BATH — There was a stretch of the third quarter when the Morse offense rarely touched the ball.

Facing a Yarmouth team that had just cut its halftime deficit down to 21-19, the Shipbuilders needed a spark as the high school football contest moved into the later stages.

Up stepped running back Austin Baltazar, who found a lane off tackle, cut to the right toward the Clipper sideline and turned on the jets, sprinting 65 yards untouched to take the life out of the visitors in the Shipbuilders’ 35-19 Class C South victory on Friday night at McMann Field.

Baltazar once again led the way for Morse, rushing for 240 yards on 27 carries with four touchdowns and helping his Shipbuilders overcome 201 yards on the ground by Yarmouth standout quarterback Noah Eckersley-Ray.

“He is a tough kid, a great athlete, and he has worked his butt off for four years in the weight-room,” said Morse coach Jason Darling of Baltazar.

Both offenses began strong. Yarmouth (1-4) drove 70 yards on its first drive, the key play a 32-yard pass from Eckersley-Ray to receiver Caden Middleton (two receptions, 72 yards), who was playing in his first game of the season. Eckersley-Ray plowed into the end zone on a 5-yard run, with Sam Mason adding on the point-after kick for a 7-0 Clippers lead.

Morse, playing in front of a big crowd on Homecoming night, answered. Mason Savary returned the Yarmouth kickoff 30 yards, with Baltazar later scoring his first touchdown on a 19-yard run. Asa Hodgdon’s kick tied the game.

“Our kids have a lot of resiliency, and they knew it was going to be a 48-minute football game,” said Darling.

Yarmouth grabbed a 13-7 lead in the second quarter, with Eckersley-Ray using his size to carry Morse tacklers before breaking free for a 19-yard TD run.

“He is a load, a good, good football player, so we knew that we had to start tackling lower and play more physically,” said Darling.

“We worked on tackling low, and we tried to keep him in the box,” said Morse linebacker Thomas Trundy of tackling Eckersley-Ray. “We wanted to take their runners head on.”

Back came Morse. After another good return by Savary, the Shipbuilders drove 56 yards on eight plays, with Baltazar sprinting to paydirt from 9-yards out. Hodgdon again split the uprights, giving Morse a 14-13 lead with 1:45 remaining until halftime.

Yarmouth looked to strike back, but a hard rush by Jackson Walker resulted in a tipped Eckersley-Ray pass on fourth down, giving the Shipbuilders the ball at their own 49-yard line.

It took Baltazar one play to make the visitors pay. He took a handoff from quarterback Corey Larmon, cut left, then broke right into a huge hole into the Clipper secondary. His third TD run, this one from 51 yards, gave Morse a 21-13 halftime lead.

“It was big. After that touchdown, our team carried on from there,” said Baltazar, who rushed for 103 yards on 13 carries in the first half. “We were able to keep our heads up after they had scored. We answered there. You have to sacrifice and give it all that you got.”

Clippers strike

The Yarmouth defense forced a Morse three-and-out to open the second half. Eckersley-Ray and running back Jack Ricciardi went to work, driving the Clippers down the field. Eckersley-Ray broke off runs of 25 and 20 yards, and Ricciardi finished the 65-yard drive with a 5-yard TD run.

The Clippers went for two, but the Morse defense stuffed Eckersley-Ray to stay in the lead, 21-19.

It didn’t take long for Morse to respond. On its first play from scrimmage, Baltazar scored again for a 28-19 Shipbuilder edge.

The Morse defense bent, but did not break, from there. Marc Giggey recovered a fumble to end a Yarmouth drive, and twice the Clippers turned the ball over on downs in the fourth quarter.

“They adapted, especially in the second half,” Darling said. “We had about a half dozen injuries in a row, and we asked the kids to play in different positions. At a certain point, it was a challenge to get 11 kids on the field.”

Larmon finished the scoring with 1:48 remaining, slashing through the Yarmouth defense on a 19-yard TD run for a 35-19 lead.

The Morse defense picked up one more stop in the closing seconds.

Darling, after watching his young team start the season with two losses, has seen his team grow over the past three weeks with three solid wins. Now comes two straight challenges — a visit to York this upcoming Friday and a home date with undefeated Leavitt on Oct. 12.

“We are definitely a different team. We are getting there, and we will get better next week. The next two weeks will be a great barometer of where we are at. We will go out and play hard for 48,” Darling said.

Larmon was 5-for-10 in the air for Morse for 96 yards and an interception. Savary hauled in three passes for 65 yards, with Lukas Osterhout adding two receptions for 31 yards. Darius Hargett had eight tackles to pace the Shipbuilder defense, with Osterhout, Ihsan Myers and Baltazar making seven tackles.

Eckersley-Ray led the Yarmouth defense with seven tackles. Ricciardi had 79 yards on the ground on 20 carries. The Clippers rushed for 288 yards, while Morse picked up 262.

Comments are not available on this story.