It was not a finesse game. Newburyport had success running the ball with its bigger backs, like Fontaine and fullback Sam Francis. The two seniors combined for 156 yards and a touchdown on 22 carries. On the other hand, speedy tailback Tyler Cusack was limited to 25 yards on 10 carries.
Amesbury also received a significant contribution from its power fullback Perry Mroz, who carried seven times for 41 yards and a touchdown. On the other hand, shifty quarterback Matt Talbot could only muster 32 yards on 15 carries.
The biggest difference in the game was the effectiveness of each team’s passing game. Talbot completed 9 of 18 passes for 124 yards, while Wile connected on 4 of 10 passes for 48 yards.
“We went in, and we knew we’d do a lot of passing,” Mroz said. “(Coach Connors) told me he’d try to ram the ball with me at the end for ball control. I knew going in I’d get the ball at the end.”
Mroz was effective moving the chains in the fourth quarter, although Newburyport had one final chance to get out of the 13-10 hole when cornerback Drew Bourdeau intercepted a Talbot pass on the Clippers’ 14-yard-line with 2:51 remaining in the game.
Newburyport’s final possession showed promise when Wile connected with Fontaine for a 22-yard pass, moving the ball to the Newburyport 41 at the two-minute warning. However, Wile, who entered the final drive with only six passing attempts, threw three incompletions in the final four plays to force a turnover on downs.
“They’re a good team,” Newburyport coach Ed Gaudiano said of Amesbury. “Hopefully they go a long way in the playoffs and represent the league well.”
Newburyport struck first on its opening possession of the first quarter, marching 60 yards in 14 plays for a touchdown. Perhaps feeling as if his team needed to take a few chances to win the game, Gaudiano left his offense on the field for two fourth-down plays on the drive. Francis converted the second — a fourth-and-4 — with a 15-yard touchdown run.