Joe Clancy doesn’t appear to have missed a beat since leading the nation in passing yards per game as a junior at Merrimack College last fall.
Opening his senior football season against Division 1-AA Wagner Friday, Clancy led the Warriors on a game-winning 96-yard scoring drive in the final minutes. Merrimack trailed 41-35 with just over five minutes to play against the preseason Division 1-AA Northeast Conference favorite Wagner.
Clancy capped the drive by finding Shane Ferguson for a 3-yard, decisive strike with 30 seconds remaining in the season opener. The PAT by Nick Zwaan sealed it, 42-41. After watching a 15-point lead evaporate, the Warriors had to rally from a 34-28 deficit midway through the fourth. Clancy found Greg Devine with 8:15 left. But Wagner regained the lead as Dominique Williams capped off a nine-play drive with a 3-yard scoring run. That set up The Drive.
The Warriors took over on their own 5 and marched the length of the field with a series of clutch plays. Quinn McDonough’s 20-yard run put the ball in Seahawk territory. A 13-yard pass to Jere Brown got the ball into the red zone. Two plays later, Clancy found Ferguson on an out route to the right side, and the slot receiver sliced around the defense and crossed the plane to cap off likely the biggest win in program history.
Clancy, the record-setting fifth-year senior from Newburyport, finished with four touchdowns and 309 yards passing while completing a sizzling 70 percent of his passes to give new head coach Dan Curran an unforgettable win. After holding a 280-134 advantage after the first half in total yards, Merrimack finished with a 433-418 lead in total offense, averaging 5.2 yards per play. Merrimack opens up Northeast-10 Conference action Friday at AIC at 6 p.m.
The Newburyport cross-country teams hosted the Clipper Relays at Maudslay State Park Saturday. More than 30 schools and 1,250 runners participated in total, making it the largest local high school event of the year. The Newburyport boys placed fourth overall in the 3 x 2-mile relay. Junior Nick Carleo ran one of the fastest anchor legs in the meet. The Clippers finished behind first-place Lowell, second-place Peabody and third-place Chelmsford. St. John’s Prep finished fifth behind Newburyport.