By Dan Harrison CORRESPONDENT
The Salem News
---- — IPSWICH — The Ipswich defense was missing two starting cornerbacks and two starting inside linebackers yesterday when the Tigers hosted Newburyport.
Even though the result was a 13-7 loss at the hands of the Clippers, the Ipswich defense looked to be at full strength, even if it wasn’t.
After giving up two first-half touchdown runs, the Tigers (1-5) really clamped down defensively and only allowed 40 yards of Newburyport (3-3) offense in the second half.
“I was just absolutely impressed with the people who stepped up and the confidence the starters around them had,” Ipswich head coach Ted Flaherty said after the game. “We never, ever felt as if the momentum was coming against us. We felt confident the whole game, and I was very happy with that.”
Tyler Cusack broke a 29-yard touchdown run on a toss to the left to cap off Newburyport’s first drive of the game. Then late in the second quarter, the Clippers made it 13-0 when senior captain and fullback Samuel Francis took a handoff up the middle and pushed his way into the end zone from 13 yards out.
Newburyport meanwhile held Ipswich to just 24 rushing yards the entire game.
“I think we’re good against the run,” Clippers head coach Ed Gaudiano explained. “We have been that way all season. Our guys work hard getting to the ball. I don’t think we do anything fancy. It’s just a good attitude we have defensively.”
Ipswich managed only 117 yards of total offense, and had it not been for a 78-yard kickoff return by John Elnagger just before the end of the first half, the Tigers would’ve posted a goose egg. Elnagger responded to Francis’ touchdown to give Ipswich plenty of life before the second half, and while it didn’t pay offensive dividends, the Tigers seemed to increase their defensive intensity over the final two quarters.
Elnagger and senior Chris McCormack (seven catches, 65 yards) had a pair of sacks each and helped the Tigers come up big on a couple of fourth downs. Trailing 7-0 in the second quarter, Elnagger sacked the Clippers QB Drew Bourdeau on a fourth-and-short on the Ipswich six-yard line.