DOVER-FOXCROFT, Maine — There won’t be any eye-popping statistics in the box score for Friday night’s clash between traditional LTC Class C powers Foxcroft Academy and Bucksport, but the teams’ win-loss records may provoke a few double-takes.
The host Ponies hardly dominated the game, except in two key categories: interceptions and fumble recoveries. Combined, they forced and took advantage of seven turnovers to gallop over the visiting Golden Bucks 27-0 at Oakes Field.
“We definitely had the advantage in turnovers and we executed our game plan defensively, but we weren’t able to move the ball very well against their defensive line,” said first-year Ponies head coach Danny White. “We just made the plays that enabled us to win the game.”
The Ponies are now 3-0, which is a bit of a surprise considering their graduation losses and a coaching staff change, but that’s not as surprising as the Bucks’ 0-3 record.
“I don’t know about the 3-0 part, but we expected to come out aggressive and play hard, and were doing that,” said White. Nobody expected to be 0-3 and they’re certainly not an 0-3 team.”
Coach Joel Sankey’s Bucks were again victimized by turnovers (four fumbles lost and three interceptions) and penalties (seven for 55 yards).
“We’re still inexperienced in a lot of positions and making a lot of mistakes, so the goal is to improve every game and hopefully make the playoffs by the end of the year,” Sankey said.
Foxcroft quarterback Ryan Stroud managed his offense well, scoring the first two touchdowns on runs and the third on a passing play.
Stroud completed 9 of 18 passes for 84 yards, one touchdown and no interceptions.
“Typically we don’t really have the players to get 20 carries for one guy and dominate the game, but we can capitalize on mistakes with key plays,” Stroud said.
The biggest of those key plays was Stroud’s 9-yard touchdown pass to Josiah Richard on a fade pattern to the right corner of the end zone with 6:53 left in the fourth quarter.
“It’s called is an alley-oop play where I aim for the back pylon in the end zone and just throw it up,” said Stroud, who also gained 29 yards on 10 carries.
White and Sankey both called the TD pass that put FA up 21-0 a difference-maker.
“Ryan said he could get him and Josiah said he could get open so I trusted them,” White said. “It was a timing pattern that relied on the two of them making the play. It was a big play and, I think, the back-breaker.”
After a scoreless first quarter, the Ponies got on the board with 3:59 left in the first half as Stroud capped a seven-play, 54-yard drive with a one-yard TD run up the gut.
The Ponies made it 14-0 almost three minutes into the third quarter as Stroud made Bucksport pay for a fumbled punt return. After punting it 54 yards to the Bucks’ 10-yard line, Stroud raced upfield to see Brandon Erickson recover a fumble at the B-25. Three plays later, Stroud raced off left tackle and outside for a 19-yard TD run.
The final score came with 5:53 left in the game and again came via a turnover, this time an interception and 16-yard return by Richard to the B-45. Three plays and two Bucksport personal foul penalties later, Ian Champeon scored on a 2-yard run off right tackle.
“We didn’t sustain long drives tonight against their defense,” White said. “We wanted to use our speed against their size and get our kids in space to utilize their athletic ability. We threw more than we have this season tonight, but we had to show them other things so they didn’t just gang up on our line.”
Richard had a fumble recovery and two interceptions while Chase Hutchinson had a fumble recovery and one interception to lead FA’s defense. Ryan Olmstead had a fumble recovery, Hunter Desimone and Ethan Preble each had a sack.
Bucksport’s Dustin Freeman left the game after being injured by an illegal block on a kick return with five minutes left and was taken away via ambulance after the game as a precaution.
“His back is really tight and he’s having a little trouble breathing so we’re taking him to the hospital to have a look at him,” said Sankey.