By Dan Harrison CORRESPONDENT
Newburyport Daily News
---- — IPSWICH — The Newburyport football team continued its struggles in the red zone in Saturday’s 13-7 road win over Ipswich as both teams brought the defensive intensity for all four quarters.
Tyler Cusack broke a 29-yard touchdown run on a toss to the left to cap off Newburyport’s first drive of the game. Late in the second quarter, the Clippers made it 13-0 when senior captain and fullback Samuel Francis took a handoff up the middle and pushed his way into the endzone from 13 yards out.
Meanwhile, Newburyport held Ipswich to just 24 rushing yards the entire game.
“I think we’re good against the run,” Clippers head coach Ed Gaudiano said. “We have been that way all season. Our guys work hard getting to the ball. I don’t think we do anything fancy. It’s just a good attitude we have defensively.”
Ipswich managed only 117 yards of total offense and had it not been for a 78-yard kickoff return by John Elnagger just before the end of the first half, the Tigers would’ve posted a goose egg.
But Newburyport was far from perfect.
Outside of Francis’ touchdown run, the team couldn’t find its rhythm in the red zone or on the important fourth-down plays. The Tigers halted a Clippers drive just six yards shy of a touchdown when Elnagger blitzed on a fourth and short, sacking Newburyport signal caller Drew Bourdeau for a four-yard loss.
“We struggled a bit when we would get down in the red zone and offensively that’s something we have to correct before we line up and play next week,” Gaudiano said. “These next ones count for the (Northeastern Conference/Cape Ann League Tier three) league.”
Francis was extremely productive for the Clippers, grounding out 110 yards on 13 carries while giving starting tailback Tyler Cusack (23-94) a break from carrying the complete load. On Francis’ touchdown run, he was met at the 8-yard line and appeared to be stopped, but he kept his legs churning and carried some Ipswich tacklers, along with some Newburyport blockers, across the goal line with him.
“I had a feeling (Newburyport) passed too much (last week) against Marblehead, and thought they would try to just pound us and establish themselves as a physical team,” Ipswich coach Ted Flaherty said.