NORTH READING — Football fans who love an offensive shootout can stop reading here.
Newburyport outlasted North Reading last evening in what might best be described as a rock fight at North Reading's new turf field.
The Clippers (1-1) forced seven turnovers, including six interceptions, in a 19-2 victory under steady rain.
Newburyport amassed a total of negative-six yards of offense in the first half, and still led 6-2 at the break.
The Clippers (1-1) showed improvement offensively in the second half, logging two clock-eating drives that resulted in touchdowns.
Andrew Sokol accumulated 44 of his 46 rushing yards in the second half, including a 9-yard touchdown run in the third quarter. James Hundertmark added an insurance touchdown — a 29-yard rush — in the fourth.
Defense was the story all evening. North Reading struck first, when senior linebacker Jamie Mantho tackled Newburyport quarterback Ryan O'Connor in his own end zone with 8:51 remaining in the second quarter.
Up to that point, the Hornets dominated play, keeping Newburyport pinned inside its own 30 for three of its first four offensive possessions.
Following the safety, North Reading received the kick, but the game changed on the next possession when Newburyport linebacker Dean Cataldo intercepted a pass from Ryley Warnock and returned it 85 yards for a touchdown.
"We self-destructed," said North Reading coach Jeff Wall, whose club fell to 0-2. "If you take the turnovers out of the equation, I didn't think they did much to us. We're starting a sophomore quarterback, so a night like that is bound to happen. We didn't want to throw, especially in this weather, but you have to put it up sometimes. They have some talented kids. We're going to have to regroup."
North Reading sophomore linebacker Carl Lipani had a first-half interception, which he returned to the Newburyport 1 before Sam Barlow made a touchdown-saving tackle.
Newburyport 19, North Reading 2
Newburyport (1-1):0 6 7 6 — 19
North Reading (0-2):0 2 0 0 — 2
NR — Safety, Jamie Mantho tackled QB in end zone, 8:51
N — Dean Cataldo 85 interception return (kick fail)
N — Andrew Sokol 9 run (Sokol kick), 4:57
N — James Hundertmark 29 run (kick fail), 4:49
Newburyport — Sokol 15-46; Ryan O'Connor 4-1; Tyler Cusack 3-0; Hundertmark 2-30; North Reading — Carl Lipani 15-60; Ryley Warnock 10-26; Kyle Boucher 4-16; Charles McCarthy 2-2
Newburyport — Ryan O'Connor 1-9-38, 1 interception; North Reading — Warnock 3-10-21, 4 interceptions; Boucher 0-4-0, 2 interceptions
Newburyport — Brett Fontaine 1-38; North Reading — James Mantho 1-11; Nick Rosano 1-8; Neal Rooney 1-2