MANSFIELD, Mass. – The Hornets struck first by air, then by ground while proving, in fact, the King Philip defense is not impregnable.
A couple of touchdown passes from George Busharis to Jeff Hill in the first half followed by a pounding running game highlighted by Jamel Marshall’s 104 yards on the ground created a balanced attack as No. 8 Mansfield blanked No. 14 King Philip, 28-0.
“All around, KP has a fantastic defense,” Busharis said. “We knew they were going to attack Jamel [Marshall], so we knew that the play-action would work.”
The Warriors (4-1, 3-1) entered Friday’s action against their Hockomock League rival having not allowed a point since the fourth quarter of their Week One win over Wayland.
After the teams exchanged three-and-outs to begin the game, Mansfield (4-1, 3-0) ended the drought against KP’s defense on a 16-yard touchdown pass from Busharis to Hill in the back of the end zone.
“He ran a corner route with one-on-one coverage,” said Busharis, who completed 8 of 13 pass attempts for 101 yards and two touchdowns. “I know I can rely on Jeff [Hill] in one-on-one coverage because he’s a pretty big kid and he can get up there. He did a hell of a job.”
The Busharis to Hill connection struck again in the second quarter, that time on a 5-yard strike with 6:38 remaining in the half.
When the Hornets returned to the field, their emphasis shifted, but the result remained the same.
Marshall pounded away at the Warriors front line, eventually breaking through for a 14-yard touchdown run in the fourth quarter. Blayne Kelley-Taylor (6 carries, 55 yards) finished things off with a 5-yard score in the fourth.
“It means a lot because it’s like a dual threat,” Marshall said of Mansfield’s balance on offense. “You have to worry about the run, but at the same time, you can’t just send all your guys, or we can hit you on the big pass plays just like we did in this game.”
Meanwhile, a swarming Hornets defense disrupted any sort of rhythm to the Warriors’ ground game and provided persistent pressure on King Philip quarterback Jake Cox. Kyle McGuire, Zach Schafer and Chris Walker each earned sacks for the Mansfield defense.
The Warriors were not without their big plays, however, as Chris Cacciola, Alec May and Abdul Sesay all registered sacks. Jim Johnston also registered several tackles for a loss.
Simply stated, for Mansfield, it came down to allowing fewer of those big plays.
“They’re a high-risk, high-reward [defense],” Mansfield head coach Mike Redding said. “They come after you with everything. We said there were going to be a lot of battles; you’ll win some, you’ll lose some. But I thought we won more than we lost.”
M77014 -- 28
M - Jeff Hill 15-yard pass from George Busharis (Dave Eberhart kick)
M - Hill 5-yard pass from Busharis (Eberhart kick)
M - Jamel Marshall 14-yard run (Eberhart kick)
M - Blayne Kelley-Taylor 5-yard run (Jeremy Burke kick)