BRIDGEWATER — For most of the night, Mansfield’s strategy was simple: Keep the ball from the potent Duxbury offense by grinding out drives with runs and short passes. But it was the big play that ended up being the difference in Mansfield’s stunning 23-19 victory that ended Duxbury’s state-long 37-game winning streak.
With Mansfield leading, 16-13, with less than five minutes left in the Division 2 semifinal, Hornets quarterback Kyle Wisnieski threw a bomb down the left side line and found Brendan Hill for a 74-yard touchdown.
The Dragons scored a little more than a minute later, but it was not enough as Mansfield handed Duxbury its first loss since Dec. 1, 2009.
“We did the things we had to do to beat a great football team, and that is one heck of a run to get to 37,” said Mansfield coach Mike Redding. “You just don’t want to play Mansfield after we lose, because we are not going to lose two in a row. It’s been 12 years and I hope it continues.”
Duxbury coach Dave Maimaron maintained perspective.
“[Thirty-seven straight wins] is a tremendous accomplishment for these guys and all the other guys that were a part [of the streak],” he said. “We have won a lot of football games and we are proud of what we accomplished but unfortunately, especially for our seniors, we are not playing on Saturday.”
Mansfield made an immediate statement as Kevin Makie ran for 49 yards on the Hornets’ first play from scrimmage. Seven plays later, Brock Horstmann booted a 25-yard field goal to give Mansfield a 3-0 edge.
Duxbury struck back on its second drive as Jon Hurvitz found a seam up the middle for a 69-yard touchdown run.
That was all the damage the high-powered Duxbury offense would do in the first half; the Green Dragons only had the ball for 4:19 in the first 20 minutes.
“We wanted that, ball control drives and keep their offense off the field. They are so talented and I think we did that. We limited their possessions; we got a couple of three and outs, we forced some turnovers. We did everything had to do to win tonight,” said Redding.
On the final play of the first quarter, Duxbury fumbled and Michael Barresi landed on it. Mansfield then drove 56 yards in 4:35 and Makie, who rushed for 115 yards on 20 carries, bulldozed in from the 1 for a 10-6 lead.
Just more than a minute later, Barresi created another turnover, picking off Duxbury quarterback Sean McCarthy at midfield. Again, the Hornets worked the clock, driving to the 2-yard line. On fourth and goal with three seconds left in the half, Robert Rapoza fought his way in for a score and the Hornets took a 16-6 at the half.
Hurvitz rushed for 138 yards on 11 carries and all three Duxbury scores.