At that point, Newburyport led 14-0 with 7:24 remaining in the third quarter, and the Clipper defense carried the momentum in the subsequent series by forcing a turnover on downs on their own 45-yard-line.
However, the momentum soon shifted to Marblehead for good. On Newburyport’s first play from scrimmage on offense, quarterback Drew Bourdeau threw an interception to Marblehead defensive back Zac Cuzner. The senior returned the pick 52 yards for a touchdown, closing Newburyport’s lead to 14-7.
Marblehead coach James Rudloff said his halftime adjustments had no bearing on the change of momentum in the second half.
“You can come out with the all the zest in the world after halftime, but the other team is still physically beating you up,” Rudloff said. “Had it been any other night, I think we would have come out in the second half and scored 40 points. Unfortunately, it was the same guys out there, and they were still better than us.”
Newburyport was not the better team on the scoreboard due, in part, to the turnover discrepancy in the second half. Bourdeau threw another costly interception early in the fourth quarter on a lengthy drive that extended as far as the Marblehead 9-yard-line. A holding penalty pushed Newburyport back to the 17. Then, looking at third-and-16 from the Marblehead 17, Bourdeau threw an interception to Matt Millett in the end zone. A Newburyport field goal on the next down likely would have sealed the victory.
Instead, Marblehead drove 80 yards over five plays to tie it 14-14 with 5:35 remaining. Neither team threatened to score in the final minutes of regulation.
“Defensively, we were lights out,” Rudloff said. “I don’t think we could have played a better defensive game. Offensively, I’d say this was our worst game, but saying that, it’s the best defensive team we’ve played — certainly the best defensive front.”