Newburyport ground attack too much for Amesbury, 44-26

AMESBURY – Complete with throwback uniforms and packed stands on both sides of historic Landry Stadium, the 100th Thanksgiving feast between archrivals Amesbury and Newburyport lived up to the billing.

Unfortunately for the hosts, Newburyport’s vaunted running game also lived up to the hype as the Clippers posted six rushing touchdowns, four by senior Kane Brennan, to capture the highly anticipated showdown, 44-26.

“You could just feel it in the air during the warmups,” said Newburyport coach Brian Smolski, whose family tree dates back to his grandfather have played in this storied rivalry, which dates back to 1891. “There’s no rivalry like Amesbury and Newburyport.”

Up by just 10 with three minutes to go and facing a critical third down on his own 46, Brennan followed a crushing lead block from Angus Webster and sprinted down the Amesbury sidelines for the clincher for the Clippers (9-2), who now lead the all-time series 53-41-6.

“The last two years we lost to Amesbury and most of the seniors were playing in those games so it feels awesome to get a win,” said Brennan.

Along with the impressive ground attack, Newburyport’s massive defensive line and talented linebacking crew was stout all game long, turning back the Redhawks on all three of their conversion rushes. Senior defensive end Peter Osazuwa was especially disruptive up front. Brothers Max (2 TDs) and Mike Sanchez ran hard in the loss.

Down 36-18 with 6:28 to go, it looked like Amesbury (9-2) might empty the bench in preparation for next week’s Div. 7 Super Bowl, but the Redhawks had other ideas. Justin Dube found Robby Dalton on a 31-yard scoring strike and the duo reprised the effort on the conversion.

The Clippers, who fell to Foxboro in the Div. 5 playoffs, scored on their first two possessions on a pair of one-yard plunges from Sean Miles and Brennan and the visitors converted each time on a pair of halfback option passes.

Trailing 16-0 in the second, Amesbury marched 52 yards on 12 plays, culminating in Max Sanchez’s first score. The Clippers wasted little time answering back, however, as Brennan darted nine yards around end to make it 22-6. Undaunted, the hosts would make it a 22-12 game as QB Justin Dube scored on Amesbury’s version of the brotherly shove to make it 22-12 at the half.

Senior captain Jack Sullivan made it 30-12 for Newburyport late in the third in this historic tilt.

“Throwback jerseys, all the people in the stands, that’s all we heard all week long,” said Sullivan, who said a pep talk by a 99-year-old alumnus was especially meaningful. “That really hit home for us.”

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