Big road wn for Yarmouth football; Clippers hold off Oak Hill, 20-15
WALES—A year ago in Week 2, the Yarmouth football team suffered its most painful loss to date, letting an early lead slip away en route to a 26-23 home loss to Oak Hill. The Clippers wouldn't lose again and went all the way to the regional final, but the sting of that setback last September stayed with the team until it gained a measure of revenge (barely) Saturday afternoon.
Yarmouth raced to a 13-0 lead at Oak Hill, but let the Raiders back into the contest with penalties and turnovers, before an enormous, clutch defensive play turned the tide for good. The Clippers then held on for dear life and improved to 2-0 on the young season with a 20-15 victory.
Yarmouth got a pair of touchdown runs from junior Anders Overhaug, another from freshman quarterback Brady Neujahr and made just enough clutch plays on the defensive side of the ball to win for the 10th time in its last 11 outings.
"We talked about last year all week," said Clippers coach Jim Hartman. "The kids understood. We're certainly learning. We have to find heart, which we found a little bit today."
Yarmouth won just one time in its first two varsity seasons before exploding to prominence a year ago, but after losing the likes of Brody Woodson and 2009 Fall Male Athlete of the Year Eric Estabrook to graduation, the Clippers weren't expected to be quite as strong.
Yarmouth pummeled visiting Old Orchard Beach, 60-7, in its opener, dominating in all facets of the game. Saturday, the Clippers got off to a great start, but had to scratch and claw to get out of town with a victory against an Oak Hill squad that was expected to be a top competitor and one that was stinging after falling in its opener, 28-0, at Lisbon.
The hosts got the ball first and gained a pair of first downs, the second on a gorgeous 28-yard diving catch by senior Craig Morrill, on a pass from senior quarterback Cameron Morin. However, on fourth-and-4 at the Yarmouth 24, Clippers defenders John Held (a junior) and Billy Clabby (a senior) threw Raiders senior running back Joshua Allen for a three yard loss, giving Yarmouth the ball at its 27.
The Clippers would move 73 yards in nine plays, eating up just under three minutes to go on top for good. A 15-yard scamper from senior Nick Proscia got the ball into Oak Hill territory. Three plays later, Neujahr and senior Shane Ryan hooked up on a 27-yard pass play. Three plays after that, Overhaug ran in from 10 yards out and junior Bryce Snyder's extra point made it 7-0.
Late in the first period, the Raiders turned the ball over on a fumbled exchange, recovered by Yarmouth junior Carter Dorsett. The Clippers then drove again. On fourth-and-10 at the Oak Hill 33, Neujahr made a highlight reel play, barely picking up the first down along the left sideline as he ran into the down marker.
"We try to set things up for (Brady)," Hartman said. "We try to take the pressure of him with our running game. He's probably the fastest kid on the field. When he got that first down, it was a heck of a run. He's one tough kid. He's a competitor. He'll be fine."
Yarmouth would move all the way to the Oak Hill 7, but on fourth-and-4, senior Nate Pingitore was held to three yards and the hosts regained possession.
A Proscia sack short-circuited the next Raiders drive and with 5:51 remaining in the first half, Yarmouth got the ball at its 31. It took just six plays for the visitors to hit paydirt as Overhaud gained 23 yards into Oak Hill territory and three players later, Overhaug did the rest, rambling 35 yards for a score, breaking through a big hole up the middle, before cutting to the left pylon while outrunning the defense.
"Anders had a year off from football," Hartman said. "He's finding his way back out there. Once he runs full speed on every play, they won't be able to stop him."
The extra point was no good, but after a three-and-out from their defense, the Clippers took a 13-0 lead to the half.
In the first 24 minutes, Yarmouth had a 186-73 advantage in yardage and appeared in good shape, but the Clippers are still an inexperienced program and that showed in the third quarter as Oak Hill got back into the contest.
Yarmouth got the ball to start the second half, but the third play resulted in a fumbled exchange and Raiders sophomore Michael Saunders recovered at the Clippers 41. The hosts would get as close as the 11 before senior Asa Arden threw Allen for a three yard loss on third-and-3. After a delay of game penalty pushed the ball back to the 19, Pingitore broke up a pass and Yarmouth got the ball back on downs.
On the next play, however, Neujahr was intercepted by freshman Parker Asselin at the Clippers 29 and this time, Oak Hill took advantage.
It took the Raiders nine plays to move 29 yards for the score. Tough running from Allen and junior Cody DePuy got the ball close and on fourth-and-goal from the 1, Morin kept it and broke the plane to give his team its first touchdown of the season. Allen added the extra point and just like that, it was a 13-7 ballgame.
Yarmouth almost gave the ball away again on the first play of its next series, but Overhaug was at the right place at the right time to pick up the bouncing pigskin and run for six yards. As the third period gave way to the fourth, the Clippers moved into Oak Hill territory, but an untimely false start penalty set up a fourth-and-6 from the 31 and Neujahr was stopped for no gain on the next play, giving the Raiders a chance to take the lead.
The hosts drove from their 31 to Yarmouth's side of the field, earning a first down at the 32. They would get no closer. Three straight runs gained nothing, setting up fourth-and-10. After each team took a timeout, the Clippers made the defensive play of the game.
With just over three minutes to go, Morin dropped back to pass, but he was sandwiched by Dorsett and Pingitore and lost the ball straight into the air. Senior Jack Watterson was waiting for it, snared it, tucked it in at his 40 and raced down the middle of the field. He was eventually caught from behind by Allen at the Oak Hill 3, but disaster had been averted.
"Nate and Carter made a great play, coming in from the outside and hit (the quarterback)," Watterson said. "I got there after and saw the ball pop up and just grabbed it. I'm not that fast. I thought I had a shot to score, but we still got it."
"Every good football game between two good teams comes down to one play and we made it today," Hartman added. "Carter made a great play. It was a great play by Watterson. This game is about memories. Jack will never forget that."
With 2:55 to go, Neujahr barreled in from the 3 and Snyder's extra point made it 20-7.
The Clippers were flagged for an unsportsmanlike conduct penalty on the touchdown and an ensuing unsportsmanlike conduct transgression on the kickoff gave Oak Hill the ball at the Yarmouth 35 with a little life remaining. Four plays later, the Raiders cut into the deficit when Morin found senior Cody Provost for a 12-yard TD pass and DuPuy's two-point conversion run made it 20-15 with 1:57 still remaining.
Yarmouth had to sweat out an Oak Hill on-sides kick, but the ball didn't even travel half of the required 10 yards and the Clippers took over at the Raiders 44. Proscia ran for 16 on the first play and 9 on the second.
"I was just trying to hold on to the ball the whole time at the end," Proscia said. "They were going for it."
Pingitore than gained 4 for another first down and that iced it. Neujahr took a knee and Yarmouth was finally able to celebrate its 20-15 triumph.
"It wasn't easy," said Watterson. "(Oak Hill's) a good team. They battled the whole way. We have to give them credit. We made a lot of mistakes and turnovers. That didn't help us at all, but we have heart. We dug deep in the fourth quarter. We can't allow a third quarter like that to happen again."
"They don't go away," Proscia said. "At halftime, all we thought was that we didn't want a repeat of last year. We played (poorly) in the third quarter. I think we came out flat, but we made a stop when we had to."
"I like how we responded," Hartman added. "Proscia stood tall. He's a captain. He took it upon himself to win the game. Nate got the big first down at the end. We could have quit at the end and we didn't."
Proscia finished with 82 yards on 13 carries. He also caught a pass for 14 yards. Pingitore gained 53 yards on 13 attempts. Overhaug had 86 yards and the two TDs on 11 rushes. Neujahr gained 38 yards (and had a score) on six carries and completed 2-of-4 passes for 41 yards, with one interception. Ryan had a reception for 27 yards.
Offensive balance is obviously a Yarmouth strength. The Clippers outgained the Raiders 267-188 on the afternoon.
"The rest is nice," Proscia said. "We all get fresh legs. That's a tough defense. They had nine in the box and hit us hard. It was a tough game."
"We took the holes they gave us and had success," added Hartman. "We had some balance."
For Oak Hill, Allen finished with 83 yards on 21 carries. DuPuy gained 61 yards on 13 attempts. Morin wound up 5-of-7 for 61 yards and a score. He also had the short TD run.
The Raiders had two costly turnovers and committed two penalties for 10 yards. Yarmouth also gave the ball away twice. The Clippers also had eight penalties for 80 yards.
The turnovers and penalties are examples that Yarmouth still has a long way to go.
"We definitely have a lot to improve on," Watterson said. "The first two games have been positive, but we need to improve on the mistakes. We should be fine if we do that."
Hartman saw plenty that needs fixing.
"We're still growing," he said. "(Oak Hill's) line outplayed ours. They're bigger and much more physical. We got schooled today. We'll have to do better. These kids are learning how to really compete and play hard and bang heads. I think we're faster and more mature with our schemes, but we have to play smashmouth football."
Yarmouth seeks a 3-0 start when it hosts Traip (2-0) in a Thursday night (7 p.m.) affair. Last year, the Clippers rolled over the Rangers, 56-8, in Kittery. Traip has defeated Maranacook (13-8) and Boothbay (15-0) in the early going behind junior Tyler Nay.
Rest assured, Yarmouth won't be looking ahead. It knows there is still a long way to go.
"We still have something to prove," said Watterson. "Everyone last year thought we were just Brody Woodson and Eric Estabrook and didn't think we'd be that good this year after they graduated. We want to come out and show people it wasn't just them."
"We have to keep working hard," Proscia said. "If we do that, we'll keep doing well. We want to keep it going and keep improving the program. It doesn't matter who we lose. Traip's got a crazy-good running back. We expect a tough game. We're excited."
"Traip is 2-0 with a monster running back and they're tough as nails," Hartman added. "We can't look by anyone."
Sports Editor Michael Hoffer can be reached at email@example.com