AMESBURY — The honking car horns and celebratory screams emanating from the surrounding grounds of Landry Stadium yesterday could only signal one thing: The Amesbury football team’s season will continue past Thanksgiving Day for the first time since 2008.
The Indians (9-2 overall, 5-0 CAL) put an exclamation point on their regular season with a 13-10 victory over Newburyport in a Thanksgiving game that decided which of the two teams would represent Cape Ann League Division 3 in the Eastern Mass. playoffs.
Amesbury, which won its most recent league title during its Super Bowl season of 2008, will play CAL Division 4 champion Lynnfield (8-2, 5-0) Tuesday evening in the Division 3A semifinal at a site to be determined.
With the score tied at 10-10 with 7:01 remaining in the game, Amesbury kicker Mac Short converted his second field goal — this time from 32 yards — to give the Indians a 13-10 lead it would not relinquish. Short also connected from 27 yards in the third quarter in his first field-goal attempt of the season.
The Amesbury defense then stood firm over the final 5:55, allowing only one first down over two Newburyport possessions. Amesbury ran this season’s winning streak to eight with the victory. The Indians also snapped a three-game Thanksgiving Day losing streak, marking the first time since their Super Bowl season in which they beat Newburyport.
“Those field goals were gigantic because (Newburyport) is so tough down in the red zone,” Amesbury coach Thom Connors said. “We decided to go for field goals rather than go for it on fourth downs. It turned out to be the right decision.”
Amesbury came into the game averaging 30.4 points per game on offense, but figured to have tougher sledding against a Newburyport defense that held opponents to an average of 12.4 points. With 10 days to prepare for each other, both teams unveiled new offensive schemes from the start. Amesbury started in a spread attack rather than the pistol wing-T it had employed for much of the season, and Newburyport used a Wildcat formation with Colton Fontaine taking snaps rather than its standard look with Connor Wile behind center.