BROCKTON — Plymouth South coach Scott Fry knows senior running back Dylan Oxsen gets most of the publicity surrounding his No. 9 Panthers.
In Friday night’s Division 3 state semifinal, it was the defense that stole the show and earned Plymouth South a trip to the Super Bowl.
The Panthers held No. 12 Stoughton scoreless in the second half and Oxsen racked up 195 yards and two scores as Plymouth South squeaked past the Black Knights, 14-12, at Rocky Marciano Stadium.
Plymouth South (9-1) plays the winner of Saturday’s semifinal matchup between No. 10 Melrose and No. 4 Tewksbury in the Division 3 Super Bowl Dec. 7 at Gillette Stadium.
The Panthers defense held Stoughton (9-2) to 48 yards in the second half, including only three first downs, forcing four punts and two turnovers.
The Black Knights finished with 213 total yards.
“Our defense has really played well all year long,” Fry said, “and the kids that stepped up all year continue to step up for us.”
On Friday, it was senior Anthony Schena who came up with the big play.
The Panthers were clinging to a 2-point lead with 34 seconds left with Stoughton driving — its only effective drive of the second half — to the Plymouth South 25-yard line.
The threat ended when Schena picked off Jake Gibb’s pass intended for senior Jovani Pines down the left sideline to seal the win.
“I consider our defense as one of the best in the state,” Oxsen said. “They did exactly what they had to do, make the big plays in the end, and that’s what we did.”
Plymouth South’s offense also did its part late. Starting at their 34 with 6:30 to go, the Panthers fed Oxsen on 11 straight plays, churning out 36 yards, three first downs, and Stoughton’s final four timeouts.
The drive took 4:26 off the clock before Plymouth South turned it over on downs at the Black Knights’ 30 to set up Stoughton’s final drive.
Oxsen had only 29 yards on 10 carries in the second half prior to the final drive. He had 130 on 19 carries in the first half.
The Panthers jumped to a 14-0 lead with 4:07 to go in the second quarter on a pair of rushing touchdowns by Oxsen (29 and 6 yards).
That’s when Stoughton’s offense finally kicked into gear, and sophomore Jake Gibb hit senior Lennox Green for a 15-yard touchdown pass to make it 14-6 with 1:20 left in the second after the PAT was blocked.
Then, the Black Knights recovered a short kickoff near midfield and drove to the Plymouth South 34 before Green coughed it up with 50 seconds left in the half.
Oxsen fumbled four plays later to give it right back, and Stoughton junior Joseph Girolamo took a screen pass from Gibb 38 yards for a score.
The Black Knights’ 2-point rush was stopped to give the Panthers a 14-12 lead at the half.