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.
“I think their line won it in the trenches,” North Reading coach Jeff Wall said. “They stayed low and fired out hard. They always have a good line. Whenever we think of Newburyport, we think of a big line that fires out. We were fighting uphill all night.”
An uphill battle is not the type of game North Reading is built to win with its single-wing option rushing attack. The Hornets do not have a passing game, and that made their 28-7 halftime deficit seem all the more daunting. Despite the lopsided halftime score, North Reading did not attempt a pass all game.
“Physically, we really came on and did a great job,” Gaudiano said. “They’re a big, physical team that plays big, physical football. This is the best win we’ve had around here in a while, I think.”
It could prove to be a monumental win in Newburyport’s pursuit of a playoff berth. Because North Reading is a Division 4 North foe, the Clippers will receive 10 points for beating the Division 4 North foe and an additional three points for every win North Reading earns this season.
Newburyport 35, North Reading 7
World War Memorial Stadium, Newburyport
North Reading 7 0 0 0 — 7
Newburyport 14 14 0 7 — 35
N — Drew Bourdeau 85 kick return (Brandon Trego kick), 10:52.
NR — Ryan Sanborn 15 run (Angelo DiSanto kick), 7:48.
N — Michael Shay 8 run (Trego kick), 5:13.
N — Jonathan Bajko 51 reception from Shay (Trego kick), 8:46.
N — Ethan Northey 57 reception from Shay (Trego kick), 0:22.
N — Trevor Bradbury 5 run (Trego kick), 7:03.
Rushing: N – Bradbury 11-65-1; Jacob Timony 3-19; Shay 4-34-1; Northey 3-30; Cameron Beaulieu 1-2. NR — Charles McCarthy 22-81; Matthew McCarthy 6-24; Sanborn 5-22-1; John Merullo 4-30; Blake Tamlyn-Hayden 2-12; Nicholas Copelas 2-7; Nicholas Colangelo 1-4; Michael Cresta 1-2; Joseph Lennon 1-(-5).
Passing: N — Shay 6-12-165-2-2; Bourdeau 0-1-0-0-1.
Receiving: N — Northey 3-76-1; Bajko 2-80-1; Tyler Therrien 1-9.