STONEHAM — Early on, Newburyport looked primed for a big win Saturday at Stoneham High School.
Before the first quarter of Saturday’s contest was even halfway completed, the Clippers had scored on their first two drives and led 14-0. But any thoughts of a runaway victory were quickly put to rest, as the Stoneham Spartans ramped up their offense and shut out the visitors in the second half on their way to a 48-27 triumph.
The Clippers, now 4-5 on the season, battled back to take a 27-26 halftime advantage after Stoneham had scored on four straight possessions. Newburyport wouldn’t reach the end zone again, however, as all 22 second-half points belonged to the Spartans.
“We got that 14-0 lead and then we laid an egg. It’s as simple as that,” said Clippers head coach Ed Gaudiano, who was clearly disappointed with his team’s performance after a hard-fought Division 4 playoff loss at Bedford the previous week.
“(Stoneham) just took it to us, especially in the second half, and we blinked. We made a lot of poor decisions and poor plays today. We didn’t play with much intensity — it wasn’t a good game for us.”
Newburyport did get strong individual efforts from running back Ethan Northey (147 yards rushing), quarterback Michael Shay (147 yards through the air) and receiver Drew Bourdeau (a highlight-reel TD reception). But Stoneham’s RB Darius McPherson, who amassed 151 yards on the ground, quarterback Matt Lowe, who threw for 218 yards, and receiver Dylan Owens, who caught seven passes for 183 yards, stole the show.
McPherson rambled for three scores. One of those was for 50 yards that gave the Spartans their first lead at 20-14 early in the second quarter, and another a four-yarder that regained the lead at 26-21 late in the first half.
“I think they were averaging around 14 points a game before today, but they had it going against us,” said Gaudiano, when asked about Stoneham’s 474 total yards of offense Saturday. “They executed their plays well and they wanted it more than we did. Give them credit.”