Marlborough beats Hudson in Thanksgiving football rivalry’s latest chapter

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Marlborough and Hudson players come together for their pregame coin toss. (Photo/Dakota Antelman)

MARLBOROUGH/HUDSON – The Marlborough High School football team beat the Hudson Hawks in the Morgan Bowl in Hudson, Nov. 25, continuing a run of rivalry dominance with a 14-7 victory.

“It was a battle,” Coach Sean Mahoney told reporters, though, after his team’s postgame huddle. 

Expectations were high entering the game as 2021 marked the first time in several years that the Hawks and Panthers would come into Thanksgiving having both won playoff spots with their regular season performances. 

The Panthers lost to Grafton in round one of the MIAA bracket. Hudson took things a step further, upsetting Austin Prep before losing in the quarterfinals to Bishop Fenwick on the road in Peabody. 

Mahoney watched that Austin Prep game from the bleachers and said he knew what this year’s Hudson team was capable of. 

“We didn’t want them to have a lot of snaps on offense because they are explosive on offense,” he said. 

Marlborough ran a pounding offense, Nov. 25, turning to its running backs to drive short gains up the middle of the field. 

The Panthers flung thick clumps of mud from their cleats as they opened a 7-0 lead early in the game before expanding that lead in the second quarter. 

Marlborough’s defense intercepted Hudson quarterback Jake Attaway in the final seconds of the first half, shutting town that drive for the Hawks and sending the teams to halftime with the Panthers ahead 14-0. 

Hudson’s defense growled in the third quarter, punctuating their performance when Ty Mullahey delivered a devastating hit on fourth down to end a Marlborough drive near midfield.

The Hawks didn’t score until the second half of the fourth quarter, however, finally getting into the endzone on a Caleb Luz touchdown after the defense scooped up a fumble off a failed Marlborough lateral. 

Hudson tried to parley that score into a successful comeback, but could not get the ball back late, letting Marlborough run down the game clock to win this 119th year of local Thanksgiving football. 

“We weren’t perfect, but we did what we needed to do,” Mahoney said after the win.

“We didn’t have too many big plays, it was a battle in the trenches,” he continued. “We’re physical and that’s what we hoped to do.”

McAnespie blamed turnovers and untimely penalties for contributing to his team’s loss.  

“That’s going to hurt us against a good team like that,” he said.

Still, McAnespie celebrated his squad.

“They’re good, our kids played tough,” he said. “I’m proud of our kids.”

The win was a welcome high point for the Panthers just a matter of weeks after a heartbreaking sequence of big plays sealed their fate on the road against Grafton. 

For Mahoney, the close game also signaled a possible change in the nature of a rivalry that has seen a number of lopsided final scores in recent years. 

“They’re definitely on the upswing,” he said of Hudson. “They had some excellent seniors but they also have some excellent underclassmen returning. This is going to be how games are played for the foreseeable future with Hudson and Marlborough. I don’t think it’s going to be some of the recent past where we were just flat out better than them. It’s going to be a battle.”