MANSFIELD — A sprained acromioclavicular joint in his right shoulder wasn’t going to keep Mansfield running back Rocco Scarpellini sidelined for the annual Thanksgiving Day clash against Foxborough.
Scarpellini, who missed Mansfield’s two MIAA tournament games, returned to the backfield and played through the pain to power the Hornets, rushing for 131 yards and a touchdown on 18 carries as Mansfield pulled away in the second half for a 35-21 win in the 89th meeting between the Hockomock League rivals.
Mansfield leads the all-time series 52-34-3.
“This was as well as we’ve played on offense all year,” Mansfield coach Mike Redding said. “Rocco coming back after missing a few games, he gave us tough yards. This was our offense at our best, a mix of run and pass.”
While Scarpellini controlled the ground game, junior quarterback Conner Zukowski dominated through the air, completing 12 of 15 passes for 187 yards and two touchdowns. On Mansfield’s first possession, he hit Ryan DeGiloramo on a screen for a 17-yard touchdown pass on third and 16.
After Foxborough connected on a pair of field goals from Sam Carpenter, Scarpellini took over, churning out 75 yards on a drive that ended with a 5-yard score from Drew Sacco.
Mansfield (7-4) pulled away in the third quarter with 21 consecutive points.
With the score tied at 14, Scarpellini bulldozed into the end zone from 3 yards out for a 21-14 lead. The Hornets defense then forced a turnover on downs at midfield, and a 38-yard pass from Zukowski to CJ Bell set up a 1-yard sneak by Zukowski and a 28-14 lead.
“I had to play for the seniors, they are my boys and I love them and I’m so proud of them,” said Scarpellini, who revealed he suffered another AC sprain in his left shoulder during the third quarter.
“We hammered the run game and they couldn’t stop it. When we changed it to pass they couldn’t stop it either. We played a very good game all around.”
Foxborough, the Davenport Division champion, finished 9-3. With the Warriors trailing 35-14 in the fourth quarter, Rashaad Way caught a screen from Thomas Marcucello and took it 73 yards for a score. But the comeback attempt fell short when Trevor Foley sealed the game for Mansfield with an interception with two minutes left.
Star back Dylan Gordon had 125 yards and a touchdown for Foxborough, which entered the matchup averaging 38 points per game.
“Our defense bent a little but didn’t break and that’s a great offense,” Redding said. “We did a good job giving up just the one big play. This is a big signature win for us to finish and gives us confidence for next year.”