IPSWICH — When it comes to comeback victories, it just doesn’t get any better than the Lynnfield football team’s 28-22 win over Ipswich Friday afternoon at blustery Jack Welch Stadium.
With 56 seconds to play, Ipswich quarterback Cam James scored and added the two-point conversion to give Ipswich its first lead of the game, 22-21.
Lynnfield quarterback Clay Marengi needed only 37 seconds to drive the Pioneers 68 yards into the end zone, the final play a bullet from 30 yards out to a wide-open Bakari Mitchell down the right sideline with 19 seconds left. After Spencer Riley’s fourth extra point, it was game over at 28-22.
“Bakari had a rough start and I told him to keep his head up and be patient. I told him something good is going to happen,” said Marengi. “We were going for it all the way. I pumped faked and Bakari was running out and got behind the defense. I’m so happy for him.”
“We got contributions from everyone in this game, particularly on that last drive,” said Lynnfield coach Pat Lamusta. “It’s going to take a second for me to process this one. I’ve never been a part of a comeback like this.”
Marengi had a career game. He completed 20 of 28 pass attempts for 289 yards. For the second straight week, he tied the school record for single-game touchdown passes (4). He now has thrown for 1,164 yards and 15 touchdowns with a completion rate of 68 percent in six games for the Pioneers, who improved to 5-1 (2-0 CAL) this season.
Jack Ford caught nine passes for 130 yards with two touchdowns. He sealed the Tigers’ fate with an interception on the last play of the game.
Nick Boustris shined defensively and also caught four passes for 55 yards, while Anthony Floramo and John Lee each had three receptions, with Floramo picking up 36 yards and one touchdown and Lee picking up 38 yards, 28 of them on two big catches on the Pioneers’ game-winning drive.
The Pioneers opened the scoring on their first drive. Facing fourth-and-goal at the Ipswich 12, Ford made an amazing catch in the end zone flat on his back after slipping to make it 7-0 after Riley’s extra point with four minutes left in the quarter.
An Ipswich fumble set up the Pioneers next touchdown, a five-yard play-action pass from Marengi to Ford. Riley added the extra point to make it 14-0 with 2:30 left in the half.
The Tigers made a game of it in the second half, scoring on their first two drives to make it 14-14.
Ipswich then gambled with an onside kick, recovered by Lynnfield’s John Berquist at the Pioneer 45.
On third-and-goal from the Tigers’ 16, Marengi found Floramo to make it 21-14 Pioneers with 5:38 left.
Lee played a big role in the Pioneers’ final drive. With 41 seconds left on third-and-1, he caught a five-yard pass for a first down at the Pioneers’ 46. He followed with a 24-yard catch in traffic to the Ipswich 30 to set up the game-winning play.
“That catch by John was the play of the game if you ask me,” said Marengi. “The safety had stepped up and there were three guys on him. I just don’t know how he managed to come down with the catch, but that’s John. He just does something amazing in every game.”
Lynnfield can clinch the Cape Ann League title with a win next Friday (7) against Hamilton-Wenham at Pioneer Stadium.