BANGOR, Maine — There’s nothing complicated about the No. 1 goal of the Bangor High School football program each season — to win the last game.
After setting the defensive tone with a goal-line stand at the outset of Friday night’s Pine Tree Conference Class A championship game and following that up with a punishing rushing attack to secure a 24-7 victory over Brunswick, the Rams will get that chance.
Bangor (11-0) earned its first regional title since 2004, and will play the survivor of Saturday’s Western A final between Windham and Cheverus of Portland for the state crown on Nov. 21 at Fitzpatrick Stadium in Portland.
“It’s what you dream about,” said Bangor senior tailback Lonnie Hackett, who amassed 182 yards and a touchdown on 35 carries to surpass 2,000 rushing yards for the season.
“The last four or five years we’ve worked for this game. Now it’s finally here and we finally have the chance. I’m so proud of everyone on the team. We have one game left, and I can’t wait.”
Hackett’s yardage — fueled by the physical line play of tackles Andrew Logan and Jacob Thompson, guards Ben Rapaport and Josh Bishop, center Joe Quinn, fullback Maxx Alexander and tight end John Kelley — helped Bangor total 306 rushing yards.
“We tried to stop the run,” said Brunswick senior safety Rashon Edgerton, “but they did a really good job of keeping the chains moving. They ran the clock down pretty well and our offense wasn’t able to stay on the field long enough.”
Quarterback Joe Seccareccia — who averaged just 3.3 carries per game in Bangor’s first 10 victories — also was a key component of the Rams’ rushing attack with 93 yards on seven tries, including a 27-yard touchdown run that gave Bangor the lead for good late in the second quarter.
“He’d probably be a tailback if he wasn’t a quarterback,” said Bangor coach Mark Hackett. “The kid can run, he’s strong, he’s aggressive, and we’ve always felt we needed to find him a way to run the ball 10 times a game.”
Seccareccia also completed 7 of 10 passes for 76 yards, including an 18-yard TD pass to Josiah Hartley.
Senior Nate Henigan also had four catches for 34 yards for the Rams, as well as a 25-yard field goal, three extra-point kicks and a blocked punt.
Seccareccia and Ethan Vance each had a pass interception for Bangor, the only two turnovers of the game. The Rams more than doubled Brunswick in total offense, 382-179.
“The last two weeks we’ve kind of proven that we’re going to be pretty physical up front,” said coach Hackett, “and it showed tonight again.”
A 39-yard option pass from fullback John Williams to Rashon Edgerton gave Brunswick first-and-goal from the 4 on the game’s first possession.
But Bangor’s defense held Williams to three yards on the next three plays, then stuffed quarterback Stefan Jensen for no gain on fourth down.
“That’s when we knew we were ready to play,” said Bangor sophomore linebacker Nic Cota.
Henigan’s blocked punt near midfield late in the first quarter set up Bangor’s first scoring drive.
Seccareccia gained 13 yards on third-and-8 for a first down inside the Brunswick 20, and he then capped off the 10-play, 46-yard march by finding Hartley open down the right sideline on fourth-and-11 from the 18.
“Joe played an amazing game,” said Lonnie Hackett. “Every time we needed a big third-down conversion or a big play, he came through.”
Brunswick (9-2) answered just 58 seconds later after recovering an onside kickoff at midfield.
Williams did all of the damage, running for gains of 23 and 3 yards before catching a pass from Jensen over the middle and racing to the end zone to complete a 24-yard touchdown play that produced a 7-7 tie.
But Bangor, playing in its seventh regional final in the last 10 years, drove 48 yards in four plays to regain the lead, as Seccareccia passed 19 yards to Hartley and two plays later used a block by Rapaport as the catalyst for a 27-yard bootleg run to the end zone to give Bangor a 14-7 lead with 1:56 left in the half.
“I saw Rapaport pull out and he blocked the end so I went right around him,” said Seccareccia. “Then [Brunswick safety John Imbriano] was running at me, so I ran as fast as I could to get outside and get to the marker.”
Bangor’s ball control put the game away, as Brunswick ran just two offensive plays in the third quarter and 13 plays overall in the second half for 35 yards with two turnovers.
“Their defensive line did a nice job getting penetration and stuffing our run plays,” said Edgerton, “and when we tried to pass they got good pressure on our quarterback to make it hard to get throws off.”
The Rams drove 59 yards in 11 plays after taking the second-half kickoff before Henigan kicked a 25-yard field goal to extend the lead to 17-7 with 5:52 left in the third quarter.
Seccareccia then intercepted a Jensen pass at the Bangor 25 to set up a 14-play, 75-yard march capped off by Hackett’s 5-yard scoring run with 10:42 left in the game.
The Rams converted three third-down situations before a 16-yard keeper by Seccareccia gave Bangor first-and-goal at the Brunswick 9.
“He’s a better athlete than I thought he was,” said Edgerton of Seccareccia. “He’s a really good athlete, he has good speed and he did a nice job of getting to the outside. He kind of caught us off guard.”