By Bob Albright
---- — AMESBURY — Veteran Amesbury coach Thom Connors called Saturday’s 37-24 win over Hamilton–Wenham perhaps his club’s best victory of the last two years.
It’s safe to say he will get no argument on that point from the Indians’ offensive of line or, for that matter, the plethora of Amesbury backs who ran for a country mile behind them.
Amesbury (2-2) racked up a whopping 302 yards on 51 carries and when you add that gaudy total to a proficient passing attack and an opportunistic, bend-but-don’t-break defense, the Indians were all smiles after this impressive matinee performance at Landry Stadium.
“This was a game that we needed to play and our best game by far,” said Connors who saw his team rally from a pair of touchdown deficits in the first half to outscore the high octane visitors, 23-8, the rest of the way behind its proficient front seven which is anchored by senior tackle and captain Curran O’Connor.
Amesbury QB Matt Talbot (15 rushes, 113 yards, TD) and junior back Ben Cullen (14 rushes, 90 yards, TD) were the big beneficiaries of the seven-valve blocking machine up front, but so too was the Amesbury defense as the Indians controlled possession.
H-W’s dynamic QB Trevor Lyons still managed to light the Indians up to the tune of 309 yards in the air and another 53 on the ground. Two interceptions, especially Perry Mroz’ pick in the end zone to seal it with 1:34 to play, proved costly for the two-time reigning CAL/NEC Tier 4 champs.
Lyons (18-for-31, 309 yards, 2 TDs, 2 INTs) and the Generals wasted little time getting on the board first as the all-league QB connected on four of his first five passes, including a 23-yard scoring strike to lanky 6-foot-3 wideout Jimmy Campbell, who had a field day in the first half against a smaller Amesbury secondary.
After fumbling away their first possession, Amesbury would get the equalizer on Curran’s two-yard plunge and an ensuing strike to captain Shawn Bannon in traffic tied the game up 8-8. H-W would go again on top, 16-8, on Lyons’s second TD strike to Christian Ecker, but that’s when things took a scary turn.
On the next series, H-W defensive back Matt Curran collapsed on the General sidelines after making a hit. After nearly a half hour delay, the junior was taken away by ambulance. The good news was that the move proved to be only a precaution and Curran returned to the H-W sidelines in the third quarter.
Shortly after play resumed, Talbot (6-for-10, 110 yards, 2 TD) rolled to his right and connected with Pat Scanlon who made a pretty fingertip catch for the 23-yard score. Talbot hit Tommy Connors (3 catches, 38 yards) for the game-tying conversion and Amesbury finished the half by marching 77 yards with Talbot finding Bannon from 34-yards out to give the hosts a lead they never gave up.
“To put 37 points up on Hamilton-Wenham is something,” said Connors. “They’re real stingy on defense and they got better this week too. They really started to open it up which they hadn’t done so far.”
Amesbury really got the ground game going in the second marching 55 yards on 11 plays almost exclusively on the ground save for a pretty 28-yard hookup between Talbot and a leaping Tommy Connors. Talbot’s keep from four yards out and the QB’s ensuing rush made it 30-16.
A 68-yard hookup from Lyons to H-W freshman Cam Macri (keep your eyes on this kid) on a center screen would lead to H-W’s final score and would make it interesting with 6:35 still to play. The Indians had other plans, however, and found the finishing touch in the form of Perry Mroz’s 15-yard jaunt around left end for the game’s final score.
“Lyons is a very talented player and we had to get some pressure on him and the secondary played tight on their receivers and, ultimately, we did the job on them,” said O’Connor of the complete team win.