Franklin 20, North Attleboro 13: Panthers fight to the finish

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peter willis

peter wiilis

Unable to start games fast this season, the Franklin football team has used  strong finishes to keep winning.

The Panthers again used this blueprint to secure an impressive 20-13 victory  on Friday night at Pisini Field over Hockomock League Large rival North  Attleboro.

Franklin improved to 4-1 (2-0 HLL), while the Red Rocketeers fell to 3-2  (0-2 HLL).

“That’s how we’ve been all year,” Franklin coach Brad Sidwell admitted. “We  haven’t been good starters, but we’ve always found a way to come back and  finish. It’s a great win for our kids and I’m proud of them.”

Down 13-7 with 38 seconds remaining in the game, Panthers junior quarterback  Nick Zucco rifled a pass over the middle to junior receiver Robert Dellorco for  a 19-yard score. Once senior kicker Mike Carden converted the extra point  Franklin had its first lead of the game, 14-13.

But the excitement was far from over.

After North Attleboro fumbled away the ball on the ensuing kickoff, Franklin  went four-and-out. Franklin employed a conservative run game that forced the Red  Rocketeers to use their remaining timeouts. When North Attleboro got the ball  back there were only eight seconds remaining on the clock.

Franklin dropped into a deep prevent coverage designed to stop senior  quarterback Ryan Perron from completing any long passes. When he did attempt  such a pass on the game’s final play, it was caught by Dellorco, who returned it  for a 54-yard touchdown. The play secured the Panthers’thrilling win.

“We were playing all back,” Dellorco explained. “(We wanted to) make sure no  deep passes were completed and I just made a play.”

On this night, the junior wide out was all over the field. He not only  caught the decisive touchdown and returned the interception for six-points, but  he also made what would prove to be a crucial momentum-changing play early in  the third quarter.

North Attleboro took its first possession of the second half 69 yards for a  13-0 lead. The drive’s key play was made by junior running back Jack Blasé, who  took a handoff around the left end for a 25-yard touchdown. But the extra point  was far from a routine exercise as Dellorco managed to break through and deflect  the attempt.

“We’ve been practicing that all week . . . really getting in . . . just  blasting off the line and trying to block it,” Dellorco said. “That felt  good.”