NEWBURYPORT — If your name is Andrew and you were wearing a white Pentucket jersey Saturday morning, chances are you had a good day.
With top running backs Austin Senfleben and Dylan O’Rourke wearing street clothes on the sideline nursing injuries, Pentucket needed to look elsewhere for production on the ground. Luckily, senior Andrew Joyce and junior Andrew Melone were up for the task.
Melone accounted for three touchdowns, and Joyce rushed for a game-high 148 yards and a score to lead the Sachems to a 35-7 win over rival Newburyport. With the win, Pentucket remains a perfect 5-0.
“Jokingly, we had mentioned it at the start of the week with me being back there in the Pistol (formation) because Austin was out,” said Melone. “I played running back last year, but through injuries I moved to receiver. But we put in (running plays) during practice and we like the way it looked.”
A big 6-foot-1, 180-pound workhorse, Senfleben had rushed for a team-leading 374 yards on just 33 carries. But he was forced out of last week’s game against Lynnfield.
“Guys like Austin and Dylan, you can’t replace them with just one person,” said Pentucket co-coach Dan Leary. “So it was kind of by committee today. The line stepped up, and whichever back we put in stepped up. So it was a really good team effort to replace those two guys.”
Melone finished with 38 rushing yards on nine carries and added another 52 through the air on three catches. He scored the game’s first points when he plowed in from the 5 late in the first quarter.
Newburyport (3-3) responded immediately with its best drive of the game. The Clippers drove 68 yards on 13 plays and tied the game at 7-7 when Walker Bartkiewicz scored on a 5-yard run.
But the Sachems would go on to score 28 unanswered points.
Quarterback Peter Cleary continued his solid season by finding top target Jake Etter on a 12-yard strike. The senior Etter made the catch along the sideline, and put on a nifty spin move to get past a defender and slide his way into the endzone. Then right before the half, Melone scored his second rushing TD of the day — this one from 6 yards — to make it a 21-7 game at the break.
After a strong defensive stop led by Jacob Codair (sack) and Charlie Walsh (sack, INT), Pentucket put the game out of reach when Melone fought off a defender to haul in a pretty 31-yard pass from Cleary to make it 28-7. Then for the rest of the third quarter, it was all Joyce. Over a 7-play stretch the senior carried the rock six times, and on his final carry broke a 64-yard TD to cap off the day’s scoring.
“It was the (offensive) line really,” said Melone. “We were just told to go somewhere with the ball and that’s where we go. The line just created holes all day.”
Cleary finished the day 10 of 14 through the air with two touchdowns. Etter (5-53) was his top target yet again.
Up next for Pentucket is a trip to Masconomet for a 7 p.m. kickoff Friday night.
“I think we have a special team here,” said Melone.
Pentucket 35, Newburyport 7
Pentucket (5-0): 7 14 14 0 — 35
Newburyport (3-3): 0 7 0 0 — 7
P — Andrew Melone 5 run (Aidan Tierney kick), 1:26
N — Walker Bartkiewicz 5 run (Bartkiewicz kick), 7:55
P — Jake Etter 12 pass from Peter Cleary (Tierney kick), 5:19
P — Melone 6 run (Tierney kick), 1:35
P — Melone 31 pass from Cleary (Tierney kick), 5:24
P — Andrew Joyce 64 run (Tirney kick), :44
RUSHING: PENTUCKET (28-265): Andrew Joyce 12-148, Keegan O’Keefe 1-46, Andrew Melone 9-38, Chase Dwight 2-22, Jake Etter 1-12, Peter Cleary 1-0, James Igoe 2-(-1); NEWBURYPORT (26-54): Charles Cahalane 9-21, Walker Bartkiewicz 5-17, Jacob Buontempo 6-15, Aidan Blunt 3-4, Connor Smith 1-1, Trevor Ward 1-0, Jason Tamayoshi 1-(-4)
PASSING: P — Cleary 10-14-0, 121; N — Cahalane 11-19-1, 93, Finn Sullivan 3-4-0, 25
RECEIVING: P — Etter 5-53, Melone 3-52, Owen Thornton 1-9, O’Keefe 1-7; N — Ward 7-49, Bartkiewicz 1-30, Michael Tilley 2-22, Buontempo 1-9, Tyler Foley 1-4, Sullivan 1-3, Blunt 1-3