Newburyport Clippers Football '07

Fri, Sep 07, 2007 07:00 PM @ Newburyport
Team Q1 Q2 Q3 Q4 Final
Saugus 7 6 0 0 13
Newburyport 0 7 7 7 21
Members of the Newburyport High cheerleading squad get the crowd ready for the second half of Friday night's home opener at World War Memorial Stadium against the Saugus Sachems. The Clippers won, 21-13. » Ben Laing, Staff PhotographerMore photos

Newburyport quarterback Joe Clancy paces victory over Saugus in football

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Friday, September, 07 By Dan Guttenplan
Sports editor

NEWBURYPORT | The Newburyport football team erased any memories of last Thanksgiving's 20-0 loss to rival Amesbury last evening.

The Clippers opened the season with a 21-13 come-from-behind victory over Saugus at World War Memorial Stadium.

Perhaps the Clipper with the most painful memories of the Thanksgiving Day drubbing had the biggest hand in last night's victory. Quarterback Joe Clancy completed 6 of 11 passes for 131 yards and three touchdowns in front of a crowd that nearly filled the entire home side of the stadium.

Last Thanksgiving, the then-sophomore Clancy completed 1 of 8 passes for 9 yards and four interceptions. But it was a different quarterback that took the field last night.

"Joe gave us some huge plays," Newburyport coach Ed Gaudiano said. "But it wasn't just the long passes. He executed some of the short passes that build confidence, and that got the whole team going."

Newburyport overcame a 13-0 first-half deficit that may have actually been worse than the score showed. Saugus' first three drives of the game resulted in a 64-yard scoring drive that resulted in a touchdown, an 84-yard scoring drive that stalled at the Newburyport 8-yard-line, and a 28-yard scoring drive that resulted in a touchdown and a missed extra point.

"I told the guys we can't quit just because we're down 13 points," Gaudiano said. "We needed to settle down and recognize that we were capable of playing with these guys. (Offensive coordinator) Ryan McCarthy called some great plays from the (press) box."

The bulk of the plays went to Clancy and sophomore running back Kyle LeBlanc, who rushed for 45 yards on 10 carries. Newburyport calmed its fan base just before half time by recording its first points | an 11-yard touchdown pass from Clancy to Andrew Sokol with 28.6 seconds remaining.

"Those points were huge," Gaudiano said. "Then we had a chance to come out in the second half, get the ball first and drive the field to take the lead."

Newburyport struck quick on its first drive of the second half with a 49-yard bomb from Clancy to Ashlyn Calcagni. The senior was streaking down the visitor's sideline when Clancy threw a tight spiral that traveled no less than 35 yards in the air.

Newburyport's defense was up to the task in the second half, holding the Sachems scoreless and keeping constant pressure on quarterback Brett Reid. The 5-6, 140 pound quarterback torched the Clippers in the first half to the tune of 77 yards rushing on six carries.

It was a different story after the break as Reid netted just eight yards on two carries.

Newburyport appeared to give itself a little breathing room when Clancy stretched the lead to 21-13 thanks to a 38-yard strike to Derek Freeman with 9:24 remaining in the fourth quarter.

Still, Saugus made one last charge, blocking a Newburyport punt with 3:13 remaining. Although LeBlanc recovered on Newburyport's own 36, the turnover on downs gave Saugus the ball.

The Sachems drove down to the 16-yard-line in less than 30 seconds, before Newburyport's defense rose to the challenge. On three successive plays Newburyport recorded a sack for a 9-yard loss, a sack for a 10-yard loss and an interception. Chris Barry recorded the first sack, Kevin Ryan the second and Justin Burl had the interception.

"It's a nice win for the program," Gaudiano said. "Now we're looking forward to seeing Wilmington next week."

Newburyport will host Wilmington on Friday (7 p.m., World War Memorial Stadium). Wilmington is the defending Cape Ann League Large champion. Newburyport fell to the champs 27-0 last year.

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