A wild second half saw Amesbury come within one-point of Ipswich with less than five minutes remaining in the game, but the Tigers got the opening week win, 25-24, at the Indians’ Landry Memorial Stadium.
Ipswich chose to receive to begin the game, and moved swiftly. Cole Terry ran for 25 yards during their opening eight-play drive, setting up Josh Mallette for a 20-yard touchdown dash to give the Tigers the 6-0 lead.
Drew MacDonald took the resulting kickoff 35 yards to start the Indians’ first possession. A 10-yard run by Jeremy Lopez brought Amesbury within striking distance of the end zone, but two incomplete passes led to a turnover on downs.
Kyle Donovan sacked Ipswich’s Cam James to start the next possession, and the next two drives showcased both Amesbury and Ipswich’s defenses, with the Tigers being stymied at their own 49 on that drive and forcing the Indians to turnover the ball three plays into the next.
In the second quarter, Ipswich threatened again with a variety of rushers, but tackles from Amesbury’s Miles Franey and Casey Birdsall limited their gains. Jack Macklin led a strong Tigers front on the next drive, forcing the Indians to punt — but what a punt it was. Ruairi Cleary-Bentley’s foot sent the ball 57 yards.
Despite being deep in their own territory, James led an efficient Ipswich possession. The senior QB scrambled four times on the eight play drive, setting up a seven yard touchdown pass to Justin Bruhm to put the Tigers up 12-0 with seven seconds left in the half.
But Amesbury came out of halftime inspired. Taking advantage of a failed Ipswich onside kick, it only took the Indians four plays to send Lopez on a 35 yard touchdown run. Tucker Molin rushed for the conversion to bring Amesbury within a score.
Ipswich’s rushing game took center stage on the next possession, including a 26-yard dash by Terry. James scored on a keeper to put the Tigers up by 10.
The Indians weren’t deterred. Their six-play drive concluded with a 39-yard touchdown pass from Troy Hamel to Kyle Donovan. Lopez converted the two-point attempt, bringing Amesbury within two to close the third.
In response, James calmly led the Tigers on another successful drive, capped by his 13-yard touchdown pass to Bruhm. But Joseph Tilton carried Amesbury on the next drive, which was capped by his 30-yard zig-zagging run to the end zone. The conversion run was good, bringing the Indians within one with five minutes left.
Amesbury found themselves at the Ipswich five yard line with seconds remaining, but the Tigers stuffed them to hang on for the victory.