The Foxborough football program is just a different animal.
Heading into Friday night’s Division 5 Quarterfinal game against Newburyport, the second-seeded Warriors were allowing a miniscule 7.6 points per game with three shutouts this year, and hadn’t allowed an opponent to score more than 15.
And after the game, their average improved.
No. 7 Newburyport played until the final whistle, and kept it close for nearly three quarters, but couldn’t escape the stranglehold of that defense. Foxborough forced four turnovers on the night, and shut out the Clippers, 37-0, to advance to its third straight state semifinal.
“Between Duxbury, who we played in the playoffs last year, and Foxborough, who we played two years ago and then last night, those are two very good football teams,” said Newburyport coach Ben Smolski. “They’re just a big, strong, tough football team. But I give our kids credit. They gave their all until the end, and they were competitive at times against a very good team.”
For the Clippers (8-2), it’s now on to the 100th annual Thanksgiving Day rivalry game against Amesbury.
“It was a good day today,” said Smolksi, speaking on the Saturday after the game. “We came in and reviewed the film like we always do, and started to get ready for Amesbury. Even if we had made the Super Bowl, playing Amesbury on Thanksgiving is always going to be our Super Bowl.”
And the final score Friday night was a tad deceiving.
Foxborough (9-1) received the opening kickoff, and drove right down and scored on a 5-yard touchdown run from Ben Angelini. The Warriors then got a 30-yard field goal from Owen Hayes, and Angelini’s second TD of the game made it 17-0 midway through the second quarter.
But Newburyport had its chances.
The Clippers drove down inside the 10-yard-line right before the half, leaning on Jack Sullivan (9-34 rushing), Colin Fuller (6-23 rushing) and Sam Craig (4-26 receiving) to pick up yards. Plus, the Clippers were also in line to receive the second-half kickoff, so the classic Patriots double-score was on the table in Foxborough.
But the Warriors kept Newburyport out of the endzone at the end of the half, then ended another long Clipper drive to start the third quarter at the 5-yard-line with an interception.
“We had our chances,” said Smolski. “But credit to Foxborough, they’re a heck of a team.”
Foxborough QB Mike Marcucella then hit Tony Sulham on a 27-yard TD late in the third, and found Nolan Gordon on a 34-yard strike with a minute left in the game to make it 31-0. A fumble on the last play of the game was then scooped and scored by Brandon Mazenkas-O’Grady for a 53-yard TD.
Defensively, Gus Webster led Newburyport with 13 tackles, Cade Pessalano had seven and Kane Brennan added five.
“Gus Webster was a warrior for us, he played right until the end,” said Smolski. “Then Kane Brennan, talk about the definition of toughness, he’s one of the toughest kids I’ve coached. And guys like Teddy Caron and Jack Sherman, they give everything they have every single week. They all showed their true colors at the end (Friday) night. They all battled until the end.”
Foxborough 37, Newburyport 0
Newburyport (8-2): 0 0 0 0 — 0
Foxborough (9-1): 10 7 7 13 — 37
F — Ben Angelini 6 run (Owen Hayes kick), 7:37
F — Hayes 30 field goal, :01
F — Angelini 20 run (Hayes kick), 4:49
F — Tony Sulham 27 pass from Mike Marcucella (Hayes kick), 1:53
F — Nolan Gordon 34 pass from Marcucella (Hayes kick), 1:00
F — Brandon Mazenkas-O’Grady 53 fumble recovery (kick failed), :20
RUSHING: NEWBURYPORT (24-71): Jack Sullivan 9-34, Colin Fuller 6-23, Gus Webster 1-9, Sean Miles 5-5, Kane Brennan 3-3
PASSING: N — S. Miles 11-22-0, 65
RECEIVING: N — Sam Craig 4-26, Logan Jones 2-23, Jackson DeVivo 2-16, Sullivan 1-5, Webster 1-4, Fuller 1-0
DEFENSE: N — Gus Webster 13 tackles, Cade Pessalano 7 tackles, Kane Brennan 5 tackles