AMESBURY — Amesbury had not attempted a field goal all season, but on Thursday morning, junior kicker Mac Short delivered two clutch field goals in the second half to propel the Indians past Newburyport, 13-10.
The victory clinched the CAL/NEC (Division 3) title for the Indians (9-2, 5-0), who face Lynnfield (8-2) in the playoffs Tuesday night. It’s Amesbury’s first trip to the MIAA postseason since 2008.
The winning 32-yard field goal came with 5:55 remaining, after the Clippers just tied the score at 10 with a 29-yard field goal from senior Connor Wile.
“I honestly didn’t think it was going to come down to me because I had 100 percent confidence in my team,” said Short. “Our offense [averaging 28.8 PPG] has been sufficient all year, it’s been the best in the league.”
It was the second straight week Short won a game for the Indians. Last Saturday against Pentucket, with the score tied at 20 and two seconds remaining, Short kicked the winning PAT.
“I want the pressure,” he said. “I like it when everyone counts on me to do my job. When I do my job, it makes me feel like an important asset to this team.”
Amesbury head coach Thom Connors said even though his team hadn’t kicked a field goal, he had plenty of confidence in Short, calling him one of the best kickers he’s ever coached.
“Those were the only field goals we’ve kicked all year,” said Connors. “All the kicks have been PATs. But he’s been kicking PATs over the fence, so we knew he had enough leg. We’ve talked about someday, he was going to win us a game and he did it two weeks in a row.”
Amesbury also relied heavily on its defense, which made two key stops following the field goal to close out the game.
“[Newburyport’s] tough,” said Connors. “I’m real proud of our defense. I thought our defense really stepped up and made the difference today, especially in the fourth quarter, we got two stops and that was huge. Defense wins and that’s what we did today.”
Short’s first field goal was a 25-yarder that came 3:59 into the second half and put Amesbury up, 10-7. It was set up by a 31-yard completion from senior quarterback Matt Talbot (8 of 17, 118 yards) to senior running back Tommy Connors.
The score was tied at 7 heading into the half. On the game’s first drive, senior tight end Samuel Francis got the Clippers on the board with a 16-yard dash up the right sideline.
The Indians tied the score just under three minutes into the second quarter, when senior running back Perry Mroz rumbled up the middle for an 11-yard score.
Newburyport leads the all-time series, 42-37-6.