Amesbury Indians Football '07

Fri, Nov 02, 2007 07:00 PM @ Amesbury
Team Q1 Q2 Q3 Q4 Final
North Reading 0 12 0 8 20
Amesbury 7 14 7 7 35

Amesbury's big plays topple North Reading

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Saturday, November, 03 By Chuck Frye
Staff writer

AMESBURY — At the start, North Reading's battle with Amesbury was football's version of a home run derby, with each team going deep to score points.

But as the game went along, the Indians stayed disciplined behind an unstoppable offense. The Hornets, on the other hand, clicked on a few big conversions but saw other crucial attempts fail.

Starting the game's scoring as well as finishing it, Amesbury stayed in the Cape Ann League small school division title hunt with a key 35-20 victory over North Reading, which falls out of the race at 1-2, 5-4 overall.

"After our loss to Hamilton-Wenham last week, to stay alive we had to win (last night)," said Indian (3-5, 2-1 CAL Small) head coach Thom Connors. "We put in a huge amount of effort (this week in practice), especially on offense. We knew North Reading was going to score points and we knew we had to match them."

What Connors didn't know was that the Hornets were going to have to match his squad stride-for-stride after junior Kevin Johnston returned the opening kickoff 82 yards for a touchdown just 10 seconds into action. Amesbury would never lose the lead, although North Reading battled to keep things tight.

The arm of 6-1 senior Jimmy Campbell (15 of 32, 261 yards, 1 TD) and the feet of bulldog back Dino Rizzo (66 yards, two TDs) kept the Hornets no more than a touchdown away into the third quarter. Darren Hartwell, a 6-1 wide receiver, was an effective target with six catches for 161 yards with a highlight-reel 74-yard catch-and-run in the second quarter.

But misses little and big took their toll. Amesbury kicker Jameson Wheeler made all five of his point-after kicks while North Reading missed on its first two attempts. The Indians were 2 of 3 on fourth down, both on a key fourth-quarter drive for an insurance score, while the Hornets were shut out on five attempts.

More importantly, North Reading missed connections on a fake punt from its own 35 in the second quarter, losing 11 yards and possession of the ball while giving up a Wilder 2-yard TD run six plays later. Then, after Rizzo's second TD with 9:13 left in the game drew the Hornets within 28-20, an onside kick try was recovered easily by Amesbury's Mike Salisbury at his own 48 and turned into points 12 plays and six grueling minutes later.

"On the fake punt, the (receiver) is wide open," said Hornets coach Jeff Wall. "(Amesbury) brought everyone except one and (the punter) fumbled the ball. It's one of those plays where you look like an idiot now but if it works, you're a hero. We had it open, they gave us everything we needed but didn't get the ball off.

"On the onside kick, Ryan (Visconti) does a pretty good job with that, and I figured a short field or long field (for Amesbury was worth a risk) because we're not stopping them and it doesn't matter how far they have to go. We practiced (defending their four main offensive plays) all week and they still pulled it off. They just outplayed us."

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