BIDDEFORD, Maine — Sean Daigle won an Eastern Maine Class A championship in basketball and played for a regional title in football during his senior year at Edward Little High School in Auburn.
He used skills from both sports Saturday to rally the East to a 17-16 victory over the West in the 20th annual Maine Shrine Lobster Bowl Classic at Waterhouse Field.
The 6-foot-5, 240-pound tight end grabbed a deflected mini-Hail Mary pass from high school teammate Cody Goddard for the tying touchdown with 36.5 seconds remaining.
Winslow’s Scott Siviski then kicked the extra point to give the East its third win in the last four games of this rivalry while reducing the West’s overall lead in the matchup of the state’s top recently graduated high school football players to 15-5.
“I knew [Goddard] wasn’t going to throw it to me in the corner, and I knew he was going to throw it up high, so I hoped it would just get tipped and I’d go up like a basketball play and try to rebound it, pretty much,” said Daigle of his 8-yard reception on fourth-and-goal.
“I guess I have to thank my basketball coach for that.”
While EL basketball coach Mike Adams may get some of the credit, Bangor High School wideout Tyler Pembroke also played a crucial role in the pivotal play.
He was the intended receiver when Goddard lofted the ball toward the middle of the end zone, but when the double-teamed Pembroke realized he couldn’t make the catch, he deflected it to his left where Daigle was lurking.
“Goddard was trying to throw it to me, I waved my hand a little and he just threw it up there,” said Pembroke. “I saw Daigle out of the corner of my eye, so I’d thought I’d go up and try to catch it and if not then tip it to where he was.”
Siviski’s kick gave the East its only lead in a game largely controlled by reigning Fitzpatrick Trophy winner Nate Doehler.
The quarterback from Bonny Eagle of Standish scored on a 71-yard run down the left sideline on the game’s first play from scrimmage, and added a 32-yard field goal late in the second quarter to give the West a 10-0 halftime lead.
Doehler had 124 rushing yards by intermission but was held more in check after the break — save for a 4-yard scoring run that gave the West back a 16-10 lead midway through the fourth quarter.
Doehler then missed the extra-point kick, capping off a second half in which he rushed for 61 yards and completed just 1 of 6 passes for 11 yards and an interception by East MVP Chase Huckestein of John Bapst of Bangor.
That turnover led to a 28-yard field goal by Siviski to forge a 10-10 tie with 56.2 seconds left in the third quarter.
“We just had to contain Doehler inside,” said Huckestein, a linebacker. “He broke a couple at the beginning, but after that our D-line learned and kept him inside and followed him and the rest of the guys pursued. He still made some plays, but we were able to overcome them.”
The East offense, held to 108 total yards in the first half, used its short passing game to get untracked.
Goddard, who shared the East quarterbacking duties with John Bapst’s Derek Smith, engineered a six-play, 59-yard drive on his team’s second possession of the third quarter.
Completions of 11 yards to Waterville’s Cameron Bishop and 16 yards to Pembroke fueled the march before Goddard capped it off with a pass to the left flat that Skowhegan’s Billy Clark grabbed and raced 27 yards to the end zone to draw the East within 10-7 with 7:18 left in the period.
The West stalled near midfield on its next possession, and when Doehler tried to pass out of punt formation, Huckestein stepped in front of tight end Ryan Jolley of Wells for an interception he returned to the East 48.
“The coaches always had us prepared for the fake, especially with Doehler out there punting,” said Huckestein. “I saw the tight end release, and he didn’t look like he was going to chase [the punt] down. Then I saw him turn to the quarterback and the ball went up so I stepped in front and grabbed it.”
A 23-yard pass from Smith to Myers and a 19-yard strike from Smith to Tyler Green of Leavitt of Turner Center set up Siviski’s tying field goal.
After an exchange of punts, Doehler led the West on a 64-yard march — rushing eight times for 46 yards, including the 4-yarder to the front left corner of the end zone for the go-ahead score with 6:24 left.
But when the extra-point try went wide right, the East was still alive.
Goddard hit Myers with a 41-yard pass on third-and-22 from the East 28, and the East also capitalized on three West penalties to gain first-and-goal at the 8 in the final minutes.
Two rushing plays put the ball back to the 11 before a 3-yard pass to Myers left the East with fourth-and-goal from the 8.
Then Daigle used all of his multisport skills to make the first catch of his final high school game.
“We tried to tell Daigle all week that at some point that he was going to make a big play,” said East head coach Dan O’Connell of John Bapst. “We tried to go to him a couple of times in the first half and once in the second half down close and it just didn’t work out, but we just kept telling him to hang in there, and he wound up making the biggest play of the game.”