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 a game-clinching touchdown pass.