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Yarmouth downs Oak Hill, advances to Western C Final

Sports

Yarmouth downs Oak Hill, advances to Western C Final

YARMOUTH—For the second year in a row, the Yarmouth football team is heading for the Western Class C Final.

After their surprising run through the region a year ago, the Clippers doing it with a little home cooking in 2010 and Friday night, they went toe-to-toe with talented Oak Hill and came away with a 28-7 victory.

Yarmouth scored a touchdown in each quarter, getting two scores each from senior Nate Pingitore and junior Anders Overhaug and a clutch 73 rushing yards from senior Billy Clabby, filling in for injured senior Nick Proscia. The Clippes' clutch defense and special teams made the difference as they improved to 10-0, setting up a regional final date (at home) next weekend against either Lisbon or Winthrop.

"This is the game we didn't want to play, but we got it and I'm so proud of the boys," said Clippers coach Jim Hartman. "For the program itself, it's probably bigger than last year, the way we responded."

Beat goes on

A year ago, Yarmouth's program arrived and stole headlines in the postseason with road victories over Livermore Falls and Old Orchard Beach before falling at eventual state champion Dirigo in the regional final.

This fall, the Clippers have barely been challenged, winning six times in the regular season by 39 points or more. Yarmouth scored 46 points or more on six occasions and rolled to an 8-0 mark and the top seed in the region before drubbing visiting No. 8 Maranacook, 54-6, in last weekend's quarterfinals.

The Clippers did get stern test from Oak Hill back on Sept. 11 in Wales, but held on, 20-15.

The teams had no playoff history.

Friday night, Yarmouth didn't score points with abandon, but thanks to a team-wide effort, found a way to move on.

The Clippers got the ball first, but went three-and-out after freshman quarterback Brady Neujahr barely overthrew a wide open Overhaug on third down. The Raiders gained just six yards on their initial series and Yarmouth got the ball back in great field position after junior Dennis Erving returned the ensuing punt 22 yards to the Oak Hill 28.

"Special teams win you championships," said Hartman.

Five plays later, the Clippers went ahead to stay.

Runs of six yards from Proscia and seven from Pingitore got the ball close and on second-and-11 from the 15, Overhaug did the honors, twice cutting to his left to elude defenders en route to paydirt. Junior Bryce Snyder added the extra point and with 6;40 to play in the opening quarter, Yarmouth enjoyed a 7-0 lead.

The visitors embarked on an impressive drive, marching from their 25 to the brink of the Clippers' goal line. A 33-yard pass from senior Cameron Morin to senior Craig Morrill moved the ball into Yarmouth territory. Runs of 12- and nine-yards from senior Josh Allen set up a first-and-goal situation. Three rushes only gained six yards, however, and the Raiders faced a fourth-and-goal from the 3. After Yarmouth junior Carter Dorsett was helped off the field with an injury, his teammates rose to the occasion, stopping Allen at the 1, forcing a loss of downs.

"It pumped me up," Clabby said. "We had that situation a couple times this year, including earlier this year at Oak Hill and they scored on us. We used that as fuel this time and we stopped them."

The Clippers had to quickly punt and once again Oak Hill knocked on the door as the first quarter gave way to the second.

After junior Cody DePuy gained eight yards to set up first-and-goal just inside the 10, Morin couldn't handle the center exchange and the ensuing fumble was recovered by Yarmouth senior Tommy O'Toole.

The Clippers gave the ball right back, however, when Neujahr was intercepted by DePuy at the 23. Again, Yarmouth's defense stiffened, forcing a four-and-out, throwing Morrill for a four-yard loss on fourth-and-8.

The hosts restored some field position sanity on the next series as a 28-yard pass from Neujahr to Proscia moved the ball deep into Oak Hill territory. Unfortunately, Proscia hurt his knee on the play and was forced to the sidelines.

Enter Clabby.

On his first carry, the senior picked up 10 yards. A short run from Pingitore set up first-and-goal, but a fumbled exchange led to a six-yard loss. Neujahr threw incomplete, then on third-and-goal from the 12, Neujahr was sacked by senior Cody Provost, fumbled and sophomore Michael Saunders recovered for the Raiders and rumbled 37 yards to the Yarmouth 37.

Again, Oak Hill failed to capitalize as Clabby sacked Morin for a 10-yard loss and two plays later, junior Eric Deerwester sacked the quarterback for four more yards.

A 25-yard Erving return set the Clippers up at their 45 with just under two minutes to go before halftime and they would drive for a pivotal touchdown.

A 14-yard burst from Clabby (which saw him break a pair of tackles) got the march started. After a holding penalty, Overhaug broke free for 37 yards to the 12. On the next play, Overhaug roared through a huge hole and scored with 40.7 seconds to go. Snyder's extra point made it 14-0 Yarmouth at the half.

In the first 24 minutes, the Clippers outgained the Raiders, 191 yards to 39.

Yarmouth couldn't shake Oak Hill in the third period.

The Clippers did add to their lead after forcing a Raiders' punt. After a 13-yard return from sophomore Caleb Uhl, Yarmouth took just three plays to drive 47 yards. Clabby ran for six on first down, Overhaug gained 11, then Pingitore did the rest, finding just enough room down the left sideline to outrun the pursuit for a 30-yard score. Snyder's extra point made it 21-0 with 9 minutes to play in the third.

After another Oak Hill punt, the Clippers had a chance to salt away the victory, but after driving as far as the Raiders' 6, an apparent Overhaug TD run was negated by a hold and eventually Yarmouth brought Snyder in for a 29-yard field goal attempt, which went just wide to the right.

Oak Hill then got on the board.

After Deerwester's second sack of the night forced a third-and-14, Morin threw a quick hitch to Morrill (barely squeezing it in through two defenders) and Morrill did the rest, outrunning the defense to the end zone to complete a 72-yard scoring play. Senior Eric Vattaso added the point-after and suddenly, with 1:41 remaining in the third, it was a 21-7 contest.

To their credit, the Clippers responded immediately and added their final TD.

A Clabby eight-yard run got things started. As the fourth quarter began, Overhaug picked up 13 yards to the 1 and one play later, Pingitore finished the drive with his second touchdown of the night, racing in to the left. Snyder's extra point made it 28-7 with 11:24 to play, still plenty of time for a Raiders team that had rallied against Yarmouth in the past.

Not on this night, however.

After Morin and Morrill hooked up for a 36-yard pass play, a combined Pingitore and Clabby sack short-circuited the drive and an incomplete pass from Morin on fourth down gave the ball back to the Clippers. They couldn't milk the clock due to an ill-timed late hit penalty and punted back to Oak Hill with 7:38 to play.

The Raiders moved into Yarmouth territory on a 24-yard pass from Morrill to Provost, but a sack from junior Jon Held forced a fourth-and-10 and after an offsides penalty on the Clippers moved the ball up five yards, Morin threw incomplete and Yarmouth got the ball on downs with 5:03 to play.

Again, the Clippers couldn't gain a first down and had to punt, but with 3:36 to go, Uhl delivered the coup de grace, intercepting Morin and returning the ball to the Yarmouth 37.

Runs of six-yards by Uhl and five from Pingitore gave the hosts a first down. Pingitore ran for four, then two and on third-and-four, Neujahr hooked up with O'Toole for 11 yards, gaining a final first down and running out the clock.

The Clippers then celebrated their 28-7 victory.

"We came out strong," said Clabby. "Our defensive plan was to get in the backfield and that's just what we did."

"We lost our two best defensive players and these kids got punched in the side of the head," said Hartman. "We haven't gotten punched all year and we had to punch back."

Yarmouth's ground attack was awesome once again.

Overhaug led the way with 108 yards and two TDs on 12 carries. Clabby added 73 clutch yards on 10 rushes.

"Billy Clabby just put us on his back," Hartman said. "He and Proscia are best friends. He responded and defended his teammate."

"I had a chance to step up on offense and pick up my buddy, Nick Proscia, when he got injured, and I just ran straight and hoped for the best," said Clabby.

Proscia (who returned to the game momentarily in the second half) gained 16 yards on five attempts in his limited time. Uhl rushed three times for 17 yards.

"We have weapons," said Clabby. "Anders can run outside. After we run outside, we can pound it in the middle. It's a very versatile offense."

"They all ran their butts off," said Hartman. "We got key first downs."

Neujahr completed 2-of-10 passes for 39 yards (O'Toole caught one for 11 and Proscia for 28) and had seven yards on three rushing attempts.

The hosts finished with 337 yards of offense.

Defensively, Yarmouth had five sacks, good for 34 yards.

All was not ideal for the Clippers, however, as they turned the ball over twice and were penalized eight times for 49 yards.

"We had three touchdowns called back," said Hartman. "No football team is ever perfect. We'll keep pushing."

For Oak Hill, Allen was held relatively in check with 62 yards on 16 carries. Morin threw for 150 yards (all to Morrill) on 4-of-13 passing with a TD and an interception. Morrill threw twice and completed both attempts to Provost, good for 41 yards. The visitors managed 186 yards of offense.

The Raiders (who wound up 5-5) had two penalties for 20 yards and two turnovers.

One win away

Yarmouth will host either No. 2 Lisbon (8-1) or No. 3 Winthrop (7-2) in the regional final. The Greyhounds and Ramblers meet Saturday in their semifinal. The Clippers eked out a dramatic 16-14 victory at Lisbon Oct. 2. They didn't face Winthrop in the regular season.

Yarmouth has no playoff history with either school and knows it will have its hands full.

The Clippers, just happy to be there a year ago, are very well equipped to lock up a date in their first state championship game if they play to their capabiliity.

"Homefield's really fun," said Clabby. "Speed on the turf is what we're about. We're focused. We have to work on penalties. That's our weakness right now. And continue to work on our running game."

"We're not as banged up (this year)," Hartman added. "Carter and Proscia will be back. I'm happy with our team and where we're going and the progress of the program. We had phenomenal support from the fans tonight."

Sports Editor Michael Hoffer can be reached at mhoffer@theforecaster.net

Photo: Jason Veilleux / For The Forecaster

Yarmouth senior Nate Pingitore fights off a host of Oak Hill tacklers.

Photo: Jason Veilleux / For The Forecaster

Yarmouth senior Asa Arden breaks up a pass intended for Oak Hill senior Craig Morrill.

Photo: Jason Veilleux / For The Forecaster

Yarmouth senior Tommy O'Toole knocks a potential touchdown pass out of harm's way early in Friday's contest.

Photo: Jason Veilleux / For The Forecaster

Yarmouth junior Dennis Erving races upfield during an impressive punt return in the first half.