(Andover) Newburyport (9-3) squandered a chance to put points on the board early and the rest of the game couldn’t even get into Hamilton-Wenham territory at Andover High School on Tuesday night.
Meanwhile, the Generals (11-0) kept things very interesting by failing to capitalize on several chances of their own before getting the game-winner with only 32 seconds left.
HW’s 7-0 win, in the Division 3A semifinals, puts them into the Super Bowl against Bourne (12-0) at noon on Saturday at Manning Field in Lynn.
Both teams in the Super Bowl game are undefeated.
This game had enough suspense for even the strongest of hearts. Games that go scoreless for 39 ½ minutes out of 40 minutes will do that to you!
The five-yard, game winner, by quarterback Trevor Lyons, was at the conclusion of a ten-play, five-minute drive that started at the Newburyport 40. The HW advance toward the end zone and the winding down of the clock in a scoreless tie, created edge-of-the-seat drama.
Two memorable plays got HW into the Clipper end zone:
(1) On 3rd-and-15 from the N34, the Generals victimized Newburyport with a perfectly executed screen pass. QB Lyons sold the play and as the Clippers poured in on him he flipped a short pass to Elliott Burr in the middle. Elliott not only got the first down but reached the Clipper 5 with two minutes left.
(2) After trying to get Elliott Burr in on the left (twice), the Generals set up as if they would try it a third time. However, instead, Trevor Lyons rolled right, beat the corner (Evan Habib), and jumped into a defender (Jared Bradbury) at the goal line to score with 32 seconds left. Ironically, Trevor hit that same right corner of the end zone in HW’s 18-6 win at Newburyport on September 23rd.
Paul Kim added the extra point and that’s the summation of the scoring.
Watching Newburyport unable to do more on offense was startling. Clipper QB Connor Wile came in with nearly 2000 passing yards and 21 TD passes. In this game he was just 5-for-16 and 33 yards. The total Newburyport offense was a meager 76 yards and only 4 first downs.
Credit the HW defense. Their front four or three were able to put enough pressure on Connor to hurry him up. This allowed the Generals’ linebackers to drop into short coverage and the secondary to concentrate on the long ball.
The Clippers nearly connected deep, early in the 4th quarter, but Brett Fontaine couldn’t hold on to Connor’s pass.
The Newburyport faithful will recall a major squander by their Clippers in the first period. Jimmy Conway intercepted a Trevor Lyons pass and Newburyport was golden on the Generals twenty. Connor Wile converted a third down play with a scramble to the HW 9. Runs by Connor and Tyler Martin brought the Clippers to the HW2 for third down. Big defensive play alert – Luke Wendt deflected a pass attempt over the middle and Newburyport was forced to settle for a field goal attempt. When Brandon Trego’s kick went wide left the squander was complete.
Any points in that possession would have been huge as the game wound scoreless minute after minute until the very end.
While Newburyport was kept out of HW territory the rest of the way the Generals had no such problem. They just couldn’t finish…….until the very end.
The Generals reached the Clipper 20 twice, had a 68-yard TD run by Trevor Lyons called back on a penalty, and had a TD pass dropped (Matt Putur) in the Clipper end zone just before halftime. HW racked up 198 yards and 9 first downs.
Hamilton-Wenham also had two interceptions. The second one, in the final quarter, would have been one that the HW would have been lamenting forever if they had lost. The Generals reached the Clipper 20 with seven minutes left in a scoreless game. On 4th-and-14, they decided to have runner Elliott Burr throw a pass. Bad idea alert – Brett Fontaine took in the floater intended for Matt Putur and the Clippers were still alive.
But on this day, the HW’s inability to finish was offset by their terrific defense, and only one score was needed. Undefeated Bourne may require more HW points on the board in the Super Bowl game.
The sky was overcast with a little drizzle before the game. The temps were in the 50’s. Was it really November 29th?
Great turf field at Andover. Lighting was spectacular. The track, however, kept fans a bit distant from the action.
Good crowd on both sides. HW band impressed me.
This is the best season HW has had in its 52 football seasons. Wouldn’t a Super Bowl championship be the frosting on the cake!
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