By David Willis Correspondent
Newburyport Daily News
---- — WEST NEWBURY — Pentucket appeared to be on the verge of its signature victory of the season before Amesbury grabbed back control of the Cape Ann League Division 3 title.
Amesbury’s Ben Cullen hauled in an 11-yard pass that had been tipped into the air for the touchdown that tied the game with one second remaining in the fourth quarter. Mac Short then booted through the extra point that gave the Indians a 21-20 victory Saturday afternoon.
With 32 seconds left in the game, star running back Cody Rothwell dove through the air and into the end zone for the touchdown that capped an epic drive and gave the Sachems a 20-14 lead.
Pentucket then missed the subsequent point-after, leaving Amesbury a window for victory.
“What looked like a heart-breaking kind of defeat turned into an incredible win,” Amesbury coach Thom Connors said. “I’ve been coaching 30 years, and I don’t think I’ve ever been more proud of a comeback. That was a must-win situation for them, and desperation had come upon us. We found a way to win against a real tough team.”
With the score just 7-6 Amesbury heading into the final quarter, the game quickly turned into a shootout.
Three plays into the fourth quarter, Cody Rothwell finished off an 11-play drive with an 11-yard touchdown. He added the 2-point conversion to give the Sachems a 14-7 lead.
Pentucket then held Amesbury to a 3-and-out to force a punt, but turned the ball over two plays later at its own 14-yard line.
The Sachems held tough to force a fourth-and-goal. But, on fourth down, Matt Talbot was able to avoid pressure and swing a pass out to Tom Connors. Connors was met at the goal line by Luke Strangeman, but the play was ruled a touchdown to make the score 14-14 with 3:39 to go.
The Sachems, however, were not about to go away.
Pentucket took over at their 33-yard line and produced another methodical 11-play drive that Rothwell finished with his acrobatic touchdown, diving vertical to the ground and sailing into the end zone with 0:32 left.
“Our guys fought back and did not give up,” said Hayden. “But we couldn’t make that last play.”
With the game on the line, Amesbury QB Talbot, who was just 6-for-16 throwing with three interceptions heading into the final drive, completed all four of his passes. The last was the most dramatic, with the ball tipped into the air by Devin Gobeil and into the hands of teammate Cullen for the tying score. Short then finished off the dramatics with the PAT.
“These kids are resilient,” said Hayden. “Hats off to Amesbury, and I know we will do everything we can to be ready for Thanksgiving.”
Rothwell runs wild again: It was another dazzling game for Rothwell.
The senior running back carried 25 times for 222 yards and two touchdowns and caught a pass for a 59-yard score. It marked the fourth time this season he has gone over 200 yards in a game, including three of the last four games. He now has 1,738 rushing yards for the season.
He also had an interception and made 12 tackles.