By Bob Albright
---- — BEDFORD — The bad news for the Newburyport football team last night was that the Clippers dropped their first ever Div. 4 North playoff to an impressive Bedford squad, 20-7.
The upside? The new MIAA playoffs are not “one-and-done” and the Clippers will now play the loser of today’s Lynnfield-Stoneham contest.
“I tried to tell our guys that by us getting into that playoff bracket that we have two more games against quality opponents,” said Newburyport coach Ed Gaudiano. “It’s not like we’re in the non-playoff round. In the next two weeks we’re going to get two real good teams.”
Unfortunately for the Clippers, they also saw a real good team last night. Bedford tailback Olan Abner rushed for 148 yards and a score on 28 carries and a lightning quick Bedford defense gave the Clippers very little wiggle room on offense.
Facing a prolific Bedford defense which had surrendered less than 40 points all season long, Newburyport finally got on the scoreboard with 3:43 left to play in the contest. Senior Trevor Bradbury (18 rushes, 82 yards), who had a terrific two-way game for the Clippers before leaving with a shoulder injury late, scored from 1-yard out to cap a seven-play 55-yard drive.
The Clippers’ Dillon Guthro would pounce on the ensuing onside kick, but the Clippers could not convert on downs and Abner and the Buccaneers ran out the clock.
“We knew that they were very fast and very aggressive,” said Gaudiano of the Buccaneers’ tenacious defensive unit. “I thought we were doing some things there that would have countered that, but ultimately we would get things going and then we would shoot ourselves in the foot.”
Suffice it to say, the Clippers put two big bullets in their cleats in the first half.
First, a promising seven-play drive was halted by a fumble at the Bedford 41. Four plays later, the unrelenting Abner rumbled 30 yards around left end for the game’s first score.
With eight minutes to play in the second half, the Buccaneers doubled their advantage when Bedford defensive back Bobby McDonald intercepted Newburyport QB Michael Shay at the Clipper 30 and sprinted down the Newburyport sidelines to make it a 13-0 advantage.
The Clippers were able to move the ball against the stingy Buccaneer defense in the first half behind Bradbury who rushed for 68 yard in the first two quarters. The option was the big play for Newburyport as the speedy back was able to find some nice daylight on the outside.
“They’ve got great team speed, but so do we,” said Gaudiano, who also lost two-way lineman Seamus Sullivan to a knee injury. “Now we are a little banged up and we are going to have to try and regroup.”
Shay connected with six different receivers for Newburyport, including a nifty 20-yard hookup with Drew Bourdeau on fourth down to move the chains. Junior Jonathan Bajko caught a pair of balls and also deflected away a would-be touchdown pass on defense in the second half.
Bedford 20, Newburyport 7
Sabourin Football Stadiun, Bedford
Newburyport 0 0 0 7 - 7Bedford 7 6 0 7 - 20
First quarterB – Olan Abner 30 run (Branson Leonard kick) 5:26
B – Bobby McDonald 30 interception return (kick failed) 7:16
B – Mike Hayes 25 pass from Joe Zambell (Leonard Kick) 6:07
N – Trevor Bradbury 1 run return (Brandon Trego kick) 3:43
Rushing: N – Bradbury 18-82; Michael Shay, 4-41; Ethan Northey 2-19; Jonathan Bajko 1-13; Peter Greene 1-7; B – Abner 23-148; Aaron Lee 3-17: McDonald 7-27.
Passing: N – Shay 7-17-68-0-1. B – Joseph Zampell 4-7-42-1-0.
Receiving: N –Northey 1-20; Bajko 2-15; Drew Bourdeau 1-20; Tyler Therrien 1-11; Bradbury 1-11; Greene 1-9. B– McDonald 1-17; Hayes 1-25; Abner 1 (-2).