NEWBURYPORT — The Newburyport football team looked every bit the part of a playoff contender last night when it dismantled a North Reading team that had won 10 of its previous 12 games.
The Clippers (2-1) finished off September with a 35-7 victory over North Reading at World War Memorial Stadium.
Newburyport dominated on both sides of the ball. The defense limited North Reading tailback C.J. McCarthy to 81 yards on 22 carries, far below his average of 161.0 yards and 27 carries in North Reading’s first two games.
On offense, Newburyport coach Ed Gaudiano opened up the playbook with junior quarterback Michael Shay, a first-year starter at the position who connected on 6 of 12 passes for 165 yards and two touchdowns.
“The idea was to spread the field out a little bit,” Gaudiano said. “We have some athletes out there like (Jonathan) Bajko and (Ethan) Northey, guys who can run. Michael also does well in the open field.”
Bajko and Northey were the benficiaries of Newburyport’s unveiling of the vertical passing game. Bajko had two catches for 80 yards, including a 51-yard touchdown reception. Northey had three catches for 76 yards, including a 57-yard touchdown reception.
Shay also made plays with his legs, rushing four times for 34 yards and a touchdown. He did throw two interceptions, although both came after his team had a two-touchdown lead.
“We had to window-dress a lot of things,” Gaudiano said. “(Tailback) Chance Carpenter didn’t play. We saw some things that weren’t working the past couple of weeks that we wanted to work.”
With the exception of North Reading’s opening drive on offense, the Newburyport defense didn’t allow McCarthy much breathing room when he had the ball in his hands. McCarthy had three carries for 27 yards on North Reading’s opening touchdown drive. From that point forward, he had 19 carries for 54 yards.