WEYMOUTH, Mass. -- After twenty minutes of football, Mansfield entered their locker room with the momentum, but also the game seemingly in its hands.
The Hornets tallied 21 points in the first half and allowed Walpole only one offensive opportunity in the second half to secure their Division II playoff win, 28-0 and a chance to erase a two year old Super Bowl memory, a loss to these same Rebels back in 2008.
“(Walpole’s) a great team, we just played better than them today. If we play a couple other days the outcome might have been different,” Mansfield wide receiver Jeff Hill said.
Mansfield (11-1) struggled maintaining momentum early in the first quarter, as did Walpole (10-2), but during their second drive of the game, the Rebels marched 61 yards to the Hornets' goal line and could not get around a physical Hornets defense after four rushing attempts between both quarterback Troy Salvatore and running back Kenny Woods.
“I think that’s the turning point, I think it’s a whole different game if they score there, Its 7-7, maybe 14-7 at the half, but its not 21-0,” head coach Mike Redding said.
With the score still 0-0 in the second quarter, Mansfield forced the Rebels to punt on their first offensive series of the second quarter, which set up an 18-yard pass from quarterback George Busharis to Hill.
“George was throwing the ball good, (the) line was blocking, everything was clicking,” Hill said.
Busharis would target Hill two more times throughout the game, but also share the ball with his running back, Jamel Marshall, who finished the game with 89 yards and a touchdown.
“Well we’ve got one of the best offensive lines in the state and Jamel (Marshall) is one of the better (running backs) around and those two together just equals yards,” said Jeff Hill.
Said Redding, “The third quarter, we established the ground game when we had to and Jamel (Marshal) runs hard and (Greg) Donahue and (Blayne) Taylor give us a good change up as well and our fullbacks are also pretty solid."
After Mansfield’s nine-minute drive in the third quarter that resulted in their fourth and final touchdown, Walpole used their only offensive opportunity in the second half to put points on the board, but was held in check by the Hornets defense once again.
Throughout the game, Redding admitted that they wanted to pressure Salvatore and they were successful at it.
“Our biggest concern was Troy Salvatore running the football. We were worried about covering well and him just running. He’s just quick, he’s hard to find behind their big lineman and our linebackers just did a great job of keeping him in the pocket and tackling him in the open field,” said Redding.
After the win, Hill smiled and displayed his confidence when he was asked if his team could win on Saturday by stating a simple, “Yep.”
MANSFIELD 28, WALPOLE 0
WAL 0 0 0 0 --- 0
MAN 0 21 7 0 --- 28
Jeff Hill 18 pass from George Busharis (Dave Eberhart kick)
Hill 32 pass from Busharis (Eberhart kick)
Jamel Marshall 2 run (Eberhart kick)
Hill 11 pass from Busharis (Eberhart kick)