MANSFIELD — After season-opening losses last week, Mansfield and Duxbury met Thursday night searching for positive momentum.
And with a tight, comeback win in enemy territory, Duxbury showed everyone that — despite that early setback — the Dragons still know how to win, thank you very much.
On the back of a Finn Carley fourth-quarter touchdown run, Duxbury (1-1) earned a 21-17 win over the host Hornets (0-2).
“Just really proud of the guys,” Duxbury coach Matt Landolfi said. “This is a big game for both teams. (Mansfield coach Mike) Redding’s an unbelievable coach. They have a historical program, and just coming here to play here, we’re going to get better just doing that. I think today we got better vs. last week. Happy for the kids.”
“Last week, we kind of beat ourselves,” Carley said of the loss to Hanover. “It was a discipline thing, It was a physicality thing, penalties. This week, we just didn’t hurt ourselves, you know? We played more as a team, instead of as individuals. It feels great to get that team win, especially against a good Mansfield team.”
Despite giving up the game’s first touchdown, Mansfield took a 17-14 lead into halftime. It stayed that way for most of the second half, but a fake punt run for a first down by Trevor Jones sparked the game-winning drive. The 14-play, 77-yard march concluded with Carley making a 7-yard touchdown run as the Dragons took a 21-17 lead.
Carley alternated snaps at quarterback with Jones, and each made big plays, with Carley’s touchdown run the biggest.
“I think the thinking is, really, one’s gassed and one’s not,” Landolfi said of when to switch players. “We’re trying to rest them with both starting on defense (Carley at linebacker, Jones at defensive back). Finn, we know, is a big-play kid. He’s a great defensive player, but he made some big plays today, so we’re really happy about that.”
But the biggest defensive play was yet to come. Mansfield drove into Duxbury territory and faced a fourth down with less than two minutes to go. Junior Jack Rees then flew into the backfield and stopped Mansfield quarterback Connor Curtis (54 yards rushing) short of the first down.
Duxbury scored first as a Robert Heppenstall interception set up a 2-yard touchdown run by Jones.
Mansfield rallied, as Curtis threw a 26-yard touchdown pass to Matt Tourigney to tie it with 5:48 left in the first quarter.
In the second quarter, Tommy Smith (64 yards rushing) ran five yards to the Mansfield 1 and fumbled, and Trevor Foley fell on the ball in the end zone for a Hornets touchdown.
Mansfield upped its lead to 17-7 with 3:02 left in the half when Evan Hefez booted a 23-yard field goal.
Duxbury answered, as Jones threw a 13-yard touchdown pass to Adam Barr, and it was 17-14 at the break. Running back Alex Barlow rushed for 57 yards on 12 carries for Duxbury, while Carley rushed for 32 yards.