Foxborough’s 21-0 victory over North Attleboro (3-1) Friday night may not matter in the Hockomock League standings at the end of the season but it certainly meant something to Warriors’ head coach Jack Martinelli and the 96 players on his roster.
“It counts for my kids,” Martinelli said of Friday’s win over North Attleboro. … “In our league, it’s weird ... we play 11 games but only four count. I’m not a fan of it but it is what it is. … It’s still Foxborough-North no matter what. At the end of the day, it doesn’t mean anything on paper but for our kids it’s big.”
The “big win” was Foxborough’s first over North Attleboro since 2009 – The Warriors beat North, 24-22 that year.
On Friday, it was the Warriors’ defense that set the tone on a wet and rainy night with conditions less than favorable at Ahern Field. Foxborough (3-1) handled the conditions better than its opponent, winning the turnover battle, 4-0 and controlling the ball on offense.
On defense, Foxborough created four turnovers – two interceptions and two fumbles. Both interceptions led to Warriors' touchdowns.
“I thought defensively, the kids stopped and slowed down a real good offensive team,” Martinelli said. “I know the conditions weren’t the best but we are an East-West team too.”
After a scoreless first quarter, Foxborough’s Luc Valenza bounced outside of the North Attleboro defense down the left sideline for a 20-yard touchdown run. The Warriors converted the extra point and led 7-0 with 9:32 to play in the second quarter.
North had a chance to score in the closing seconds of the first half but Foxborough came up with one of its many big stops. North had the ball on the Warriors’ 25-yard line with four seconds remaining in the first half but quarterback Ryan Perron threw an incomplete pass that was almost intercepted by Foxborough.
Coming out of halftime with a 7-0 advantage, Foxborough doubled its lead with a 1-yard touchdown run by Kiivone Howard with 2:02 to play in the third quarter. The scoring drive, which lasted 2:43, was set up by an Alex Pacitti interception and return to North’s 44-yard line.
“Key interception by [Alex] Pacitti,” Martinelli said.
Another big interception to set up a Foxborough scoring drive came in the fourth quarter when Mark Wilson picked off Perron and returned it to North’s 34-yard line. Runs by Howard, Valenza and quarterback Mike Slaby put Foxborough on North’s 2-yard line with 2:16 remaining in the fourth quarter. Howard leaped into the end zone for his second score of the game and 11th touchdown of the season to give the Warriors a 21-0 lead with 1:26 remaining following the extra point.
“Some great runs by Kiivone [Howard], Luc [Valenza] and Mike Slaby,” Martinelli said. … “The kids did a great job.”
North Attleboro fumbled on the ensuing kickoff return and Foxborough recovered. From there, the Warriors executed a series of kneel downs to run out the clock and pick up the win.
Martinelli said he was especially proud of his team for bouncing back from a difficult, 21-20 loss to Whitman-Hanson a week ago.
“Really happy with the effort of all the kids, especially after a tough one last week, one point at the end there,” Martinelli said.
North still leads the all-time series over Foxborough, 28-17-2.
The Warriors travel to Stoughton next Friday, Oct. 5 to take on the unbeaten Black Knights (4-0) in a Hockomock League Davenport Division game. Kickoff at Sarno Field is 6 p.m.
Arguably the drive of the game, Foxborough controlled the clock and the ball for over four minutes in North Attleboro territory in the fourth quarter. And while the drive resulted in a missed field goal by Foxborough, they forced North Attleboro to take possession at the Red Rocketeers’ 20-yard line with 4:43 to play, trailing 14-0.
Touchdown … No, Wait!
Two touchdowns Friday night were negated due to holding penalties by the offense. The first was what looked to be a North Attleboro score on a 33-yard run by North’s Mike Lambert in the third quarter. The score would have brought North within a touchdown of Foxborough. Instead, North was backed up 10 yards before throwing an interception to Pacitti.
The second touchdown called back due to a holding penalty was Foxborough’s. Slaby found running room and scampered for a 14-yard score with under four minutes to play. Foxborough later scored on the drive however, on Howard’s second touchdown of the game.