The Mansfield High football team thoroughly dominated Taunton, 35-14, on Friday.
Mansfield’s passing game was key in their victory, with great plays coming from quarterback Kyle Wisnieski passing to Brendan Hill and Michael Hershman.
Mansfield’s running game relied heavily on Kevin Mackie, as Robert Rapoza, their leading runner, was injured during an interception play.
Mackie, however, picked up the slack and kept Mansfield’s game solid.
Mansfield took the lead early with a solid drive, starting with a 20 yard pass to Hill, a run from Mackie and a touchdown run from Rapoza. The Hornets made the conversion to start 8-0.
Alexander Rudy struck again in the first quarter for Mansfield with a run up the center after an interception. This would be the case for the next three touchdowns Mansfield had two interceptions and a fumble after a punt.
Taunton scored on their next possession, keeping in the game, 14-7.
Hill made another long pass catch in the end zone to widen Mansfield’s lead once again. Mansfield was up 21-7 with three minutes left in the half.
After halftime, the Tigers pushed through on the kick return for a 75-yard touchdown run. Mansfield still held the lead at 21-14.
Michael Cunningham struck next for the Hornets with two solid runs up the middle of the Tiger defense. Mansfield widened the gap to 28-14 in the third quarter.
The Tigers weren’t out of it just yet. After a long drive into Hornet territory, it looked like they were going to score on another run, but fumbled in the end zone for a touchback to give Mansfield the ball again.
Hornet Christopher Buchanan sealed the game with about three minutes left to play to bring Mansfield to a solid 35-14 lead.
The injury to Rapoza could be a factor in future games. Head coach Mike Redding said that he had stretched his right back hamstring, and will need to heal before he can play again.
“The big thing was we had to have Mackie step up and carry more,” he said. “We’ve got some depth at running back; we miss Robbie a lot, but we’ve got some guys that can make it up. Fortunately, we’ve got enough balance where if you lose a thousand-yard rusher and you can still score 35 points.”
Next week Mansfield will face Franklin, which Redding said will be a big test for the team.
“Franklin’s got good skill guys, the quarterback can run and throw and it’ll be a big test for our defense,” Redding said. “It’s a championship game, you know, if we win we lock up title.”