Newburyport Clippers Sail to Victory over the Buccaneers, 42-27

Four hundred nineteen yards of offense and 21 first downs sound like an easy football win, right?

Not always.

Those numbers weren’t enough for Bedford High School Friday under the Sabourin Field lights. Newburyport High defeated the Bucs, 42-27, evening both teams’ records at 1-1.

Head Coach Tom Tone said the game was evenly played, and the Bucs were right in it for more than 90 percent of the match. Ultimately, he said, “We weren’t good enough to win a game like that yet. Hopefully, it will help us.”

There were a couple of key plays with negative results. And there was Clipper quarterback Peter Sullivan, whose shifty scrambling and pinpoint passing single-handedly dismantled the Bedford defense for much of the game.

The key sequence may very well have unfolded nine minutes into the game. After the two teams traded touchdowns – a 44-yard run by Bedford quarterback Jake Morrison on the second Bedford snap and a 25-yard rushing response by Sullivan—the Bucs were on the march.

Comfortable in Coach Tom Tone’s tempo offense. Bedford moved from its 20-yard line to the Newburyport six in a little more than a minute, featuring Morrison completions to Mike DeLia (22) and Charlie Naylor (25).

On first and goal, Morrison took the long snap and looked like he was headed for a score. But he was hit inside the five and lost the ball. The Clippers recovered.

Newburyport, which punted on its first two possessions, ran two plays for zero yards, and on third down handed off to power back Jack Hadden on a sweep to the left side. Hadden, found a seam and some blockers and headed up the left side – 95 yards to the endzone. Sullivan’s kick made it 14-7.

The potential 14-point swing was painful, Tone said, but “we knew it was going to be a four-quarter day.”

From that point, Bedford played catch-up – but only caught up once. Eric Miles capped a 10-play, 68-yard drive with a five-yard TD. Nick Tatarczuk added the second of three extra points.

But Sullivan answered with a blizzard of completions. He was five-for-five on the series, ending with a 32-yard bomb to Lucas Stallard racing into the right corner of the endzone with 2:28 left in the half.

The Bucs drove down to the 15 but ran out of time. And they were shocked to discover that when the third quarter began, they were kicking off — again.

Before the game, Newburyport won the coin toss and deferred its choice to start the second half. But somehow both teams sent their kicking units onto the field – and Bedford ended up beginning the first half on defense.

Tone said he had informed the officials before the coin toss that Bedford would take the ball if it had the opportunity. So “in my mind, I knew we were getting the ball in the second half. It was kind of a big letdown.”

Still, they battled back. The Clippers, leading by seven, began the quarter at their 19. Three plays later it was third-and-14 from the 29, and Sullivan, running out of a dropback, juked his way to a 37-yard scramble. The next play was a dart to Stallard at the one, and Hadden scored on the next snap.

Bedford answered in six plays, culminating with a 28-yard touchdown pass from Morrison to Naylor.

But the Clippers reopened the two-TD advantage, Newburyport ran the ball six times before Sullivan found Jeffrey Thurston completely open on the right side for an easy TD near the end of the third quarter. “We had nobody within 10 yards on two of their touchdowns,” Tone commented. “There were some plays we needed to make that we didn’t.”

The Bucs scored once again early in the fourth when Miles brought it in from the five. The two-point inversion attempt failed.

Still, Bedford trailed by one possession, ad the defense forced a three-and-out. Bedford took over at the Buc 27 with plenty of time – more than eight minutes. Rushes by Miles and Morrison brought it out to the 40 but the drive died on a short run and two incomplete passes. Bedford was punting for the first time

Once again the defense stepped up, and the Clippers faced third-and-11 from the Bedford 41. “Right up to that point I thought we were right in it,” Tone said. But Sullivan threw a dagger down the right side that Stallard caught in stride at the goal line, ahead of the coverage. There were four-and-a-half minutes left to play.

Sullivan finished with 11 completions, including passes of 32, 33, 35, and 41 yards, for 198 total and three TDs. He added 71 yards rushing and a touchdown. Newburyport’s offense totaled 426 yards, seven more than Bedford’s.

Morrison completed 19 or 26 passes for 234 and a TD. Naylor had six catches for 102; also on the receiving end were Delia (four), Tatarczuk (four) Aiden Pompi (three), and Richie Fedele (two). Miles rushed for 111, his second game over 100 on the ground. But two Bedford drives ended in the red zone without a score.

Bedford plays four of its next five games on the road, beginning next Friday in Brockton vs. Oliver Ames. As for Newburyport, Tone said, “They’re in our division — maybe we’ll see them again.”

Mike Rosenberg can be reached at [email protected], or 781-983-1763

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