Broncos roll past Bears

Posted Sept. 12, 2008, at 11:35 p.m.

HAMPDEN, Maine — Their 2007 playoff hopes dashed in great part by a frustrating loss at Maranacook of Readfield, the Hampden Academy Broncos needed just one offensive play to let the Black Bears know things would be different.

Senior quarterback Shawn Smith took Hampden’s first snap from center and raced 50 yards around right end for the first of his three rushing touchdowns as the Broncos cruised a 46-0 victory over Maranacook at the Weatherbee School complex on Friday night.

“I think that play gave us the huge boost that we needed just to set the tone of the game, and it kind of knocked them down a little,” said Smith, who rushed for 122 yards on eight carries and also threw a 41-yard touchdown pass to Justin Rodgerson.

Hampden improved to 2-0 with a dominant two-way performance against an undermanned Maranacook team — whose top offensive threat, Pat Norwood, was limited by an ankle injury and who lost starting quarterback James Mrazik to a shoulder injury late in the first half.

Hampden amassed 305 total yards to just 35 for the Black Bears, with Maranacook held to mi-nus-23 yards after intermission.

Rodney Murray and Nathan Rocker each forced a fumble, with Michael Jenkins returning Rocker’s play 15 yards for a touchdown in the third quarter. Tyler Poll also recovered a fumble for Hampden, while Rodgerson and Nolan Turner each had a pass interception.

“We knew they were real fast, a good cutback team,” said Jenkins, “so that’s what we focused on in practice.”

Smith’s first touchdown came less than two minutes into the contest, after Hampden’s defense had held Maranacook without a first down on its first possession.

Smith took the snap at midfield and immediately raced to his right until a key block on the outside by Turner enabled him to turn the corner. He shook off a tackler at the 30, then cruised into the end zone to give the Broncos a 6-0 lead.

“We thought the stretch play would hurt them outside,” said Smith, who added the two-point conversion to extend the lead to 8-0. “So we started with it and it worked. We had good blocking up front, and a good hole and we scored on it.”

A short Maranacook punt set up Hampden for its second score late in the second quarter, with Smith sneaking in from the 2 to cap off a five-play, 36 yard drive with 4:33 left in the half.

The Broncos scored the back-breaker moments later, after Turner intercepted a Mrazik pass in the right flat and returned it 21 yards to the Maranacook 41.

Smith cashed in on the next play, looking over the middle and finding Rodgerson open over the middle with a perfect spiral for another Hamp-den touchdown with 1:24 left in the half. Spencer Ranger’s extra-point kick gave the Broncos a 21-0 lead at the break.

“We had talked about me checking down guys and trying to get the safety to move around a little,” said Smith. “That’s what I did, and I think the safety cheated a little and I threw over the top of him and [Rodgerson] was open.”

Smith scored on an 11-yard run on Hampden’s first possession of the second half, then Maranacook quarterback Corey Palmer fumbled while being sacked by Rocker and Jenkins picked the loose ball and scored to make it 33-0.

“I thought I was going to get the sack actually,” said Jenkins. “I was glad I didn’t.”

Jenkins added a 12-yard rushing touchdown later in the period, and Alex Cust capped off the scoring with a 7-yard fourth-quarter run.

Hampden returns to action next Friday night with its stiffest test of the season at Gardiner.

“They’re the state champs, so we’re going to have to be ready,” said Hampden coach Harry McCluskey. “That’s going to be a tough task. We’ve just got to get better every week, that’s what it’s all about.”

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