Mansfield (8-5) scored on the first drive of the game when Wisnieski found Brendan Hill (7 receptions, 139 yards) for a 9-yard touchdown. Reading came back when Belcher ran a sneak in from 4 yards — the Rockets 2-point rush attempt failed.
Following Reading’s score, the Hornets drove to the 1-yard line, but senior running back Kevin Makie was stuffed twice, including on fourth down, turning the ball over to the Rockets.
On the first play, Valente broke through the line and dashed up the right sideline for the 99-yard score. Belcher found sophomore Chris Godwin (4 receptions, 28 yards, 1 TD) for the 2-point conversion that gave the Rockets a 14-7 lead.
“That was huge,” said Reading coach John Fiore, of the goal line stand. “It was just unbelievable. Really proud of the way the kids played defensively. We’ve been doing that kind of stuff all year. It’s just awesome.”
On the subsequent touchdown: “We felt that if we could block on that particular play, that we could get a big gainer and he really turned it into something tremendous. Alex is a great, hard-working kid who has come through leadership-wise.”
Valente, who also had two receptions for 23 yards, said he just had to keep his feet moving to get through the mob at the goal line.
“I just went through the hole, full speed, and moved my feet,” he said. “That was huge back in our own territory and I just squirted out there.”
Neither team scored in the second quarter, but the Rockets came out of the half with a momentum-swinging, 59-yard drive that took more than five minutes and put them up, 21-7.
Belcher threw for 46 of those yards and rushed for the rest, capping the drive with an 8-yard toss to Godwin that deflected off the hands of Valente in the end zone.
The Rockets’ defense — which ranked first in EMass., allowing less than 5 points per game — flexed its muscles once again on the ensuing drive. Wisnieski (12 of 16, 176 yards, TD, 2 INTs) was intercepted by senior defensive back Jared Barros, who returned it 75 yards for a score to give Reading a 27-7 lead.
The Hornets, who gained just 49 yards of offense in the second half, got the ball back, but could not capitalize. Reading took over with 8:15 left in the game and ran out the clock with 14 straight runs.
“What do you say? It’s pretty awesome,” said Fiore. “What an effort by Drew and just can’t say enough about how well our program played all day. They were awesome, just such a team effort.
“It’s been an awesome season. To cap it off with 13-0 season in December is an unbelievable feeling.”