(Amesbury MA) Amesbury got an early break.
A likely punt turned into a third-down retry.
Their opening drive, as a result, was kept alive, and a touchdown followed.
After that the Indians (3-1) were overpowering on both sides of the ball, registering a 20-0 shutout against North Reading on Saturday afternoon.
Amesbury struggled on their first possession. A Zach Sampson sack and a Kyle Donovan fumble (recovered by Amesbury) had the Indians in trouble. Their third-down play went nowhere BUT the whistle of a sidelines official had gone off enabling the home team to try that third down play again. A first down resulted and Amesbury was literally off and running.
“If that inadvertent whistle doesn’t happen on their first drive, it’s fourth-and-four and they’d have to punt,” said North Reading coach Eddie Blum afterwards.
But the replay was rightly allowed, and Amesbury took full advantage cashing from the NR 37 with three minutes left in the first quarter.
Senior Kyle Donovan scored twice in the first half.
The first one went thirty-seven yards up the middle. “I just shot the gap and was free,” said Kyle. “One kid was there and I high-stepped by him.”
That TD was the longest AHS run of the day but certainly not their last run.
“We try to attack multiple gaps on either side of the football from a balanced look,” explained AHS coach Colin McQueen post-game.
“Their interior linemen took our traps away,” said Coach McQueen. “When one thing is taken away, generally something else is there. Today we moved the ball pretty well off tackle.”
The ball-handling of quarterback Drew MacDonald was impressive for Amesbury. I will admit to following the wrong ball carrier on a number of occasions. I am quite certain that I wasn’t the only one.
“Each guy on defense has read keys and responsibilities,” said Coach Blum. “Amesbury is a senior-laden team that has been running that offense for a while. Give credit to their offensive line and their blockers.”
The Amesbury defense, led by Nick Marden, made is tough for the Hornets (2-2) to put any drives together.
Drew MacDonald tacked a two-point conversion onto Kyle Donovan’s first touchdown and Amesbury led, 8-0, after a quarter.
Nick Marden ended NR’s first possession with a fourth-down fumble recovery.
Nick came off the edge to give the Hornets trouble all afternoon.
“Nick is a physical specimen,” said Coach McQueen. “Having him on the edge can be dangerous for the other team.”
Coach McQueen referenced former coach Geno Burnham who died this week. “I coached with Geno and in our staff meetings he always wanted to ‘fire off the edge.’ We decided today that we were going to send a couple ‘off the edge’ today in Geno’s honor.”
Nick turned the ‘off the edge’ approach into run stops and sacks for the Indians this afternoon.
After Nick’s fumble recovery the Indians started at their own 46. The rest of the drive was all runs with four first downs along the way.
Kyle Donovan hit the middle from four yards out and backed into the end zone for a second score. The rush for two failed but AHS now led, 14-0.
The Hornets followed with a 40-yard kickoff (Robbie Tammaro) return to set them up at the Amesbury 35. NR nearly got a score as Will Taylor ran a down-and-out into some serious open space, but Brian Heffernan’s pass sailed over his head.
Twice Amesbury ran their way deep into North Reading territory in the second half with nothing to show for it. In both tries, fourth-down passes fell incomplete.
The Hornets had a 4th down converted but a fumble (recovered by Chip Kelley) gave the ball back to Amesbury with 4:43 left in the game.
Amesbury completed a pass to Tyler Mazzaglia for a first down and two more chain movers set the home team up on the NR four.
QB Drew MacDonald faked a handoff up the middle and rolled left to score with a minute left in the game.
“We had two TDs at the end of sustained drives,” said Coach McQueen. “Our goal is to wear people down. We want pads on pads and for our backs to run hard.”
Coach Blum: “Our defense battled all day. You just have to turn the page after you learn what you can learn. We’re on to Triton.”
Coach McQueen: “Kyle is a tough runner. Any time we put the ball in his hands he has a chance to go. It comes down to him getting the second and third level and making some guy miss.”
Kyle Donovan: “It was a great all-around team effort. Our offense was at its finest and our defense held up.”
The weather was sunny and remarkable for early April. Temps were in the upper 40s and I was over-dressed for sure.
The Amesbury ground game was so good that their passing game stood out as needing to improve considerably. Of course, if the Indians can get early leads, they won’t be forced into any passing catch-up attempts.
The Landry Stadium scoreboard has a habit of not consistently working. More of that today.
Is there a turf football field in Amesbury’s future?
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