The football team Friday night, shutting out highly-touted and highly-ranked Mansfield, 8-0, in what could be regarded as one of the upsets of the year.
snapped Mansfield’s 14-game win streak and beat the defending Hockomock League Champions and defending Division 2 Super Bowl Champions for the first time since 2000.
Both teams are now 2-1 on the season.
“It means a lot,” Black Knight head coach Greg Burke said. “We played hard. They are a great team and they are well-coached. We’re getting better every game.”
used a first half field goal, a fourth quarter safety, and a fourth quarter field goal to get 8.
Meanwhile, this was the lowest offensive output for Mansfield since their opening game of last season when they scored only 5 points in a loss. In the first two games of this season, the Hornets scored a combined 67 points.
“We didn’t play well,” Mansfield coach Mike Redding said. “The weather didn’t help but it’s no excuse, they dealt with it. The defense, which struggled in weeks one and two, played great tonight. Our offense, which had been great in weeks one and two, didn’t show up.”
Junior cornerback Marcus Middleton set the tone early for the Stoughton defense, out jumping a Mansfield’s Mike Blackman to grab an interception on Mansfield’s first offensive play.
“I think it was really important because we went into this game as underdogs and everyone expected us to lose,” Middleton said of his interception. “That just set our confidence and we made momentum off of it.”
Stoughton was unable to capitalize on the interception when senior quarterback Alex Fernandes threw an interception three plays later. However, the Black Knights’ defense continued to dominate and stopped the Hornets on fourth down the next series.
The two offenses went back and forth, again with Stoughton stopping the Hornets on fourth down. After their second fourth down stop, sophomore Aaron Mack busted through two Mansfield defenders for a 46 yard run, setting up the only scoring play of the first half, a 30-yard field goal by Fernandes with 37 seconds left in the second quarter.
“We got really pumped up,” Middleton said of Mack’s run. “We were marching down the field on a team that is ranked in the state. It got us amped up and our adrenaline running.”
“[Fernandes] had a heck of a game,” Burke said. “He played awesome.”
Mansfield tried to gain some momentum going into halftime, but Middleton came up with this second pick of the night off of a tip from a Mansfield wide receiver. Stoughton, however, was unable to capitalize.
As the second half started, the rain began to pick up and both teams kept the ball on the ground for the most of the remainder of the game.
Late in the third, though, with Mansfield driving into Black Knight territory, Stoughton junior Aaron Calixte came up with a big interception to give Stoughton the ball at the start of the fourth quarter.
Stoughton then marched down the field inside the Hornets’ five-yard line but were stopped on fourth down with two yards to go.
Then, with 7:13 left to go in the game quarter, the turning point came. Mansfield snapped the ball on their own three and pitched to the left, where Stoughton quickly closed in and tackled Mansfield back Greg Donahue in the end zone, forcing a safety, and expanding their lead to 5-0.
“When we [had] them all the way down on their three and were able to get that safety, it was definitely a game changer,” senior John Olsen said.
Senior Alex Kimball, who had a big tackle for a six-yard loss in the first half, agreed the safety was a turning point.
Stoughton was unable to do anything when they got the ball back on the ensuing kickoff, but their defense yet again came to the rescue. With just over three minutes to go, Stoughton forced another fumble and Calixte was able to pounce on it.
“They’re physical up front, their linebackers are physical,” Redding said of the Black Knight defense. “I thought tonight their secondary kids covered well. Nothing was easy.”
On their next drive, Malachi Baugh had two runs of 20-plus yeards to get Stoughton in scoring position.
But, later in the drive, Stoughton was again faced with a fourth down in Mansfield’s redzone. This time, Burke elected to kick the field goal and Fernandes hit his second of the night, this one from 26-yards out, putting the Black Knights up 8-0 with just 40 seconds left.
“It was huge, especially in the rain with the ball being wet,” senior Kevin Richard said. “Those two field goals were huge.”
On the kickoff, Mansfield fumbled and Stoughton recovered and were able to kill the clock with a kneel down.
“Senior year, [it] couldn’t mean anything more,” Kimball said. “Number three in the state and we beat them. [We] shut them out.”
Stoughton will host Sharon next week, but the preparation has already begun. The Black Knights are not overlooking their Davenport Division foe.
“Show up to film bright and early [Saturday] morning,” said Olsen. “We have five days practice this week. We have to take it right at them.”