By Dan Guttenplan
---- — AMESBURY — The North Reading football team is determined to prove it belonged in the Division 4 playoffs, and Amesbury was on the receiving end of that statement last evening.
The Hornets (5-4) posted a victory in Amesbury for the first time in program history, 42-28, at James J. Landry Stadium in the Division 4 North non-playoff bracket. Last night brought North Reading’s winning streak to three, and it marked the second straight week the Hornets scored 42 points.
Since the Hornets had their backs against the wall on the final week of the regular season — needing a win to remain in consideration for a playoff berth — they have recorded 14-plus point victories over Pentucket, Winthrop and North Reading. North Reading did not make the playoffs due to Hamilton-Wenham’s automatic entry as a top-two finisher in the Cape Ann League Baker Division.
“At one point, we thought we had a shot at the playoffs as the No. 8 team,” Wall said. “Hamilton-Wenham got the automatic bid, and that woke our kids up a little bit. All we talked about was showing people we deserved to be in the upper bracket.”
North Reading jumped to a 20-0 lead last night due, in part, to its ability to capitalize on Amesbury’s mistakes. The Indians started the game with an impressive drive inside the North Reading 10, but they didn’t come away with a single point after Mac Short was intercepted by Blake Tamlyn-Hayden in the end zone.
North Reading took control in the second quarter when Tamlyn-Hayden broke a 45-yard touchdown run to make it 14-0. On the ensuing kickoff, North Reading recovered a loose ball that deflected off an Amesbury player’s helmet, setting up another possession that started in Amesbury territory. C.J. McCarthy, who had 32 carries for 264 yards and five touchdowns, finished off that drive a few minutes later to give North Reading a 20-0 lead.
North Reading rushed for 448 yards in total.
“They didn’t do anything we weren’t prepared for,” Amesbury coach Thom Connors said. “We just couldn’t stop them. When we did, we couldn’t convert it into points. We were in a track meet, and they had some breaks that hurt us.”
Amesbury made it a game in the third quarter, when defensive lineman Sam Springis recovered a stray snap in the North Reading backfield and ran 52 yards for a score, closing North Reading’s lead to 26-21. McCarthy took over on the ensuring possession, and scored his fourth of five touchdowns four snaps later.
Amesbury trailed by no fewer than 13 points the rest of the way. Amesbury quarterback Mac Short completed 12 of 21 passes for 144 yards and a touchdown, but he did throw three costly interceptions.
“Our line stepped up and took it upon themselves,” Wall said. “We’d never won in Amesbury before, so I know our kids were fired up for that.”
North Reading 42, Amesbury 28
James J. Landry Jr. Stadium, Amesbury
NR 6 20 8 8 — 42
A 0 14 7 7 — 28
NR — C.J. McCarthy 6 run (run failed), 4:03
NR — Blake Tamlyn-Hayden 45 run (McCarthy run), 8:55
NR — McCarthy 1 run (kick failed), 4:20
A — Ryan Foley 12 run (Mac Short kick), 2:57
NR — McCarthy 3 run (run failed), 1:06
A — Ben Cullen 7 reception from Short (Short kick), 0:00
A — Sam Springis 52 fumble return (Short kick), 6:43
NR — McCarthy 2 run (McCarthy run), 4:53
NR — McCarthy 6 run (McCarthy run), 9:33
A — Short 4 run (Short kick), 4:25
Rushing: NR — McCarthy 32-264-5; Tamlyn-Hayden 11-142-1; Ryan Sanborn 11-25; Nicholas O’Connell 2-7; David Smith 1-6; A — Cullen 12-60; Short 5-18-1; Foley 2-13-1.
Passing: A — Short 12-21-144-1-3.
Receiving: A — Cullen 5-51-1; Pat Scanlon 3-67; Foley 3-17; Ray Melis 1-9.