By Dan Guttenplan
---- — AMESBURY — The Pentucket football team proved last night that life does not end with the graduation of Cody Rothwell.
After the longest preseason in the school’s history, the Sachems opened with an exclamation point, dominating Amesbury to the tune of a 42-7 victory at Landry Stadium in Amesbury.
With many wondering who Pentucket coach Steve Hayden would call upon to replace Rothwell, who rushed for 2,019 yards and 21 touchdowns last season, the Sachems opened the game with a long passing play — a 61-yard scoring strike from senior quarterback Ryan Kuchar to Jeff Porter.
“We have a senior quarterback who has a good arm,” Hayden said. “Nobody is going to replace Cody Rothwell. You don’t get kids like that all the time. We’ll do it by committee.”
The Sachems (1-0) were on the board with a 7-0 lead before 20 seconds were gone in the first quarter, and they tacked on another touchdown and extra point less than five minutes later.
The game was decided at the line of scrimmage, as Pentucket dominated on both sides of the ball. Amesbury (0-2) was held to 66 rushing yards on 28 carries — an average of 2.4 yards per carry. On the other hand, Pentucket rushed for 283 yards on 32 carries — good for an average of 8.8 yards per carry.
Amesbury has allowed 82 points in two games.
“We’re young on defense,” Amesbury coach Thom Connors said. “We really only have two guys with defensive experience from last year, and it’s showing. We’re in position to make plays, we’re in the right defense, we’re just not making plays. We arm-tackled and missed tackles all night.”
Pentucket looked sharp in just about every aspect of the game with Kuchar finishing an efficient 5-of-8 passing for 101 yards and two touchdowns. Porter caught both touchdowns, and added an interception on defense and a fumble recovery on special teams.
“He’s a kid that’s worked really hard,” Hayden said of Porter. “We’re all happy with what he’s done.”
For Amesbury’s part, despite the discrepancy in the final score and total yardage, the Indians hung in there until the fourth quarter, taking a 21-7 deficit into the final period.
“I’m not discouraged,” Connors said. “We still have a long way to go in the season. The problem is we don’t have depth. We got a little banged up, and the next thing you know, we had five or six sophomores on defense. By the time this is all done, we’ll be a pretty good football team.”
Amesbury will play at Lynnfield (1-0) Saturday at 1 p.m. Pentucket will play its home-opener Saturday against Triton (2-0) in what suddenly seems like a huge game in the Cape Ann League Large.
“We had the longest preseason in our history,” Hayden said. “We had four weeks of preseason. It’s good to play a game finally.”
Pentucket 42, Amesbury 7
Landry Stadium, Amesbury
P — 14 7 0 21 — 42
A — 0 7 0 0 — 7
P — Jeff Porter 61 reception from Ryan Kuchar (Nick Zaia kick), 10:44.
P — Kuchar 1 run (Zaia kick), 6:05.
A — Ben Cullen 1 run (Mac Short kick), 7:02.
P — Porter 19 reception from Kuchar (Zaia kick), 0:10.
P — Kuchar 10 run (Zaia kick), 10:55.
P — Chris Croteau 80 run (Zaia kick), 7:55.
P — Kyle Messier 60 run (Zaia kick), 2:33.
Rushing: P — Darren Engelke 9-54, Porter 9-41, Croteau 5-91-1, Kuchar 4-11-2, Messier 2-66-1, Noah Malhi 1-11, Nick Arcadipane 1-8, Brennan McGuirk 1-1. A — Cullen 9-17-1, Short 7-14, Alex Mercier 4-11, Doug Masi 4-7, Brad Kelleher 2-11, Spencer Fournier 1-4, Rey Melis 1-2.
Passing: P — Kuchar 5-8-101-2-0. A — Short 6-13-77-0-1, Kelleher 0-1-0-0-1.
Receiving: P — Porter 2-80-2, Engelke 2-13, Liam Corkery 1-8. A — Pat Scanlon 4-73, Cullen 1-4, Ryan Foley 1-0.