(Newburyport) In non-league Cape Ann League action, North Andover did many things right and easily defeated Newburyport, 34-7, on a beautiful Friday night at World War Stadium.
This was D1 North Andover versus D3 Newburyport. This was also a rematch of teams that had been part of a 40-0 Knight blowout last year. And this was also another year for senior quarterback Brandon Walsh to show why he is one of the best in the state.
This didn’t figure to be a close game but on the scoreboard it still was at halftime (13-7) but in the second half the visiting Knights produced scores on their first three possessions while the Clippers came up empty on theirs.
Brandon Walsh was good as advertised. NA operated with no huddle and received the plays via hand signals. In Tom Brady fashion, Brandon made changes at the line of scrimmage on many plays.
One big improvising play in the second half stood out. Brandon saw the Clipper defense shift to his left and so he carried right, cut back into the middle, then down the left sideline for 72 yards to the Newburyport one yard line. Other teammates tried to rush in from there unsuccessfully before Brendon finished the job himself to put NA ahead, 26-7 in the third period.
The Knights (3-1) had plenty of weapons beside Brandon. He threw eighteen times and great protection kept him from being hurried on any of them. He completed twelve throws including touchdowns in each half.
Clipper QB Connor Wile saw plenty of pressure but still connected on 14 of 18 attempts including a 34-yard TD pass to Brett Fontaine with 2:57 left until halftime.
Connor rolled right on that play to buy time and lofted a pass, over the top of turned-around defender Tom Moody, that Brett had to leap to get.
Speaking of Brett, he was rocked after a couple of receptions. One picture shows him being hit by four NA players and his helmet pushed back. He came out of that play holding his left arm and I suspect that sight had the NHS basketball and baseball coaches holding their collective breaths.
Newburyport won the toss and deferred. They tried an onside kick that didn’t work and gave NA great early field position.
NHS head coach Ed Gaudiano took a severe chiding from the referee after complaining loud and early about, what he saw to be, NA holding.
Newburyport started the second half with the ball (their own 27) trailing just, 13-7. They could gain just four yards in three plays. The punt attempt turned disastrous as a low snap forced punter Trevor Pituck to kneel to get it and the play was ruled dead at the N17.
NA was quick to capitalize. After a six-yard run by John Iannone, Brandon started to scramble and then at the last second threw left to Dan Laorenza who finished off the final eleven yards to score. There was a delay as officials discussed whether Brandon was over the line of scrimmage when he threw to Dan. It was ruled he wasn’t. Glen Hartford’s extra point kick put the Knights in front, 20-7 with 8:10 left in the third quarter.
NA’s first touchdown was on a John Iannone seven-yard sweep around the right end.
The final Knight score was at the end of a long drive that started on the NA 23. Glen Hartford got the TD. He lined up in the backfield and went out into the flat after a fake handoff and was wide open on the right side for an easy connection with Brandon.
Brandon was also the punter and holder. I don’t recall seeing him much on defense. One NA partisan told me that Brandon is getting recruited by D1 schools as a safety. I read a recent article on Brandon that suggested that his best sport may be baseball where he is a catcher.
Jared Bradbury had the defensive hit of the night on a Knight receiver.
Newburyport (2-2) plays next Thursday night (7PM) at Marblehead.
North Andover (3-1) is at Medford next Friday night.
(I take my own pictures and create my own captions. I try to be as accurate as possible.)
The pictures will enlarge to normal size if you click on them.