Bulldogs fall to rivals in annual T-Day showdown

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The Bulldogs are hoping to ride the arm and legs of their All-Hockomock QB, senior captain Brian Hagan, to a win over the rival Black Knights tomorrow (Mike Barucci photo)

The Bulldogs are hoping to ride the arm and legs of their All-Hockomock QB, senior captain Brian Hagan, to a win over the rival Black Knights tomorrow (Mike Barucci photo)

Update: Thanksgiving didn’t go as planned for the Canton High football team as the Bulldogs fell to rival Stoughton 34-0 at SHS Thursday morning. Canton finishes the season at 6-5 with the loss. See next week’s Canton Citizen for complete Thanksgiving Day coverage.

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Having already secured its first winning season in more than a decade, the 6-4 Canton High School football team will look to put an exclamation point on what has been a memorable 2014 campaign when they travel to Stoughton on Thanksgiving Day to play the rival Black Knights beginning at 10 a.m.

Winners of three consecutive games, the Bulldogs go into the game with plenty of confidence that they can compete with the Black Knights, as evidenced by their impressive performance in a last-second home loss on October 10.

Despite outplaying Stoughton — who was undefeated at the time — for most of the game, the Bulldogs fell 28-25 in gut-wrenching fashion as the Black Knights scored the game winner as time expired. On the final play of the game with eight seconds remaining, Stoughton quarterback Jacob Gibb evaded the oncoming pressure and found receiver Ryan Sullivan in the back of the end zone for the clinching score.

The Bulldogs entered the fourth quarter with a commanding 25-7 lead. Stoughton regained momentum with back-to-back scoring drives in a three-minute span and then marched down the field with 38 seconds left and no timeouts for the game-winning score.

Stoughton receiver Swain Price was a thorn in the side of the Canton secondary as he caught five passes for 125 years. Also scoring touchdowns for the Black Knights in the comeback were Gibb on a one-yard run and Sullivan on a five-yard run.

Despite the loss, the Bulldogs had many stellar performances that night, including great two-way play by quarterback/safety Brian Hagan, receiver/safety Anthony Ross, receiver/cornerback Derrick Harris, and linebacker Jake Ragusa. Hagan rushed for 66 yards and passed for 94, including a 20-yard touchdown strike to Harris. Harris scored twice in the contest, with the other touchdown coming on a 13-yard run, and he finished with six catches for 71 yards. Ross caught three passes for 37 yards to go along with two interceptions on defense. Running backs Sterlin Garvin and Jahron Reynolds combined for 108 rushing yards, and Ragusa paced the defense with six tackles.

Stoughton (8-2) continued to play good football, but lost to Medfield and Milford in the MIAA playoffs. Bohane said Canton is a different team than the last time it played Stoughton, with new formations, an ever-improving Sterlin Garvin, who has two consecutive 100-yard rushing games, and a new inside power running game aided by the emergence of Ragusa.

Bohane said tomorrow’s matchup will feature some of the league’s most exciting players, including Hagan and Harris for Canton and running back Joey Dirolamo and Price for Stoughton.

“We have mutual respect for Stoughton,” Bohane said. “They have great players, a great program, and a great coach … There is no lack of motivation for our team. They want another shot to play Stoughton. I can tell you to a player, they are very excited about this game and look forward to it. But they also know what they are up against.”

Bohane said it is a good thing to show the Knights different looks as veteran SHS Coach Greg Burke is a master at making adjustments on defense. “We have shown to be multi-faceted and I think that’s good against a team like Stoughton,” he said. “You don’t want to show them the same formations.”

In last year’s Thanksgiving game held at CHS, the Bulldogs surged back from a 28-7 deficit to come within 13 yards of tying the score before bowing out 28-20 after a late interception. Stoughton now leads the all-time series at 44-40-4 in this historic rivalry dating back to 1926.

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