By Dan Guttenplan
---- — NEWBURYPORT — Newburyport coach Ed Gaudiano was in no mood to size up his team’s playoff chances last night following his team’s 21-7 loss to Masconomet at World War Memorial Stadium.
The loss dropped the Clippers (3-3 overall, 2-2 CAL) into third place in the Cape Ann League Divsion 1 behind Pentucket (4-0, 3-0) and Masconomet (4-2, 3-1), leaving Newburyport’s playoff fate to other teams in Division 4 as it will no longer be assured an automatic bid for placing in the top two spots in the league.
The Clippers will have to hope their strength of schedule is strong enough to earn a wildcard berth.
“I don’t even think about that,” Gaudiano said. “I know we have 11 games to play, we’ll show up for 11. I don’t know if it will be in the playoff bracket or other bracket.”
The Clippers didn’t show up for last night’s game, by Gaudiano’s estimation, as Masconomet scored two first-quarter touchdowns in a span of seven seconds to take a 14-0 lead less than three minutes into the game.
Masco defensive back Corey Tines picked off Newburyport quarterback Michael Shay on the Clippers’ first offensive series, and returned the interception 45 yards for a score. Masconomet coach Jim Pugh called for an onside kick following the defensive score, and his team recovered in Newburyport territory.
On Masconomet’s first offensive play from scrimmage, Troy Bunker connected with Tines on a 50-yard touchdown pass to give the Chieftains a 14-0 lead.
“That was the turning point,” Pugh said. “Corey Tines had the pick-six and then the long pass. Then we just played defense.”
Newburyport was able to sustain drives on offense, but the Clippers couldn’t get on the board until it was too late. Twice in the first half, the Clippers moved the ball inside the Masco 10-yard-line with first-and-goal opportunities and came away with zero points.
Masco jumped out to a 21-0 advantage late in the third quarter when Troy Bunker threw his second touchdown pass — this time to Nolan Rice.
Newburyport made some noise in the fourth quarter. Shay connected with Drew Bourdeau for a 15-yard touchdown pass with 6:29 remaining in the fourth quarter, and then Newburyport tailback Trevor Bradbury appeared to break a 19-yard touchdown run with just over three minutes remaining, but that play was called back for a holding penalty and chop block.
“I don’t even know if we deserved to win at that point,” Gaudiano said. “We didn’t show up early in the game. I guess I’ll take the blame for. We gave them two plays, and then we didn’t execute on offense.”
If Masconomet can pick up a win over Triton next week, the Chieftains will most likely earn a playoff spot in Division 3 Northeast for placing second in CAL Division 1.
“It’s awesome to have this playoff system,” said Jim Pugh. “It’s great for high school football. I’m hearing from coaches who were against it, and now they’re for it.”
Masconomet 21, Newburyport 7
at World War Memorial Stadium
M — 14 0 7 0 — 21
N — 0 0 0 7 — 7
M — Corey Tines 45 interception return (kick failed), 8:23.
M — Tines 50 reception from Troy Bunker (Bunker run), 8:16.
M — Nolan Rice 9 reception from Bunker (Bunker kick), 1:39.
N — Drew Bourdeau 15 reception from Michael Shay (Brandon Trego kick), 6:29.
Rushing: N — Shay 13-14; Trevor Bradbury 12-65; Jacob Timony 6-44; Ethan Northey 2-5; Chance Carpenter 1-2; M — Mackenzie Cashin 11-66; Bunker 9-27; Gavin Monagle 4-8; Austin Cashin 2-8; Harry Cwik 1-6; Mike McCay 1-2; Tines 1-1.
Passing: N — Shay 4-11-29-1-2; M — Bunker 6-8-85-2-0; Tines 0-1-0-0-0.
Receiving: N — Bourdeau 2-26-1; Northey 1-5; Jonathan Bajko 1-(-2); M — Tines 2-57-1; Rice 2-16-1; Cwik 2-12.