CANTON — It took until the fourth quarter for Stoughton to get its offense going against arch-rival Canton on the road Friday night. But in a game defined by superb defensive play, the Bulldogs would not relent against the Black Knights’ late surge.
Junior Robbie Gallery sealed a 14-7 Canton victory, fittingly with a sack in the final minute, preserving the Bulldogs’ perfect season. Even more remarkable than the play itself was that Gallery wasn’t supposed to be in that position, where he was filling in for the injured James Murphy.
“Murphy is our linchpin on defense,” said Canton coach Dave Bohane. “For our kids to play the bulk of the game without him, all the key guys stepped up.”
Murphy was hurt on the second play of the game. After rushing for 4 yards, the junior captain came up hobbled and was forced out of action for the night.
Without one of their leaders and key contributors, Canton’s defense did the job, holding Stoughton to just 84 yards of total offense. The bulk of that came on a play during Stoughton’s final drive, a 45-yard catch by Ajahn Rue.
The Bulldogs defense forced the Black Knights to take negative yardage on nine plays, including four sacks. Stoughton’s lone score came on an Alex Iverson reception in the fourth quarter.
“We see the wing-T a lot so definitely familiar with them,” said Bohane. “Some of that played out but there’s also little wrinkles in there that you can catch and Stoughton did a good job of finding them. Defense today showed up and played hard as they’ve done all year.”
Offensively, Canton managed to gain 247 yards of total offense but only scored twice on its only trips to the red zone. Junior quarterback John Hogan had the bulk of the touches, rushing 20 times for 118 yards and a touchdown to open up the lead in the second quarter.
Kyle Fitzgerald added the other score, a 9-yard rush in the third quarter.
“[Hagan] has been great,” said Bohane. “That’s what you get with Hagan and the various guys on this team. When we lost James [Murphy], it was a constant game of just finding a way.”
Dan Shulman can be reached at email@example.com.