By Greg Phipps
---- — SAUGUS — The Newburyport football team certainly played like a team desperately seeking a win Saturday at Stackpole Field.
Fullback Trevor Bradbury gained 163 yards on 14 carries and scored two touchdowns, and the defense clamped down on the Saugus offense for most of the first half, as the Clippers routed the host Sachems, 41-8, in the final Cape Ann League Kinney Division game of the season.
Newburyport, now 4-3 overall and 3-2 league, was coming off a disappointing home loss to Masconomet the week before. A victory on Saturday was necessary if the team were to keep its Division 4 playoff hopes alive.
When asked after the game if the win had secured his squad a spot in the postseason tournament, Newburyport head coach Ed Gaudiano was not sure.
“I don’t know, I really don’t. It’s the furthest thing from my mind right now,” he said. “We looked at this as a must-win game and we had a good week of practice coming in. But I don’t know how we fit into the whole playoff picture. We’ll just have to see what happens.”
The Clippers wasted no time taking care of business on their end of things. They needed just 11 plays to score their first four offensive touchdowns, never facing a third down in the process. A special teams touchdown was added to the mix, and Newburyport went into halftime holding a 35-0 lead.
Bradbury got it started by rambling 42 yards on Newburyport’s second play from scrimmage, and then taking a pitch from quarterback Michael Shay and running it in from 14 yards out at 7:19 of the first quarter.
The Clippers would score twice more in the first period to pull in front 21-0.
A 15-yard completion from Shay to Drew Bourdeau set up Newburyport on the Saugus 29. Two plays later Bradbury broke through for a 30-yard score, which was soon followed by a 28-yard return of blocked punt by Nicholas LaValley after Jonathan Bajko raced in untouched to block the punt attempt.
Taking advantage of excellent field position, the Clippers continued the onslaught in the second quarter.
Dillon Guthro blew through the Sachems defense for a 31-yard TD, and Shay later dashed 29 yards for the fifth Clipper touchdown. Brandon Trego was successful on all five of his point-after kick attempts.
Meanwhile, as the offense was firing on all cylinders, the Newburyport defense was shutting down Saugus’ offensive attack, holding the Sachems, who fell to 1-6 overall and 1-4 league, without a first down on their first five possessions. The home team finally got a drive going late in the first half, managing three first downs, before it petered out on the Clipper 14.
“All week we worked on stopping their triple-option offense, which is tough to go up against,” said Gaudiano. “We were able to shut it down. The kids did a good job. They stayed with their responsibilities and tackled the right guys coming through on the option.”
Saugus QB Justin Winn (44 yards rushing) engineered a 51-yard scoring drive in the third quarter, which was helped along by a 24-yard completion from running back Marcus Atkins to Adam DiChiara to get the ball inside the Clippers 20. Winn eventually surged in from six yards out for the lone Saugus TD at 4:12 of the period. He also passed to Alex Pettanati for the two-point conversion.
The Clippers installed many of their backups as the second half progressed. QB Henry Francis tossed a short screen pass to Conor Brennan on the final play of the game, and Brennan ended up finding open space and racing 64 yards for the game’s final points. Defensive lineman Seamus Sullivan also sacked Winn for an 8-yard loss in the first half.