By Greg Story CORRESPONDENT
Newburyport Daily News
---- — NEWBURYPORT – It may have been a slow start to the season for Newburyport after going 3-3 through their first six games, but the Clippers have found the right time to get off the snide as they’ve opened league play with two straight wins following a 35-15 drubbing of Triton Saturday morning.
The Clippers were given a nice lift from Tyler Cusack (12 rushes, 108 yards, 3 TD), as the senior captain found the end-zone in each of Newburyport’s opening three drives to start the game with a 21-0 lead.
“They’re a dangerous team, and I think it was important for us to go out there and jump on them early and establish the tempo of the game,” Newburyport coach Ed Gaudiano said following the game. “For what they do offensively, they have the capability of scoring from anywhere on the field, and I think we kind of took that away from them.”
Following a three-and-out in the Vikings opening drive, it took the Clippers just seven plays to march 73 yards en route to Cusack’s first strike of the day.
After another stalled drive from the Triton offense, a hook-up from Connor Wile (8 for 9 passing, 155 yards, 2 TDs) to Ian Michaels helped set up a second score from Cusack from 15 yards out.
The Clippers were then given a gift on a fumbled snap that set them up on the Vikings 33-yard-line. The botched snap ultimately led to Cusack rumbling in again to get the Clippers in front 21-0 at the midway point of the second quarter.
“He runs tough every week,” Gaudiano said of Cusack. “This was a game where I saw him kind of get his extra yards on efforts from the line of scrimmage. A lot of times you see him fight real hard on the line and bust it, but today I think he had some good support.”
The same could not be said for Triton, as struggles at the offensive line led to swarms of Clippers in the Viking backfield throughout the first half.
“We’re very inconsistent,” Triton coach Pat Sheehan said of his team’s play at the line. “We seem to make gains and then we take two steps backwards. Newburyport got after it with their front four, and we didn’t respond.”
Following the third Cusack score, subsequent Clipper drives resulted in a touchdown run from Wile from a yard out, and later a 39-yard pass from Wile to Ian Michaels on Newburyport’s first drive of the third quarter. The Clippers’ second team unit took over from there.
An accurate day from behind center for Wile, who threw just one incompletion, was a nice positive for Gaudiano’s team moving forward. The senior quarterback is returning from a shoulder injury suffered last baseball season.
“He’s coming along. We kind of limit what he can do. Gradually, we’re ramping everything up, though, and he’s coming along with us,” Gaudiano said.
The Vikings may have found a bright spot moving forward as well. Sophomore running back Tyler Figueredo helped anchor a strong attack from Triton’s second unit with 66 yards on seven carries, and quarterback Justin Cashman (8-17 passing, 87 yards, 2 TD) looked much more comfortable playing with the second unit, scoring on passes of 33 and 23 yards in the fourth quarter.
“They hit us in the mouth, and we never hit back until the younger guys got in there in the second half,” Sheehan said.