WRENTHAM — Prior to Friday’s Division 2 South semifinal clash against Mansfield, King Philip coach Brian Lee reminded his team that its Hockomock League rivals wouldn’t fold early.
“I said, ‘I don’t know how it’s going to play, I don’t know what they’re going to do different this time,’ ” Lee said. “All I know is it’s going to take the whole game.”
Lee’s prediction was accurate. The game boiled down to a final possession before undefeated King Philip prevailed, 13-11, at Macktaz Field. It was the Warriors’ 22nd consecutive victory.
With less than two minutes to play, Mansfield faced third and 15 from its 24 when quarterback Damani Scott found wideout Hunter Ferreira along the left sideline. It looked as if Ferreira stepped out of bounds at the 40 — more than 2 yards beyond the first-down marker — but when the chain crew began to move, the referees halted it and spotted the ball at the 38.
Instead of a fresh set of downs, Mansfield faced fourth and 1.
On the next play, King Philip defensive end Jack Piller raced around the edge and took down running back Vinnie Holmes for a loss of 1.
King Philip (9-0) ran out the clock and earned its trip to the Division 2 South title game against Bridgewater-Raynham.
“I thought we completed the pass for 20 yards [on third down],” Mansfield coach Michael Redding said. “Someone’s got to explain that to me. But even with that, I don’t know if we’ve got the time to get the field goal. You just hate to see that in a big game, that kind of mismanaging of the stakes.”
Running back Shane Frommer (25 carries, 106 yards, 2 TDs) put King Philip ahead twice in the first half. Mansfield’s Michael DeBolt’s 33-yard field goal trimmed the lead to 13-11 with eight seconds remaining in the first half.
Lee credited the Hornets for pushing his team to improve.
“They have made this program work to compete against that, and then that’s how we’ve gotten better,” said Lee, whose Warriors defeated Mansfield, 28-10, in September.
“You get crushed by them or you learn how to fight, and our guys have responded.”Nick Ironside can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.