Leading 22-13 late in the third quarter, Amesbury seemed primed to put the game away as it drove to the Saugus 11 only to see Saugus cornerback Dante DelTorto jump a slant route in the end zone and return the ball all the way to the Saugus 43. Playing on senior day, all the momentum seemed to be with the team in red, but the Indian defense answered the bell — and loudly.
A thunderous sack by Jake Taylor followed by a tackle for a loss by Alex Mercier ended the drive and turned the ball back over to Talbot and the Indians on their own 33 with seven minutes to play.
“We talked about at halftime where we wanted to get to a situation and do some ball control and we were able to do that,” said Connors of his team’s ensuing and final drive. “We have been throwing the ball quite a bit, but we knew at that point we had to rely on the run game and Matt Talbot made some great decisions back there.”
Perhaps Connors’ best decision on this day was to call his senior QB’s name five times on the drive and Talbot responded with runs of 6, 22, 11, 8 and, finally, 1 yard as he swept around left end to effectively ice the game at 29-13 with 3:33 left to play.
“He’s a tough kid, and he’s mentally tough,” said Connors of his versatile signal caller, who shook off the third quarter interception like a pro.
“I get on him hard, but he recovers and we have a great relationship. You make a mistake like that, you get chewed out, and you have to come back and play and that’s just the type of kid he is — he can’t get rattled, and he doesn’t.”
Saugus would answer one final time on Sachem quarterback C.J. Randolph’s third TD plunge of the day, but could get no closer as Indian linebacker Perry Mroz delivered the loudest hit of the game to stuff the ensuing two-point rush and Talbot recovered the onside kick.