NEWBURYPORT — The good news for the Newburyport football team after its opening-night victory Lynnfield is that first-year starting quarterback Drew Bourdeau is the least of its worries going forward.
Bourdeau did enough to keep his team out of the loss column last night in a 7-6 victory over the Pioneers on opening night at World War Memorial Stadium. The story of the game was Lynnfield’s turnovers. The Pioneers lost two fumbles, and quarterback Michael Karavetsos, a three-year starter, threw two interceptions. All the while, Newburyport junior quarterback Drew Bourdeau, who was making his first varsity start at quarterback as an injury fill-in for Connor Wile, did not commit a single turnover.
On the whole, though, the Pioneers won just about every other statistical battle except the turnovers and final score. They racked up 358 yards of total offense to Newburyport’s 244. They ran 60 offensive plays to Newburyport’s 50.
“I feel lucky because Lynnfield played hard, and for the most part, dominated the line of scrimmage,” Newburyport coach Ed Gaudiano said. “We have a lot of things to clean up.”
Bourdeau improved as the game went along for Newburyport. His first seven drop-backs could not have gone much worse. After those eight plays, Bourdeau completed 1 of 5 passes for 10 yards, and he took two sacks for a total loss of 27 yards. From that point early in the second quarter, Bourdeau completed 7 of 13 passes for 101 yards, and did not take another sack.
He finished 8 of 18 passing for 111 yards, and most importantly, with a win in his first varsity start.
“I think he did alright,” Gaudiano said of Boudreau, who will hold down the fort until Wile returns from an injury later this month. “There are things we’ll look at. For him, it’s just a process of playing that position at game speed. He’s never seen it. It’s a learning experience, and maybe he could make quicker decisions, but I think he did well.”
Newburyport jumped on the board on its first offensive possession when senior tailback Tyler Cusack asserted himself. Likely looking to take some pressure off of Boudreau, Cusack sparked an eight-play, 75-yard drive with five carries for 66 yards and a 1-yard touchdown. Brandon Trego drilled an extra point, which would prove vital to the win, with 4:12 remaining in the first quarter.
For the remaining 35 minutes of the game, Newburyport survived one Lynnfield punch after the next. In Lynnfield’s final drive before the half, Pioneers quarterback Karavetsos moved his team inside the Newburyport 25-yard-line with less than two minutes remaining. He then threw the first of two interceptions to Clippers defensive standout, cornerback Trevor Bradbury. In addition to the two interceptions, Bradbury had a fumble recovery and a sack.
In the second half, the Pioneers moved the ball well in their opening possession before receiver Anthony Costa fumbled just after picking up a first down near midfield. Newburyport linebacker Jacob Timony recovered.
Later in the third quarter, Lynnfield finally sustained a drive that was not interrupted by a turnover. The big play was a 41-yard pass from Karavetsos to Andrew Gallo, which moved the ball down to the Newburyport 5. Karavetsos then rushed it in from there, closing the Newburyport lead to 7-6. Then, in the defining play of the game, Lynnfield kicker Alex Roper had his extra-point attempt blocked after a low snap.
Timony made another big defensive play in the fourth quarter, recording a sack on a third-and-7 in the midst of a Lynnfield drive. But the player of the fourth quarter for Newburyport was punter Sam Francis. The Newburyport senior had three successful punts — one in which he evaded a Lynnfield rusher, turned upfield, and got off the punt; another in which he just got off the punt over an outstreched arm of a Lynnfield rusher; and another in which he pinned Lynnfield inside its own 5-yard-line with less than 1:30 remaining.
“I knew it would be a battle,” Lynnfield coach Neal Wideman said. “I felt we had a shot at winning, but we shot ourselves in the foot too many times. You can’t overcome that many penalties and turnovers, not against a good team.”
Newburyport 7, Lynnfield 6
World War Memorial Stadium
L — 0 0 6 7 — 6
N — 7 0 0 0 — 7
N — Tyler Cusack 1 run (Brandon Trego kick), 4:12
L — Michael Karavetsos 5 run (kick blocked), 0:44
N — Cusack 21-118; Drew Bourdeau 5-7; Ian Michaels 3-1; Caleb Stott 1-7. L — Karavetsos 18-54; Kyle McGah 16-103; Tyler Palumbo 13-104; Anthony Costa 1-5; Matthew Kramich 1-0.
N — Bourdeau 8-18-111-0-0. L — Karavetsos 6-16-92-0-2.
Receiving: N — Colton Fontaine 3-47; Ian Michaels 2-24; Evan Habib 2-16; Sam Francis 1-24. L — Andrew Gallo 3-74; Kramich 1-7; Anthony Mancini 1-6; Alexander Pascucci 1-5.