MANSFIELD — Faces have changed for the King Philip football team over the last seven seasons.
The results? Not so much. For the fifth time since 2016, the Warriors are headed back to Gillette Stadium following a 17-10 win over Bishop Feehan in a Division 2 state semifinal at Alumni Field Friday night.
Matthew Kelley provided the signature moments for second-seeded King Philip (9-1), connecting on a career-best 46-yard field goal late in the first half and coming down with an interception that sealed the victory against the upstart 14th-seeded Shamrocks (6-4) with less than two minutes remaining in regulation.
“We knew they were going to have to pass the ball, so we put a few more defensive backs in the game,” Kelley said, diagnosing his pick. “I saw they loved the out route, saw the quarterback’s eyes and just jumped it.”
KP will play the winner of Saturday’s Catholic Memorial-Milford semifinal in the Super Bowl.
The Warriors initially led 17-0, setting the tempo with a Will Astorino 1-yard plunge on fourth and goal that capped an 11-play, 67-yard set that chunred up 6 minutes, 7 seconds.
Kyle Abbott helped KP double its lead in the second quarter with a 29-yard touchdown run and Kelley’s kick made it a three-score game at the break.
But the Shamrocks did almost everything right to get back into the game in the second half. Nick Yanchuk (150 yards on 29 carries), capped a 10-play drive to open the third quarter with a 5-yard touchdown run.
Feehan forced the Warriors to go four-and-out on their ensuing series. The Shamrocks responded with another lengthy scoring drive — a 13-play set that culminated in a 30-yard field goal from Brett McCaffery.
KP punted yet again, giving possession back to Feehan with 4:19 remaining at its own 30-yard line. After picking up two first downs, including one on fourth-and-short, the Shamrocks stalled. In a span of four snaps, Feehan had a false start, lost 7more yards on a sack from Abbott, spiked the ball and ultimately lost possession on Kelley’s pick in the flats on third and 22.
“Credit to them, they stayed with their game plan and wore us down,” King Philip coach Brian Lee said. “If that goes another quarter, we’ve got a serious problem. But we’re able to hang in there, get them in a passing situation and make that play.”