YARMOUTH — The Leavitt Hornets’ red zone defense was a brick wall to Yarmouth, thwarting four Yarmouth drives inside its own 20 yard line.
That stiff defense, coupled with big plays courtesy of an incredible performance from the backfield, led the Hornets to a convincing 44-0 road win on Friday.
“Really, it’s the O-line,” Leavitt coach Michael Hathaway said. “We have some skill guys that can get out in the open, whether it’s run or pass … but it really goes down to that offensive line.”
Running back Bryce Hudson also had nothing but praise for the big men up front.
“The line did great,” Hudson said. “They did exactly what they were supposed to do. They’re just a great line to run behind and it’s unbelievable running behind them.”
Despite the score, it took the Hornets until the second quarter to get on the board. Prior to that, Yarmouth opened the game with a six-minute, 47-yard drive that was stifled in the red zone.
Yarmouth forced a punt, but after a first down was forced to punt. The Clippers’ punt was blocked and recovered by Leavitt on Yarmouth’s 8-yard line. Quarterback Tim Albert ran it in two plays later and the Hornets were on the board.
On the next drive, Yarmouth quarterback Noah Eckersley-Ray injured his non-throwing shoulder, forcing freshman Jack McGrath to step into the starting role.
After back-to-back punts, Leavitt scored again, this time on a three-yard run from Hudson, making it 12-0.
McGrath led the Clippers down into the red zone again with big passing plays to tight end Jack True, who was playing in his first game back after a collarbone injury, but an interception ended the drive and the half.
While Leavitt had the lead, Hathaway wasn’t satisfied.
“We felt like we had control of the game but the scoreboard wasn’t exactly the way we wanted it,” Hathaway said. “I thought offensively we came out in the second half with some stuff that we liked.”
On the first play from scrimmage in the second half, Hudson received the handoff up the middle, cut left, and was gone for a 48-yard touchdown. The quick score awoke the sleeping giant that was the Hornets backfield.
“To run the ball down the field on that first series was big, I think,” Hathaway said.
Eckersley-Ray returned to the field to start the second half for Yarmouth, which is nothing short of the norm, according to coach Jason Veilleux.
“He’s an iron man and decided to come back in,” Veilleux said. “He’s a true warrior.”
Eckersley-Ray, with help from True, marched the Clippers down the field, all the way down to the opponent’s one-yard line. A handoff to running back Liam Harke up the middle came up 6-inches short, and after a 61-yard drive, Leavitt came up big again when it counted.
“I wish we had stopped them before they got to the red zone,” Hathaway said. “They ran a lot of plays. But, we did a good job of getting up on their receivers and caging their quarterback.”
The field flipped, and it was time for the Hornets’ offense to go to work again.
Albert and Hudson slashed their way through the Clippers’ defense 99 yards and capped off their improbable drive with a 21-yard touchdown run from Albert, making it 27-0. Leavitt’s offense finished the game with 295 yards rushing on just 22 attempts.
Yarmouth once again had a strong drive that ended with an incomplete pass on the opponent’s six-yard line, but Veilleux was pleased with his team’s performance.
“That was the best game we have played all season,” Veilleux said. “We don’t have a lot of our starters. A lot of our guys are injured so we were able to put JV kids in there and move the ball. I am very proud of our guys for that.”