The Attleboro High football team had the ball in opposing territory six times Friday night, including three times in the red zone, but scored only once, losing 26-8 at Stoughton.
In its first nine drives of the game before scoring its only touchdown, Attleboro turned the ball over on downs four times, had two interceptions, a fumble and punted twice (one of which was blocked setting up a Stoughton touchdown).
Stoughton is now 8-1 on the season, while Attleboro, once 4-0, is now 4-5. This is Attleboro's first loss to Stoughton since Attleboro joined the Hockomock League in 2010.
"We were able to move the ball. Our goal was to come in and try to go 3, 4 yards at a whack, try to keep the chains moving and we seemed to be doing that a little bit and then we'd bog down and turn the ball back to them and they made some good plays," Attleboro head coach Kevin Deschenes said.
Stoughton jumped out to a 12-0 lead at halftime, scoring on its first and last offensive series of the half - a 19-yard touchdown pass from Dan Eckler to Marcus Middleton and a 3-yard Frankie Morris run.
"They made a couple of plays in the first half which got them out front. We made a couple of bad mistakes defensively which they took advantage of of that really set the tone," Deschenes said.
Following Attleboro's first drive of the second half, Stoughton's Brian Crimmins blocked Tim Walsh's punt, giving Stoughton the ball at the Attleboro 25. Three plays later, Eckler threw a short pass to Morris, who went 25-yards for the touchdown, putting the Black Knights up 18-0 in the third quarter.
Following the Stoughton touchdown, Attleboro punted again, but Stoughton fumbled on its ensuing drive, turning the ball over. The Blue Bombardiers couldn't take advantage, however, giving the ball right back to Stoughton when Aaron Mack came up with a diving interception on the second play of the Attleboro drive.
Two plays later, Eckler hit Mack in stride for a 57-yard touchdown, with Mack sprinting to the end zone. A Malachi Baugh two-point conversion run gave Stoughton a 26-0 lead with less than three minutes to play in the third quarter.
In the fourth quarter, Attleboro advanced the ball to the Stoughton 1, but a goal line stand kept the Blue Bombardiers out of the end zone, with Walsh's QB keeper coming up short of the goal line.
Attleboro was able to score later in the quarter with Walsh finding receiving Cotey Martinez for a 2-yard touchdown. Walsh connected with Luke Morrison for the two-point conversion pass, making it 26-8 with about 4:30 to play.
"My kids never quit, they kept fighting," Deschenes said.
But not enough time remained for Attleboro to attempt a comeback.
Walsh finished 15 of 29 passing for 168 yards, a touchdown and an interception. Martinez was Walsh's favorite target, finishing with 81 yards on 8 catches and a touchdown. Morrison added 70 yards receiving and Brandon Hem led Attleboro with 37 yards rushing.
Attleboro struggled rushing the ball without the services of Malique Clark, who has 14 touchdowns this season.
Meanwhile, a week after Stoughton had four running backs pick up more than 50 yards rushing apiece in a blowout win at Oliver Ames, Attleboro was able to keep the Stoughton running game in check Friday night (no runner cracked 50 yards), but it didn't matter - Black Knight quarterback Dan Eckler turned in his best game of the season, finishing 8 of 12 passing for an even 200 yards, with 3 touchdown passes to three different receivers.
"We just didn't move the ball running wise...but they can't take away both," Stoughton head coach Greg Burke said. "[Eckler] made some nice passes."
With three losses in the Kelly-Rex Division, Attleboro is eliminated from the playoff hunt, but the Blue Bombardiers can play spoiler with their final two games coming against Division foes, at home against Taunton next Friday and at home against North Attleboro on Thanksgiving.