WRENTHAM, Mass. -- Some might say Matt Benson was in the right place at the right time. But when it happens twice, it's more than just luck.
Benson recovered a fumble at the end of the third quarter and had an interception to stop King Philip's last minute drive as Marshfield won the D2 South Sectional Finals, 20-12, over the Warriors.
"We were hoping the defense could hold on and make a play somewhere here or there," Marshfield head coach Lou Silva said. "The defense won it for us, they came through with some big stops.
Both of Benson's turnovers were key for the Rams. It looked like the momentum had swung heavily in favor of King Philip after Mark Glebus intercepted a tipped pass from Jack Masteron. KP was down just one score with the fourth quarter about to start. But on the first play, the snap was botched and the ball eventually bounced out of a sea of legs and Benson pounced on it.
Two plays later, the Rams were in the end zone via a 14-yard Frank Catanoso jet sweep to put Marshfield up 20-12 with 10:38 left in the game.
"No, no no -- we didn't feel safe at all," Silva said. "Not with the way they run. We haven't seen a team run this well as King Philip in a bunch of years. What a great job they do running the damn ball. Not anytime during the game did I feel safe. Not until right now."
The Rams got off to a dream start. It took them just four plays after the opening kick off to find the end zone. On first down at the Warriors' 41-yard line, Masterson dumped it off to Neal Parry on a screen and Parry broke through three tackles and raced all the way to the end zone. The extra point was wide to make it 6-0.
On King Philip's first possession, Glebus busted a 21-yard gain on the first play but two plays later, Marshfield's Danny Dalton picked off KP sophomore quarterback John DeLuca and returned it into KP territory. Six plays later, Masterson handed off to Canatoso on a jet sweep and he raced up field and in. Masterson connected with Dalton for the two-point conversion to make it 14-0.
The Warriors went back to a healthy dose of Glebus on their ensuing drive. Glebus ran the ball on 12 of KP's 13 plays on the drive and accounted for 58 of the 60 yards on mostly rushes to the left. He capped it with a three yard rush. The extra point was wide but KP cut the lead to 14-6.
The game settled down from there as Marshfield punted of their only two drives of the second quarter and KP was forced to punt on their first. On their second drive, KP got all the way down to the Rams' 5-yard line with 19 seconds left. But from there, Marshfield stopped a Glebus run in the backfield, the Warriors were called for a false start and DeLuca's two final passes of the half were knocked down in the end zone.
King Philip made up for leaving points on the board by opening the second half with a touchdown. The Warriors went 68 yards in just six plays, capped off with a seven-yard touchdown for Glebus. On the two-point try, DeLuca was sacked before he could get a throw off.
Marshfield's offense stalled on its first drive of the third and punted, but got the ball back after their defense forced a punt from KP.
Facing third down at the KP 45, Masteron dropped back and fired but the ball hit off a receivers hands and into the air. That's where Glebus hauled it in for the interception. But just when the momentum swung to KP, the botched snap recovered by Benson swung it ten-fold the other way.
Masterson his Dalton up the middle for 30 yards before Catanoso took the left to the left and got around the edge and up the field for the score.
"That's the way we've been running it all year long," Silva said of mixing up the offense with sweeps, runs, QB options and passing. "KP did an exceptional job of stopping up the middle, we couldn't run up the middle. Frank Catanoso, getting to the outside, no one's really been able to stop him from getting outside."
KP got the ball back with 5:20 at their own 24-yard line after stopping the Rams on downs, but were forced to punt. The Warriors defense came up big again, as Craig Kelleher came up with an interception.
The Warriors needed to drive the distance from their own 3-yard line with 1:58 left. DeLuca was able to hit three different receivers to get to midfield with 25 seconds left, but on the next play, Benson stepped in front of a throw and intercepted DeLuca to ice the game.
"We made too many mistakes against a good team," KP head coach Brian Lee said. "Too many things - we lined up wrong a few times. We made some rookie mistakes that we hadn't made up to this point and that's probably due to the pressure the opponent was putting on."
Marshfield will now play in the D2 State Semifinals against North Andover, who won the North. The game is currently set for Saturday, November 22nd at Marciano Stadium in Brockton. No time has been announced.