ANDOVER, Mass. -- The Hamilton-Wenham offense didn't score many points in Tuesday's Eastern Mass. Division 3A semifinal against Newburyport, but it did produce big plays when the Generals needed them the most.
Hamilton-Wenham came up with three game-changing plays during its final offensive possession, none bigger than a 4-yard touchdown run by junior quarterback Trevor Lyons with 32.8 seconds to play.
Lyons' touchdown came on a sweep around right end on a third-down play. He went airborne when he was realized he was nearing the sideline, was hit by two defenders and landed on the goal line.
“I knew I was in,” Lyons said. “Half a yard, there was no way I wasn't getting in.”
The touchdown held up as Hamilton-Wenham advanced to Saturday's Division 3A Super Bowl with a 7-0 triumph. The Generals will face Bourne (12-0), which defeated Bishop Feehan in Tuesday's other 3A semifinal.
The Generals moved the ball 47 yards on 10 plays during its final drive. The other big plays in the drive were a 2-yard sneak by Lyons on a fourth-and-1 play, and a 30-yard screen pass from Lyons to senior running back Eliot Burr on a third-and-16 play. The screen pass moved the ball to the Newburyport 5-yard line.
Hamilton-Wenham improved its record to 11-0. Newburyport, which dropped an 18-6 decision to Hamilton-Wenham in September, finished its season with a 9-3 record.
“We had an idea it could be a defensive slugfest,” Hamilton-Wenham coach Andrew Morency said. “But in the end offensively our big guns got it done. Eliot Burr made a nice play there and Trevor kept his cool and got in the end zone. So you couldn't ask for a better ending.”
The screen pass Morency called was perhaps the most curious play call of the game. The Generals had run that play only twice before this season, but it turned out to be an excellent play against Newburyport's aggressive front seven (sometimes eight).
“I gotta tell you we were going into the attic a little bit,” Morency said. “That middle screen we hadn't run in a while, but it was something we knew we had and it's just kind of ironic that's the play the kind of broke it open a little bit.”
Lyons said he was surprised when he learned the third-down play would be a middle screen.
“That drive was all play calling by coach [Morency],” Lyons said. “We were waiting for the right opportunity to call that play. This was the perfect team to try it on because they like getting after me. It was a great call at a great time.”
NO PASSING ZONE
Newburyport coach Ed Gaudiano had no explanation for why his offense struggled against Hamilton-Wenham, which allowed an average of 8.0 points per contest in its previous 10 games.
“We thought we could do a couple things, but they did a good job against us up front,” Gaudiano said. “I'll have to go look at the film. I don't know. Didn't look pretty.”
Newburyport quarterback Connor Wile entered the game with 1,968 yards passing and 21 passing touchdowns this season. He was held to five completions in 16 attempts for 44 yards.
Newburyport didn't run a play on Hamilton-Wenham's half of the field after the first quarter. Its best scoring opportunity came on a 19-yard missed field goal attempt on the final play of the first quarter.
“Give them all the credit in the world,” Gaudiano said. “I thought they did a good job defending us.”
HAMILTON-WENHAM 7, NEWBURYPORT 0
Newburyport (9-3) 0 0 0 0 – 0
Hamilton-Wenham (11-0) 0 0 0 7 – 7
HW – Trevor Lyons 4 run (Paul Kim kick), 32.8.