The Foxborough High School football team had a lot going against them heading into Friday night's game with Attleboro.
The Warriors were coming off a 20-0 loss to unbeaten Stoughton High School, playing without starting quarterback Mike Slaby and facing a team they had never beaten.
But these Warriors proved to be resilient once again Friday night in a 17-14 victory over the Blue Bombardiers.
"This is a great group of kids," said Foxborough head coach Jack Martinelli. "It’s a senior-oriented team ... the kids rose to the occasion and I’m happy about the win."
Foxborough (4-2, 0-1) outplayed Attleboro (4-2) for the majority of the first half but only had a 3-0 lead at halftime to show for it. Attleboro's defense held Foxborough to just one field goal - a 26-yarder from kicker Kyle Will towards the end of the first quarter - in three red zone attempts in the first half.
After two failed fourth down attempts inside Attleboro's 20-yard line, Foxborough drove 71 yards at the end of the second quarter on the legs of running backs Kiivone Howard and Luc Valenza to get down to the Blue Bombardiers' 2-yard line.
Attleboro's defense rose to the defense with its back against its own goal line and stopped the powerful Howard - who had 11 rushing touchdowns on the season entering Friday's game - and Valenza.
"[Attleboro] did [meet the challenge of stopping Foxborough at the goal line]," said Martinelli. "It’s man-on-man down there, it’s 11-on-11 and the two or three times we were down there and couldn’t punch it in … you got to give the other team credit."
Foxborough turned the ball over on downs at Attleboro's 1-yard line to end the first half.
Attleboro responded in the second half with two scores but Foxborough was able to answer both.
The Blue Bombardiers took their first lead of the game – 7-3 – with 6:24 to play in the third quarter on a 10-yard touchdown pass from Tim Walsh to Luke Morrison. The scoring drive was set up by a Tom Burns interception at Foxborough's 32-yard line. That lead would hold until the fourth quarter.
"I thought the Attleboro played pretty tough," Martinelli said. "They have some tough kids over there."
Foxborough's offense - under the leadership of sophomore quarterback Nolan Rogers - eventually answered Attleboro's score on a 2-yard run by Howard, his 12th of the season, to give the Warriors a 10-7 lead with 7:33 to play. The score was the result of a drive that needed two fourth down conversions and long runs by Howard and Valenza.
Attleboro wasted little time responding, scoring on its next series. Starting at their own 41, the Blue Bombardiers' Walsh ran for a first down on fourth and two to Foxborough's 46-yard line. The next play turned out to be Attleboro's biggest of the game. Walsh completed a pass towards the Attleboro sideline to Cotey Martinez who then completed a lateral to David Duquette to put the Blue Bombardiers at Foxborough's 16-yard line.
Walsh scrambled down to Foxborough's 2-yard line where Duquette finished off the drive with a 2-yard score to give Attleboro its second lead of the night - 14-10 with 4:19 to play.
Foxborough, again showing its resiliency, relied on Rogers to make a play and get the ball into the hands of the Warriors' best player - Howard.
Starting at its own 41-yard line, Foxborough's Valenza picked up a first down on a 20-yard run down to Attleboro's 41-yard line. From there, Rogers found Howard on a short swing pass to the Warriors' sideline and the star running back blew by the Attleboro defense for the 41-yard touchdown reception to give Foxborough a 17-14 lead with 3:17 to play.
"I thought [Rogers] did a terrific job for a sophomore against a good football team," Martinelli said. "It’s nice to have him for the next three years. It’s a luxury to have two good quarterbacks."
Attleboro got one more chance on offense but Foxborough's defense stopped Walsh shy of a first down on fourth and short at the Warriors' 45-yard line with 1:34 to play. Howard picked up a crucial first down on a 17-yard run to Attleboro's 38-yard line to seal the three-point victory.
Friday's win was Foxborough's first in three meetings against Attleboro. The Warriors will host Oliver Ames in a Davenport Division game next Friday night for homecoming weekend. Attleboro travels to Franklin for a 7 p.m. game next Friday.
Foxborough Player of the Game
- Luc Valenza, junior: The running back and linebacker played an outstanding game, pacing Foxborough's offense on a night where Slaby was out of the lineup and Howard was mostly contained by a strong Attleboro defense. Valenza finished with 198 yards rushing.
"Valenza had a great game," Martinelli said. "It’s nice to have a 1-2 punch when people are chasing [Kiivone Howard] all night. ... He’s really the only player that plays two ways [offense and defense]. He broke into high school football as a freshman against Attleboro three years ago so [Friday night was] special for him."
Foxborough Play of the Game
- Rogers touchdown pass to Howard: Not only was it the game-winning score but it was a perfectly executed pass by the sophomore quarterback and an explosive run by Howard to turn the short pass into a 41-yard touchdown strike.
Attleboro Player of the Game
- Luke Morrison, junior: The 6-foot-2 wide receiver made several big plays for Attleboro in the passing game Friday night, including hauling in a 10-yard touchdown pass that was originally deflected by a Foxborough defensive back in the end zone.
Attleboro Play of the Game
- Lateral from Martinez to Duquette: This was a great heads up play from both players to set-up what was a go-ahead 2-yard touchdown run by Duquette later in the drive.