BANGOR – If you look at the score, 34-6, you would assume that the Bangor High School Rams cruised past Messalonskee High School of Oakland Friday night.
But scores can be misleading.
The game was actually scoreless until there was just eight-tenths of the second left in the first half when Josiah Hartley caught a 20-yard touchdown pass from Joe Seccareccia.
The Rams fed off the late TD and pulled away in the second half to improve to 4-0.
Messalonskee fell to 2-2.
Bangor’s late first-half drive covered 89 yards in 10 plays over a span of 2:36.
Seccareccia completed passes of 12 yards to John Kelley and a pair to Hartley for nine and 20 yards before finding Hartley in the left corner of the end zone.
“It was a wheel route. Sean [Mackintosh] runs an inside post pattern [slant across the middle toward the goal post] and I come off his butt and cut to the pylon [in the corner of the end zone],” said Hartley, who lines up in the inside slot with Mackintosh on his outside. “The throw was right on.”
The 6-foot-4 Hartley used his significant size advantage to out-jump 5-foot-10 Messalonskee safety Sam Dexter and snare the ball.
“Most of the time, that’s not designed to be a jump ball. But it worked out that way and it helped us,” said Hartley.
“[Mackintosh] was wide open but Josiah has the ups [jumping ability] and he took advantage,” said Seccareccia.
“Bangor lives on the big play and they made a big play right before halftime,” said Messalonskee coach Wes Littlefield.
“That was awesome. That gave us a big momentum boost. That really helped,” said Bangor safety Dylan Morris.
The Rams scored on their first possession of the third quarter after getting good field position courtesy of a 12-yard punt.
The Rams marched 58 yards on nine plays with a 22-yard pass from Seccareccia to Mackintosh on third-and-10 keying the drive.
Seccareccia said it was the same play as the Hartley TD reception “but they covered Josiah and Sean was wide open across the middle.”
“The [defensive back] was behind me so I had a clear view [of the pass],” said Mackintosh, whose catch was his first of the season.
“That was the play of the game,” said Bangor coach Mark Hackett.
Hartley capped the drive with a four-yard run.
The Eagles drove the ball from their own 29 to the Bangor-30 but defensive end John Kelley threw Messalonskee running back Keenan Knox for a three-yard loss on second and 10 and, following an eight-yard run by Corey Foye, a pass fell incomplete on fourth down.
It took Bangor just three plays to score as Hartley’s 31-yard run and a 15-yard horse collar tackle penalty set the ball up at the M-29 and Seccareccia found Nick Sherwood in the right corner of the end zone to make it 20-0.
“Nick put on the jets and I just put it up there for him,” said Seccareccia.
Linebacker Nic Cota made it 26-0 by returning a fumble 30 yards for a score and Hartley made it 34-0 with a two-yard TD run and two-point conversion dash.
Dexter ran 15 yards on the game’s final play to enable Messalonskee to avoid the shutout.
Hartley finished with 162 rushing yards on 26 carries while Seccareccia completed 8-of-14 passes for 141 yards.
The Eagles moved the ball effectively with their double wing behind the running of Pine Tree Conference rushing leader Keenan Knox.
The shifty 5-foot-8, 155-pound Knox ran for 100 yards on 18 carries and nearly broke free on a couple of occasions as he spun off tackles and kept his legs churning.
But the Eagles hurt themselves with drive-killing penalties and the Rams did a better job defensing the double wing in the second half as they were able to get better penetration.
Messalonskee averaged 4.9 yards a carry in the first half but 3.9 in the second half.
“They drove it down our throats in the first half but we opened our eyes and bore down in the second half,” said Cota.
“Coach [Hackett] came into the locker room at halftime and told us we needed to be more physical in the second half,” said Seccareccia, who also plays safety.
Hartley credited the offensive line with helping them create a balanced attack.
“When you can establish a good running game, it opens up the pass,” said the hard-running Hartley, who broke numerous tackles.
“You have to mix it up against a good team like Messalonskee,” said Hackett.
Seccareccia said Messalonskee was a “great” opponent.
“They’re the best team we’ve played so far,” he said.
Bangor’s defense was led by safety Wyatt Frost, who had seven tackles, along with Cota (six tackles), Seccareccia and cornerback Sherwood (5.5 each) and tackle Tyler Shanklin (five tackles). For Messalonskee, linebacker Josh Hall paced the defense with seven tackles and fellow linebacker Tyler Easler had 6.5.
Messalonskee was penalized nine times for 90 yards. Bangor had four penalties for 45 yards.
“We would drive the field and then we’d get a penalty and the drive would stop. That contributed to a letdown in the second half,” said Littlefield.
Bangor (4-0) 0-6-8-20 – 34
Messalonskee (2-2) 0-0-0-6 – 6
B – Hartley 20 pass from Seccareccia (kick failed)
B – Hartley 4 run (Hartley rush)
B – Sherwood 29 pass from Seccareccia (pass failed)
B – Cota 30 fumble return (pass failed)
B – Hartley 2 run (Hartley rush)
M – Dexter 15 run