliston, the negated big plays with costly turnovers.
So, Friday night against Somerset-Berkley, the Black Knights instead followed big plays with even bigger ones, and as a result, Stoughton routed the Raiders 34-7, improving to 1-1 on the season.
Stoughton out muscled, out finessed and out played Somerset-Berkley on both sides of the ball, and on special teams.
The Black Knights scored touchdowns on their first four possessions in the first half, building a 27-0 lead in the process. Meanwhile, the Raiders turned the ball over on downs three times and fumbled a kickoff over the same span.
“I’m happy with the way the kids hung in there,” Stoughton coach Greg Burke said. “We’re getting better; we’re certainly not there yet, but I’d say it’s a good start for us and the kids. We feel good after a hard week [of practice].”
Stoughton scored first on a 34-yard touchdown pass from senior Alex Fernandes to junior Marcus Middleton less than three minutes into the game. It was the first of three touchdowns on the evening for Middleton.
“I felt like after our first touchdown it just got our confidence up from last game,” Middleton said.
Middleton scored again on a 2-yard run to put Stoughton up 14-0 with 1:04 left in the opening quarter. Junior Aaron Mack and Middleton had runs of 20 and 26 yards respectively earlier on the drive to put Stoughton at the Somerset-Berkley 5-yard line.
Already up two scores, Stoughton put the game out of reach over the next three possessions.
With Somerset-Berkley at the Stoughton 15-yard line and threatening, senior Kevin Richard came up with a sack to push the Raiders back. Later on the Somerset-Berkley drive, facing a fourth and 20 situation, the Raiders went for it and came up short.
Stoughton took over at their own 12-yard line. But, they wouldn’t stay there for long.
Aaron Mack broke an 88-yard touchdown run up the right sideline to put the Black Knights ahead 21-0 with 5:54 left in the second quarter.
“It was a perfectly executed play,” Mack said of the long run. “I read my blockers perfectly. The whole team, the line, myself…we all worked together.”
Somerset-Berkley then fumbled the ensuing kickoff, with Stoughton recovering at the Raider 35-yard line.
Junior Aaron Calixte started off the Stoughton drive with a 25-yard run, but the Stoughton offense then stalled. Facing a fourth down, Fernandes floated a pass to Middleton, who caught it as he crossed the goal line with 2:34 left before the half.
Stoughton missed the two-point attempt, but led 27-0.
“It’s unbelievable the way he can run, the way he can catch. Marcus is a very aggressive player,” Fernandes said of his receiver.
“We did a lot more passing than we usually do,” Middleton added. “Their defensive backs were playing up, and more shallow, so we wanted to take advantage of our speed on the outside and pass the ball more.”
Burke said the passing game was working because of the pass protection up front and because the team was executing on the ground as well, which helped to set up some of Stoughton’s bigger pass plays.
Even with a comfortable lead, the Stoughton defense continued to come up big in the second half.
Somerset was able to move the chains, running primarily behind junior Mike Garrant, but their drives would stall before putting any points on the board. The Raiders had the ball six times (seven if you count the fumbled kick off) and turned the ball over on downs four times and punted the ball once.
With the Raiders driving to start the fourth quarter, senior Alex Kimball came up with a sack, and on fourth and 11, junior Cole Stafford’s pass intended for Garrant was broken up by Stoughton senior John Olsen.
“We changed some things up [from last week], made some adjustments and it worked for us,” Burke said.
Middleton said knowing that Somerset-Berkley is a run-oriented team, the Black Knights had their linebackers blitz and their corners play tight to the line to contain the Raider running backs.
Stoughton put the exclamation on the victory with just under four minutes to go in the game when sophomore Malachi Baugh broke a 45-yard touchdown run up the sideline, giving the Black Knights a 34-0 lead.
Somerset-Berkley scored a late touchdown—an 11-yard run by senior Andy Wood—to end the Stoughton shutout, but the game was already in hand.
After turning the ball over five times against , the Black Knights were turnover-free Friday night.
“If we keep the ball, we’re going to win a lot of games this year,” Fernandes said.
Stoughton travels to Mansfield (2-0) Friday evening for their first Hockomock League game of the season. Details of the game will be posted on Stoughton Patch's Cover It Live as they happen in Mansfield.