BANGOR, Maine — Lonnie Hackett didn’t remember the start of Friday night’s Class A football clash between Bangor and Lawrence of Fairfield.
“I went to make a block on the kickoff,” said Bangor’s senior tailback, “and the next thing I knew I was on the sideline and it was halfway through the first quarter.”
But Hackett recovered quickly from his kickoff collision and, 38 carries and 170 rushing yards later, he and the rest of the Rams left the Cameron Stadium turf for a final time with the clearest of memories — a 28-21 win over the Bulldogs that leaves Bangor as the only undefeated team in the Pine Tree Conference.
“I’ve never felt worse than after last year’s game [a 27-24 Bangor loss] walking off the field after blowing a 17-0 lead to them,” said Hackett. “It’s good to come back and strike some revenge, because Lawrence is a great team.”
The win was Bangor’s first over Lawrence since 2004, ending a streak of six straight losses to the Bulldogs. It also puts the 7-0 Rams in position to earn the No. 1 seed for the Eastern Maine Class A playoffs with a win in next Friday’s regular-season finale against Brewer.
For 6-1 Lawrence, the defeat marked the end of a 36-game regular-season winning streak.
“We’ve just got to work on not beating ourselves,” said Lawrence coach John Hersom. “We can be a good football team but we can’t beat ourselves.”
Hackett finished the night with three touchdowns, including the deciding score on a 1-yard run that broke a 21-21 tie with 5:12 left in the game.
But the key to Bangor’s success was its offensive balance. The Rams rushed for 191 yards, while 6-foot-6 junior quarterback Joe Seccareccia completed 11 of 16 passes for 170 yards.
“Lonnie was running great,” said Seccareccia, “but we wanted to use the pass game to throw them a little bit because we knew they expected Lonnie to run the ball.”
Josiah Hartley, a 6-4 junior, was Seccareccia’s primary target with six catches for 114 yards, including a 28-yard touchdown reception during a second half that began with each team scoring on its first three possessions.
Nate Henigan, another 6-4 target, added five catches for 56 yards, including several drive-extending third-down receptions.
“Thank God for the weather, because you’re not going to be one-dimensional and beat Lawrence, and I’d like to think teams can’t be one-dimensional and beat us, either,” said Bangor coach Mark Hackett.
“Both teams had to go to that second element to open it up in the second half, and I just think we were fortunate that we’ve improved enough and had some huge catches and finishes.”
Lawrence star Christian Powers, meanwhile, was a defensive standout from his linebacker slot but was held relatively in check offensively, with 103 rushing yards and two touchdowns on 19 carries.
“Powers is a heck of a running back,” said Bangor linebacker Nic Cota. “We tried to take away the outside because he’s such a quick kid. Toward the middle of the game he started to cut back, and we adjusted to it as well as we could.”
This game began as a defensive struggle, with Hackett’s 1-yard second-quarter touchdown run that capped off a 13-play, 65-yard drive the only score of a first half that ended with Bangor leading 6-0.
But with the start of the third quarter came a flurry of offense.
Lawrence took the kickoff and drove 65 yards, with Bobby Belanger passing 12 yards to Jeshua Dearborn for the tying touchdown and Dearborn adding the extra-point kick to give the Bulldogs a 7-6 lead with 6:52 left in the period.
Hackett and Powers then exchanged touchdowns, Hackett scoring on an 11-yard run and Powers countering from 5 yards out to leave the teams tied at 14-14 entering the final period.
Bangor regained the lead when Seccareccia found Hartley down the right sideline for a 28-yard touchdown strike, with Hartley staying just inbounds to complete the play 50 seconds into the fourth quarter.
“I knew I had an advantage and I knew the ball would be up there and my job was to jump up and catch it,” said Hartley. “The first thing I did was look for the pylon and try to get the ball over it.”
Lawrence countered just four plays later on a 9-yard run by Powers, but Hackett capped off another 65-yard Bangor march with a 1-yard touchdown run after converting on fourth-and-1 from the 3 on the previous play.
“We had a lot of missed chances in the first half,” he said. “We had the ball in the red zone once when we came away with nothing. You need to capitalize on those to win games and luckily in the second half we did.”