Lynnfield football takes a big step forward

Spencer Riley of Lynnfield sprints past Amesbury defenders during Saturday's game.

LYNNFIELD — The Lynnfield football team took a huge step toward qualifying for the playoffs Saturday night, defeating visiting Amesbury 34-24 at Pioneer Stadium.

With the win, the Pioneers, who won only three games last year, improved to 4-1 (1-0 CAL) and jumped into third place in the Division 5 North power rankings behind undefeated Pentucket and Bedford, both 5-0.

While Amesbury, a run-heavy offense, owned a huge edge in possession and offensive plays from scrimmage (77-58), it was Lynnfield which made the most of its opportunities, scoring on five of its seven possessions.

The defense also did its job.

“We told them it was going to be a physical game and the message was, defensively, you have to meet them face to face in the trenches and that’s what we saw, especially in the first half,” said Lynnfield coach Pat Lamusta. “We needed this one to get our confidence back. The Pentucket loss was very hard, so we needed this to move on”

For the second time in two years, quarterback Clay Marengi and wide receiver Jack Ford tied program records, Marengi for touchdown passes (4) and Ford for touchdown receptions (3). Marengi (8-of-10, 158 yards) completed his first five passes of the game, two for touchdowns. He also picked up 27 rushing yards on four carries, while Ford caught four Marengi passes for 112 yards.

Spencer Riley had a career day, running for 116 yards on 12 carries with one touchdown. He also tacked on two extra points filling in for Blake Peters, who was injured following the Pioneers’ first touchdown in the first quarter.

Amesbury, needed less than four minutes to take an 8-0 lead on a 26-yard touchdown run from Kyle Donovan (15 carries, 103 yards).

After that, it was all Pioneers, who scored  on their next three possessions to lead 22-8 at halftime.

Starting from its own 34, Lynnfield drove 66 yards in five plays, the final a 40-yard touchdown pass from Marengi to Ford. Marengi hit John Lee (3 catches, 46 yards) for the two-point conversion to tie the game at 8-8.

Lynnfield forced a three-and-out on the Indians’ next possession and took over on the Amesbury 27 after a bad snap on the punt attempt. Marengi needed one play to find Lee at the five, who waltzed into the end zone to make it 15-8 (Riley PAT).

After the defense forced another three-and-out, the Pioneers marched 86 yards into the end zone in nine plays. Riley capped the drive with a four-yard touchdown run, then split the uprights with the point after to make it 22-8. Pioneers with 10:48 to go in the half.

Once again, the Pioneers’s defense came up huge to keep the Indians out of the end zone. Starting at their 30, the Inidans methodically drove to the Pioneers’ 17 where they faced fourth-and-10. Amesbury quarterback Troy Hamel completed a pass to MIles Franey, but he was stopped one yard shot of a first down at the nine with 3:27 left in the half.

“It was a quieter night for the defensive backs, but they did a good job as anytime they went to pass the ball we had it covered pretty well,” Lamusta said. “Colby,Clattenburg John Lee, Aidan McCormack and Jack Ford were there when we needed to make sure their pass plays were covered, so our pass coverage was really good.”

Amesbury’s defense got its first stop on Lynnfield’s next drive, forcing Anthony Floramo’s only punt of the game with 1:59 to go. Starting at its 32, Amesbury drove to the Pioneers’ 36 where the drive stalled with an incomplete pass into the end zone as time expired.

The second half began with a bang for the Pioneers. Starting at its 30, Marengi found Ford from 57 yards out on a third-and-13 to make it 28-8.

That’s when the game got interesting.

Amesbury answered with a three-yard scamper by Tucker Molin and two-point conversion from Kyle Donovan to close to 28-16 with 3:04 left in the third.

Lynnfield drove 64 yards in five plays, capping the drive with a six-yard touchdown pass to Ford to make it 34-16.

Amesbury stuck to its ground-and-pound game and cut the lead to 34-24 with 5:47 left. The Indians’ last chance came on a Lynnfield fumble at the Pioneers 49 with 3:31 to go, but turned it over on downs.

Lamusta highlighted the play of the defensive line and linebacker DJ Capachietti.

“DJ had another strong game and Owen Blacker and Liam Farrell did a great job on the D-line,” Lamusta said. “Mike Julian also played great when he had to come in for Owen when he got hurt and Nik Marotta also played a little D-line.”

The Pioneers’ next game is at Ipswich (2-3) Friday afternoon at 3:30.

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