“Honestly, in the first half we were flat,” explained Rudloff. “Emotionally the kids didn’t have much. We had individual players that made individual mistakes, which can always hurt you. I think a lot of that was we hadn’t gotten off the bus yet. And it’s not like we got off the bus in the second half, either, because I think the kids came out spirited — but we were still getting our butts kicked.”
Down by 14, the Magicians finally scored with 4:15 left in the third quarter. Senior captain Zac Cuzner picked off Drew Bourdeau’s pass and ran it back 50 yards for a touchdown. After Joe Newell’s extra point kick, the Magicians had cut their deficit in half — and kept rolling from there.
“Zac was huge for us,” said Rudloff. “He didn’t take any reps for us this week. He was at practice every day, but had ice on his knee all day long after he tweaked it last week. We didn’t have him come out for practice until later in the week. He was very rusty, but he did some great things as the game went on.
“He’s the kid everyone on this team looks to to make a big play. Zac’s been starting for the past three years, one of the only guys on the team that’s done that. The kids know he’s been in all of these different situations. Zac did everything we needed him to do ... everything we expected him to do.”
On the next set of plays Cuzner was again involved in huge stop, which forced Newburyport to punt. The Magicians then went 38 yards in six plays before Maag threw his first and only interception of the game. The Clippers took over on their own 30-yard line and nearly scored again, but this time Marblehead’s Matt Millert intercepted a Bourdeau pass in the end zone, resulting in a touchback.