LYNNFIELD — After a first half in which they were dominated possession-wise by host Lynnfield, the Newburyport Clippers appeared to turn around the complexion of Saturday’s game when they scored on their opening drive of the second half to pull ahead 7-6.
But that momentum was lost in a flash, as the Pioneers’ Matthew Kramich took the ensuing kickoff and ran it back 76 yards for a score, giving the home team the lead back for good and catapulting Lynnfield to a 21-13 victory in the season-opener for both squads at Pioneer Field.
The defeat was only the second the Clippers have suffered against Lynnfield since 2004. Newburyport had won the last three meetings between the two teams entering Saturday’s game.
Led by first-year quarterback Michael Shay (9 for 15 for 98 yards passing), Newburyport opened the third period by engineering a 10-play, 63-yard drive, which culminated in tailback Chance Carpenter’s touchdown run of three yards with 5:40 showing on the third-quarter clock. Brandon Trego connected on the point-after kick, and the Clippers had themselves a one-point advantage, albeit a short-lived one.
“If anything, we just put the ball in the air a little more,” said Clippers head coach Ed Gaudiano, when asked about second-half adjustments. “(Lynnfield) had the middle clogged up pretty good against us. You saw their size. We didn’t have much success with our fullback game, and that forced us to the outside and made us a little more one-dimensional.”
Shay attempted 10 of his 15 passes in the second half.
Newburyport did do most of its offensive damage on the outside, as the Pioneer defense was stingy up the middle. The Clippers were able to effectively utilize their speed and quickness at times, especially in the second half. The third-quarter scoring drive was aided by a 29-yard jaunt by fullback Trevor Bradbury and a 15-yard late-hit penalty.