HORNETS WIN: Mansfield Football 23, Duxbury 19; Hornets in Super Bowl

The Mansfield High football team upset Duxbury, 23-19, in the Division 2 playoffs and will now have a rematch with Reading in the Super Bowl Saturday.

The Mansfield High football team is going Bowling again.

After beating Duxbury, 23-19, Tuesday night at Bridgewater-Raynham High School in the Division 2 playoffs during a snowy showdown.

"Our kids come back every week and keep working, win or lose," Mansfield head coach Michael Redding said. 

The Hornets will be playing Reading in Saturday's Division 2 Super Bowl at Bentley University in Waltham. Reading defeated Tewksbury, 42-6, in the other playoff game in Reading. The Hornets defeated Reading, 29-26, with an amazing comeback in the 2010 Super Bowl game at Gillette Stadium.

"We did all the things we had to to beat a great football team," Redding said. "That is one heck of a run to get to 37 [wins] and I'm glad we had a chance to compete against them and their great program."

It was Duxbury's first loss in 37 games and ended their chances for third straight Super Bowl title.

Mansfield held a 16-6 lead at the half and were able to hold off the Green Dragons' offensive charge in the second half. Duxbury got three touchdowns from the standout running back Jon Hurvitz, who scored his third touchdown of the night with 2:50 left in the game, cut the margin to 23-19.

With 4:07 left in the game, Mansfield (8-4) took a 23-13 lead as Brendan Hill caught a 74-yard touchdown pass from quarterback Kyle Winsnieski on the third down with seven yards to go.

"We really didn't want to punt again and give them one more chance with the ball," Redding said. "We kind of sneaked Brendan in on the tight end... we protected great and it was a great throw and played the game. If we punted there, it could've been a different ending."

Duxbury scored 13 points in the second half, but it wasn't enough. They answered Hill's touchdown to bring the score to 23-19 with 2:30 left in the game, but Mansfield played it safe and didn't try anything fancy. 

Barressi managed to seal the game on Duxbury's return, catching a very unruly onside kick and securing Mansfield's possession.

The Hornets ended the game by taking knees and running the clock on carries.

In the closing seconds of the first half, Mansfield's Rob Rapoza scored on a 2-yard run. The extra-point was blocked, giving the Hornets a 16-6 lead at the half.

This would come after a crucial interception from Mike Barressi with only 4:15 left in the first half. Mansfield received the first kickoff, and needed to strengthen their 10-6 lead before Duxbury retook possession in the second half.

With solid passing to Michael Hershman and running from Alex Ruddy and Kevin Makie, they were able to bring the ball close to the line to get Rapoza to ring the score to 16-6 in the final seconds (1.67 specifically) of the first half and their last possession of the half before Duxbury took over.

That came after  Makie ran for a 1-yard tochdown and Hershman added the extra-point for a 10-6 lead in the second quarter.

Mansfield got on the scoreboard with 6:37 left in the first quarter as Hershman kicked a field goal for a 3-0 after Mansfield was stopped at the Duxbury 8-yard line.

Duxbury countered Mansfield's first field goal (and score) with a 67-yard touchdown run by Hurvitz to take a 6-3 lead at the end of the first quarter. Mansfield made their first drive to the 20 yardline but could not get a touchdown during their first possession, an omen that did not bode well (at the time) for the Hornets.

This win comes after a close loss against Foxborough during the Thanksgiving classic. Redding said it didn't get him down a bit.

"It's kind of funny, you don't want to play Mansfield after we lose because we're not going to lose two games in a row," he said. "It's been 12 years and I hope it's going to be another 12. We got kids with character and they come back and practice hard and come back after it."

The Green Dragons finished the season with an 11-2 record.


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