By Dylan Panzarella

MediaNews

WORCESTER -- It was a brisk opening night down at Foley Stadium as the North Middlesex Regional football team fell to Doherty High, 27-19, to kick off the 2013 season.

A fumble on the Patriots' opening drive got the Patriots off on the wrong foot, leading to a quick Doherty touchdown. While North Middlesex struggled to get started, with drives ending in a punt and another fumble, the Highlanders took a dominating 21-0 lead.

North Middlesex refused to go away, however, battling back to make it 21-19 at one point late in the contest.

"It was a great effort and we showed a lot of great things, but it's not a win," North Middlesex head coach Sandy Ruggles said. "We made some mistakes against a team you can't make mistakes against.

"There was no quit and I'm excited for the opportunity to get better next week."

The North Middlesex comeback bid began with a late-second-quarter touchdown run by senior Dylan Woods, and eventually stretched to 19 unanswered points.

Soon after the Patriots pulled within two points early in the fourth quarter, however, Doherty responded with a game-clinching touchdown pass. North Middlesex plays its home-opener tonight against Westborough at 7 p.m.