HAMPDEN — Junior Alonzo Connor scored four touchdowns — including game-winner in the final minute of the game — as No. 3 Gardiner defeated No. 2 Hampden Academy 28-25 in an Eastern Maine Class B semifinal Friday night.
The Tigers will play the winner of today’s Belfast-Leavitt matchup in next weekend’s regional final.
Connor led the Tigers in a back-and-forth fourth quarter, scoring two touchdowns. He gave Gardiner the lead for good after breaking through the middle of the Bronco defense to score on a 31-yard touchdown run with just 46.7 seconds left to play.
“That last drive was a perfect play,” said Connor, who had 202 yards rushing on 33 carries and scored all four Gardiner touchdowns. “It took the whole team to do everything tonight.”
The Broncos tried to fight back with little time left, starting at their own 20 after a Gardiner kickoff into the end zone.
Senior quarterback Jon Haws led the Broncos into Gardiner territory before junior Ted Worthley sacked a scrambling Haws on the final play of the game.
Hampden took a 10-0 lead after the first quarter and never trailed until the fourth.
Nick Stevens scored on a 37-yard run after a fake punt in the first quarter. Cody Miller added a 27-yard field goal.
Connor put Gardiner on the board in the second on a 10-yard scoring run to cut Hampden’s lead to 10-7.
Stevens again gave the Broncos a 10-point lead after a 1-yard run in the second and Miller added the extra-point kick to make it 17-7 at the half.
Connor scored three of the next four touchdowns in the game. He had a 5-yard score in the third quarter and began the scoring in the fourth with another 5-yard run with 4:51 left.
After the Broncos trailed 21-17, Haws capped a seven-play, 43-yard drive, by scoring on a 12-yard run with 1:38 remaining in regulation. Tom McCann rushed for the two-point conversion to give Hampden a four-point lead.
Gardiner returned the kickoff to its own 48-yard line before Connor ran in the winning score.
Dalton Eldridge rushed 12 times for 64 yards for the Tigers.
Stevens led the Broncos with 117 yards on 17 carries with two touchdowns. Haws added eight carries for 77 yards and a touchdown.
Gardiner (8-2) 0 7 7 14 — 28
Hampden (8-2) 10 7 0 8 — 25
H—Stevens 37 run (Miller kick)
H—Miller 27 field goal
G—Connor 10 run (Meehan kick)
H—Stevens 1 run (Miller kick)
G—Connor 5 run (Meehan kick)
G—Connor 5 run (Meehan kick)
H—Hawes 12 run (McCann rush)
G—Connor 31 run (Meehan kick)
Stearns 14, Foxcroft 13
At Millinocket, Ryan Hibbs’ 58-yard touchdown run on the first play of the fourth quarter and Brandon Bouchard’s point-after kick gave the No. 1 Minutemen a hard-fought Eastern Maine Class C semifinal win over the No. 5 Ponies.
In next Saturday’s regional final, Stearns will play the winner of today’s 5 p.m. game between No. 2 John Bapst and No. 3 MCI of Pittsfield, which has been moved to the Winkin Complex at Husson University in Bangor.
Foxcroft grabbed a 13-0 lead in the first quarter on the heavily favored Minutemen on Chris Shorey’s 3-yard TD run after an 82-yard return of the opening kickoff by Kyle Gould, and a 96-yard fumble recovery return by Matt LaCasce. Cody Coiley connected on the first PAT kick, but the second one was blocked.
Stearns picked up its first score in the opening quarter as well on tailback Billy Eurich’s 1-yard run. Bouchard also kicked the PAT after that tally.
The Minutemen clinched the win by holding the ball for the last eight minutes of the game, earning first downs three times on third down and once on fourth down.
Tailback Hibbs was the top ground gainer for Stearns with 104 yards on nine carries, Eurich ran 24 times for 102 yards and fullback Charlie Tapley added 101 yards on 10 carries.
The Minutemen defense held the Ponies to 81 total yards, all on the ground. Dylan Andrews led Foxcroft Academy with 12 carries for 30 yards on offense and 11 tackles on defense.
Foxcroft (5-5) 13 0 0 0 — 13
Stearns (10-0) 7 0 0 7 — 14
F—Shorey 3 run (Coiley kick)
F—LaCasce 96 fumble recovery (kick blocked)
S—Eurich 1 run (Bouchard kick)
S—Hibbs 58 run (Bouchard kick)
Weather forces changes
Friday’s rainfall has prompted several schedule changes regarding Eastern Maine high school football playoff games.
Two semifinals were postponed from Friday to Saturday. In Class A, No. 8 Brunswick (6-3) now will play at No. 4 Lewiston (7-2) at 6 p.m. Saturday. In Class B, No. 5 Belfast (5-4) will play No. 1 Leavitt of Turner Center (9-0) at 2 p.m. Saturday, with the game to be played on the artificial turf facility at Kents Hill School.
The LTC Class C semifinal between No. 3 Maine Central Institute of Pittsfield (6-3) and No. 2 John Bapst of Bangor (7-2), originally scheduled for 5 p.m. Saturday at Cameron Stadium in Bangor, will be played at the same time but has been moved to the Winkin Complex on the campus of Husson University at Bangor.