By Matt Jenkins
---- — IPSWICH — Ted Flaherty and the Ipswich High football team knew what they were up against with Cody Rothwell and Pentucket invading Jack Welch Stadium this weekend.
For 21 minutes the Tigers bottled up Pentucket, but it only took one play from Rothwell to change the game.
Rothwell, a senior running back, broke a 70-yard touchdown run with less than a minute to play in the first half to finally break the Ipswich defense, and Pentucket added another score in the second half to complete an exhausting 14-0 win over the Tigers.
“I’ve watched him on tape and scouted them a couple times and he’s extremely difficult to tackle. He’s very competitive and instinctual,” Ipswich (1-3) coach Ted Flaherty said. “He’s low to the ground and he’s got those bow legs, and you can’t get your arms around him. He’s a very tough runner, one of the better players in the league.”
Rothwell finished with 132 yards rushing on 16 carries and he scored both of Pentucket’s touchdowns, adding a 2-yard TD run on the first play of the fourth quarter. Defensively, he was also a menace for the Tigers, picking off a pair of passes to prevent a comeback.
“He had an awesome game,” Pentucket (3-1) coach Steve Hayden said. “Two touchdowns, two interceptions and a couple knockdowns, it was great play by him.”
Hayden also understood the importance of scoring just before the half to break a scoreless tie.
Ipswich was playing tough and gaining momentum.
“It was big. It was a dog fight as it was,” Hayden said. “I told the kids that they were good. We’re tiny, smaller than them and they were a physical team.”
As well as Ipswich played defensively, the Tigers never really mounted enough offense to threaten.
Ipswich never got into the red zone, and their deepest penetration was to the Pentucket 31-yard line, but that drive stalled with a pair of incompletions and a run that only got the Tigers back to the line of scrimmage.
Kyle Barber led Ipswich’s offense with 52 yards on the ground. The Tigers managed only 86 yards of offense the entire game.
Flaherty still walked away feeling pretty good about his team.
“I think we’re good. I think we’ve played tough defense all year, we’ve just kind of given up big plays,” Flaherty said. “In the second half we had horrible field position and we had a terrible sequence to open the second half (a 1-yard run and two incompletions). We couldn’t get any rhythm offensively so it was obvious when we were going to throw and we were backed up in the running game. Playing a team as tough as them, it was a hard situation to overcome but I’m very proud of how hard we played.”