By Justin Barrasso CORRESPONDENT
Newburyport Daily News
---- — BYFIELD — The Amesbury Indians delivered a resounding statement in their opening Cape Ann/Northeastern Division III league game by going on the road and defeating the Triton Vikings, 42-13. For a team looking to capture the conference crown, this victory represented a powerful first step.
“We’re cooking right now,” said Amesbury (5-2, 1-0) coach Thom Connors, whose team has now put up a combined 85 points – while only allowing 25 – in its past two games. “We really tried to get points on the board early so we weren’t playing catch-up, and we were able to build a lead and didn’t lose our focus.”
As effective as Indians quarterback Matt Talbot was passing (7-11-138, 2 TDs), Triton (1-6, 0-1) could not contain the Amesbury running game. The Indians produced six runners with over 20 yards for a total of 135 yards off 34 carries. Trailing early, Triton was forced to abandon most of its running game and finished with just 43 yards off of 18 carries.
“We spent all week on our blocking,” said Connors. “We really thought winning the line of scrimmage on both sides of the ball was the key for us, and we’ve got a nice stable of kids who can run. It starts with Talbot and our 220-pound tailback Perry Mroz, but it all comes down to blocking.”
Amesbury built its momentum as soon as the game kicked off.
After starting with the ball on their own 46-yard line and a 26-yard kickoff return by senior Tommy Connors, the Indians marched down the field for a 54-yard scoring drive on running back Ben Cullen’s one-yard run.
Following a pass from Triton’s Brad Whitman that popped off receiver Travis Kneeland, Mroz picked off the pass for an interception and a 16-yard return to Triton’s own 24. Talbot connected with wide receiver Devlin Gobeil for a 12-yard reception, and the Indians captured a 14-0 lead moments later when Talbot pounded the ball into the end zone from one yard out.
Amesbury scored three more times in the second quarter -- Cullen stormed into the end zone with a three-yard bolt for his second touchdown; Talbot connected with Connors for a nine-yard strike, and then hit Gobeil for a 54-yard score that gave the Indians a commanding 35-point lead at the half.
A 50-yard interception return from Connors to open the third quarter pushed the lead to 42-0.
“We wanted Amesbury to beat us throwing the ball and running out on the perimeter,” said Triton coach Patrick Sheehan. “Unfortunately, we had guys in positions to make plays, but we didn’t. To their credit, they did. Thom Connors is a tremendous coach and always has his team prepared.”
Triton fought through injuries and found a way to persevere, outscoring Amesbury by seven points in the second half. Whitman, who is evolving into one of the league’s better QBs, injured his back late in the second quarter, and bruising running back Justin Spillane was also forced to exit the game in the first half with a hip flexor injury.
“We’re a young team with a lot of skill in our sophomore and junior classes,” said Sheehan, “but we simply got beat today. We’re going to find out what type of team we are in practice this week and how we can respond.”
The Vikings fought back with two scores of their own in the second half. Freshman Nate Estabrook showed off his incredible speed, rushing for a nine-yard touchdown and having another 60-yard TD run called back by a disputed holding call. Triton found its way into the end zone on the same drive when sophomore Justin Cashman rushed for a seven-yard touchdown in the game’s final play.