WATERVILLE — The Hampden Academy Broncos were pushed to the limit by a determined Waterville High School team as the Broncos sought their sixth straight win.
The Broncos used big plays, two clutch defensive plays in the second half and some good fortune to survive for a 21-20 triumph on Seniors Day at Drummond Field Saturday.
Hampden Academy, now 6-1, spotted the 3-4 Panthers a 7-0 lead when Waterville quarterback Kyle Bishop scored on a quarterback sneak seven plays after Mike Quirion recovered a fumbled punt by Logan Steward at the HA-45.
But the Broncos strung together an 11-play, 70-yard drive to tie it with 54.2 seconds left in the half on a touchdown pass from Jon Haws to Steward in the back of the end zone.
A Panther defensive back appeared to have position on Steward but Steward said, “I reached over his head and snatched it away from him.”
The Broncos built a 21-7 lead by scoring on their first two possessions of the second half.
Steward came on to replace starting running back Nick Stevens after Stevens suffered an ankle injury that sidelined him for the rest of the game.
On his first carry, Steward cut off a block thrown by Mark Eldridge and scampered 60 yards down the right sideline to make it 14-7.
“Mark E. made a great block and I just ran up through,” said Steward.
A hurried 15-yard Purple Panther punt gave HA great field position at midfield and the Broncos took eight plays to punch it into the end zone as a 30-yard pass from Jon Haws to younger brother Matt set up Jon Haws’ 2-yard TD run.
Steward kicked all three extra-points.
But the resilient Panthers battled back.
Waterville took the ensuing kick off and marched 64 yards on nine plays with junior running back Aaron Saucier’s second effort producing a critical first down on fourth-and-five at the HA-16. That set the stage for J.T. Whitten’s 10-yard burst up the middle on the next play to make it 21-14.
The energized Panthers put together a 54-yard drive on their next possession only to have Whitten fumble as he was about to bull his way into the end zone. Jon Haws pounced on it in the end zone.
“(Whitten) was giving a second effort and I saw one of my lineman’s shoulders hit his hand, the ball went up in front of my face and fell to the ground and I just dove on it,” said Haws.
The Waterville defense held the Broncos to one first down on the ensuing drive, and the Panther offense found the end zone again with 5:20 left in the fourth quarter when Bishop scored on a quarterback sneak to finish off the eight-play, 62-yard drive.
The key play in the drive was a 15-yard pass from Bishop to Tim Locke, who fully extended to make a great catch on third-and-three.
But after Bishop’s TD run, the snap on the extra point kick was low and Bishop’s kick sailed wide left.
Waterville had already used all of its time-outs and the Broncos picked up a vital first down on third-and-14 when Haws found Cody Miller in the middle of the field for a 19-yard completion.
“It was just a middle read,” said Miller. “I read it, (Haws) threw it in the hole and I caught it. It was a nice pass by Jon,” said Miller.
That enabled the Broncos to run off some valuable time although two ill-advised passes that fell incomplete and stopped the clock, giving Waterville one last chance.
But Miller cut in front of a Waterville receiver and intercepted a pass to sew up the win with 1:42 remaining.
Haws completed 8 of 16 passes for 129 yards, and Miller had five receptions for 67 yards. Steward finished with 61 rushing yards on seven carries.
Miller and the Haws brothers were also stalwarts on defense.
Bishop completed 10 of 19 passes for 132 yards. Tim Locke made five catches for 74 yards and fullback Whitten had four for 49 yards.
Saucier, despite playing on a tender ankle, rushed for 115 yards on 20 carries.
Hampden Academy (6-1) 0-7-14-0 – 21
Waterville (3-4) 0-7-7-6 – 20
W — Bishop 1 run (Bishop kick)
H — Steward 11 pass from J. Haws (Steward kick)
H — Steward 60 run (Steward kick)
H — J. Haws 2 run (Steward kick)
W — Whitten 10 run (Bishop kick)
W — Bishop 1 run (kick failed)