IPSWICH— Penalties, injuries and red zone mistakes cost the Ipswich High football team its fourth loss of the season after falling to Amesbury, 35-14, Saturday afternoon at Jack Welch Stadium.
“We weren’t ready to play,” said Ipswich head coach Ted Flaherty.
“I have to give Amesbury a lot of credit; they took care of the ball and controlled the line of scrimmage — they whacked us. We’ve been playing really, really hard all year and tough, but I’m not sure what happened (Saturday). I don’t know why we were so flat. We just couldn’t execute.”
The Tigers (1-4) couldn’t get stops when it counted and had a hard time punching in their own scores. Amesbury, meanwhile, scored three of its five touchdowns off Ipswich turnovers (2 interceptions and a fumble recovery). Making matters worse, the Tigers lost two of their two-way starters, Nate Glaster and Matt Carey, to injuries during the contest.
Despite some missed opportunities, the teams were tied at 7-7 in the second quarter, but by halftime the Tigers found themselves down by two scores.
“We had a couple of penalties that hurt us in the red zone,” Flaherty said. “It’s the type of football that you just can’t play and expect to do well. We didn’t convert on third and fourth downs, penalties knocked us back, and our energy level was just down. We seemed to hang our heads — and I haven’t seen that at all this year.”
Kyle Barber started for Ipswich at quarterback before switching to his normal running back position in the second half. He went 3 for 7 passing for 37 yards with one interception while guiding the Tigers downfield on their first scoring drive. From two yards out, Barber ran in the Tigers’ first touchdown before kicking the extra point to tie the game (7-7).
“We’ve done this is the past, taking running backs and putting them in at quarterback,” Flaherty said. “We like to run the ball with the Wing-T and need to threaten both flanks. We thought with a running back threat, it would help our trap and sweep game.”
Junior running back Derek Chamberlain hit the end zone in the third quarter for the Tigers’ final score. Chamberlain racked up a team-high 68 yards rushing for Ipswich.
The one thing the Tigers couldn’t do was stop Amesbury’s offense. The Indians (3-2) scored on three of their first five possessions, as quarterback Matt Talbot (6 for 9, 89 yards passing) threw three touchdown passes in the first half, two to Shawn Bannon and another to Tim Scanlon.
The Indians tacked on two rushing touchdowns in the second half, both of which came from midfield worth a combined 102 yards. Ben Cullen (8 carries for 89 yards) scored from 50 yards out, while Bobby Campbell hit pay dirt on his only carry of the game, good from 52 yards away.
“Their coaches had them prepared, and we weren’t,” Flaherty said. “It’s kind of confusing to me, but that’s what football is — you have to make adjustments and try to find a better way to peak at the right time.”