BUCKSPORT, Maine — Size and status were no match for speed and quickness Friday night as Bucksport remained undefeated with a resounding 48-12 high school football victory over three-time defending Eastern Maine Class C champion Foxcroft Academy.
The 3-0 Golden Bucks literally ran wild against the Ponies’ defense as two-thirds of Bucksport’s three-headed rushing monster went over the 100-yard mark.
Star running back Nate Warren led the way with 178 yards on 23 carries, but it was fellow senior Andrew Findlay, finishing with 118 yards on just 11 carries, who stole the show early, averaging a whopping 12.9 yards per rush on his first seven carries.
In all, the Bucks piled up 313 yards on the ground behind the offensive line of center Stuart Leach, guards Robbie Winters and C.J. Breidt, and tackles Andrew Snowman and Josh Ellis.
“They were unbelievable. They gave us such a great push, there were holes there every time,” said Findlay.
If that wasn’t impressive enough, the Bucks’ defense was just as dominant, limiting 1-2 FA to a season-low 83 yards rushing.
“We just wanted to pressure with the defensive line,” Findlay said. “The way their offense is set up, any pressure on the interior line was really going to scramble their plays up. That and playing tight pass defense was key.”
Bucksport’s defense gave up 74 passing yards for 157 total while causing five fumbles, recovering three, and notching four sacks.
“Wayne Richards does a hell of a job as defensive coordinator,” said Bucks head coach Joel Sankey. “We knew we could outquick them up front and when they ran counters, we felt we could get penetration and our defensive tackles caused a lot of trouble for them.”
Ponies starting quarterback Jamie Nason left the game with an injured ankle or lower leg injury after being sacked late in the second quarter. Junior Ryan Stroud replaced him and completed 6 of 13 passes for 75 yards.
The Bucks scored first, ironically on defense despite driving all the way down to the FA-6-yard line on their opening drive. After fumbling it over to the Ponies on the FA-2, the Ponies returned the favor and Robbie McGuire recovered the loose ball in the end zone for touchdown with 8:08 left in the first. The Bucks were never tied or trailed in the game.
After Warren scored on a 5-yard run to make it 13-0 with 9:43 left in the second quarter, Foxcroft turned the ball over on the ensuing kickoff, but got it right back on a Bucks fumble two plays later. The Ponies answered with a four-play drive capped by Ian Champeon’s 36-yard TD run with 7:53 left in the first half.
FA’s momentum was short-lived, however as the Bucks answered with a seven-play, 50-yard TD drive capped by Findlay’s 16-yard run. The Ponies charged back, though, with nine-play, 71-yard drive ending with a 30-yard TD pass from Stroud to Josiah Richard down the left side with seven seconds left before halftime.
Unfortunately for FA fans, that seven seconds was more than enough for Warren to grab the ball on the ensuing kickoff about a foot from going out of bounds on the left (visiting) sideline, cutting right, breaking about six tackles and racing 92 yards for a half-ending TD return.
“That touchdown just before the half really got them that momentum back. We squib kicked it and that kid goes 90 yards,” said FA coach Paul Withee. “He’s the key to them. He’s the one who makes them tick. He doesn’t go down on first contact.”
The Ponies never recovered from the lightning-strike return as the Bucks scored 21 unanswered points.
“We weren’t sustaining our blocks and shot ourselves in the foot as we were getting something going,” Withee said. “It was very disturbing the way things kind of fell for us toward the end. I just can’t put my finger on what the problem is.”