Foxborough's playoff drought continues for another year after a frustrating, 14-7 loss in Sharon Saturday.
The Eagles (8-2, 3-0) clinched their first ever Hockomock League Davenport Division title and postseason berth with the seven-point victory over the visiting Warriors (7-3, 2-2).
For Foxborough, it is a sixth straight year without a postseason appearance since the Warriors' Super Bowl championship in 2006.
"We weren’t thinking playoffs," said Foxborough head coach Jack Martinelli following Saturday's game. "We were just thinking getting part of the [Hockomock League Davenport Division] championship."
Sharon's defense prevented that from happening Saturday. The Eagles managed to keep Foxborough’s Kiivone Howard and the Warriors’ rushing attack bottled up for most of the game as the offense struggled to find a rhythm until its final offensive possession when Howard found the end zone on a 9-yard run to cap a 70-yard drive.
"Too little too late," Martinelli said of Howard's score with 53 seconds left in the game and Foxborough trailing 14-7 with no timeouts remaining.
Sharon recovered the ensuing onside kick, took a knee on its final possession and began to celebrate its historic win.
"They will enjoy it," said Sharon head coach Dave Morse. "It’s a lot of hard work getting paid off."
Foxborough's opening drive looked promising as the Warriors marched down the field from its own 28-yard line on runs by Howard and Luc Valenza to Sharon's 22 in just under five minutes in the first quarter.
But Sharon's defense made a big play that changed the tone of Saturday’s game.
Sharon’s Brad Kaufman jumped the route by Foxborough's Jess Todd to intercept a Mike Slaby pass at the Eagles' 16-yard line. The Warriors’ offense never seemed to establish a rhythm following the interception, punting the ball four times in the first half.
Sharon wasted little time turning the interception into points on a 41-yard touchdown run by Sean Asnes with just over three minutes to play in the first quarter. The touchdown drive was aided by a big pass interference penalty on third down called against Foxborough's Drew McGeary.
The point after was good and Sharon led 7-0.
That lead held up through three quarters as Foxborough's offense continued to struggle to sustain drives against a bend-but-doesn’t-break Sharon defense.
"We had to play too much defense," Martinelli said. ... "Give Sharon credit. They played great defense and they moved the ball and scored when they had to."
Sharon padded its lead with 4:09 remaining in the fourth quarter on a 25-yard touchdown pass from O'Neill to Kaufman. The score was set up by a Jared Fogel interception of Slaby returned to Foxborough's 35-yard line. Foxborough twice forced a Sharon fourth down on the drive but Asnes moved the chains on fourth and short to Foxborough's 25-yard line and O'Neill found Kaufman in the end zone on 4th and 10.
Foxborough managed to get a score back late in the fourth quarter but could not recover the onside kick following Howard's nine-yard run - his 20th touchdown of the season - and Sharon was able to run out the clock for its first ever division title.
"It feels great," Morse said. "This is the reason I came here. When I was an assistant here a couple years ago I saw the potential here in the program. When the job became open, I said I wanted it and this is why. This is what I saw a couple of years ago."
Foxborough returns to action on Thanksgiving morning, 10 a.m., in Mansfield. Sharon will meet Oliver Ames on Thanksgiving before prepping for its first playoff appearance where they will play Pembroke.