CUMBERLAND -– The pressure is off.
Cumberland High secured its first playoff berth in three years on Friday night, shocking previously-unbeaten Central, 19-6, at Tucker Field. Senior running back Ryan Gaumond scored twice for the Clippers, who improved to 4-2 in Division II-A and fourth place in the division. The Knights dropped to 5-1.
The Clippers caught a break before the game even started when it was learned that standout tailback Mike Washington would watch the game from the sidelines. Washington, who has scored 18 touchdowns and rushed for 1,200 yards, was nursing an injury to prepare for the playoffs.
Cumberland opened up the scoring with an eight play, 65-yard drive that ended with a three-yard run by Gaumond. Junior quarterback Brendan Guerin had two big passes to Mitchell Baxter during the drive. On the second play from scrimmage, the two teammates connected on a 28-yard aerial to the left sideline. Facing a second-and-7 situation near midfield, Guerin found Baxter again with a 12-yard pass. Four plays later, Gaumond hustled his way into the end zone for the score.
The Clippers had two other opportunities fall short in the half. On its opening drive, Cumberland manufactured a four-minute, 13-play drive that ended on an interception by Guerin near goal line. At the start of the second quarter, Cumberland managed to get the ball down to the 20, highlighted by a 23-yard run on a fake punt by Gaumond. But Chris Antunes’ 35-yard field goal attempt came up short.
Cumberland prevented the Knights from getting into the red zone on their first two drives and time was the factor in an aggressive eight-play drive in the second quarter that ended at the 21 when the buzzer sounded.
The Clippers looked impressive on a nine play, 72-yard scoring drive early in the third quarter. After the Knights went four and out, Cumberland got the ball to midfield on three strong runs from Joe Fine that covered nine, five and five yards, respectively. Under a heavy rush, Guerin then spotted Gaumond near the left sideline for a 35-yard pass play. Guerin then gave the Clippers a 12-0 advantage with a 10-yard TD pass to Trent Vasey.
The Clippers stopped a potential touchdown by Central late in the third quarter. The Knights’ Edward Pupoh had a 35-yard run to the five-yard line called back on a penalty. On the next play, Gaumond stripped the ball from receiver Micah Woods on a long pass from quarterback Kyle Amado.
An interception by Tom Lazurus near midfield would set up the Clippers final TD in the fourth quarter. With the ball at the 40, Gaumond broke free for an 18-yard run on the first play from scrimmage. On a third-and-nine, Cumberland had a long 30-yard run by Chris Hayes called back on an illegal blocking penalty. Gaumond erased the gaffe by hustling for a 24-yard run on the next play and then scored his second TD of the night with a 13-yard run.
Cumberland’s defense, which has allowed just 61 points this season, had two interceptions by Lazarus and also recovered a fumble.
Cumberland finishes up its league season at Coventry next Saturday at 4 p.m.
Central 0 0 0 6 - 6
Cumberland 6 0 6 7 - 19
C- Ryan Gaumond 3 run (kick failed)
C – Mitchell Baxter 20 pass to Trent Vasey (pass failed)
C – Gaumond 13 run ((Chris Antunes kick)
Cent. – Edward Pupoh 42 run (pass failed)