DOVER-FOXCROFT — Two teams trying to rebound from humbling losses just a week ago shared a sense of uncertainty as they met at Oakes Field on Friday night.
And while the defenses ruled for most of the game, Deven Romain and Max Andrews provided the winning offensive combination as John Bapst of Bangor edged Foxcroft Academy 13-12 in an LTC Class C encounter.
Romain, a senior quarterback who completed just 4 of 13 passes through three quarters with two interceptions, capped off a late 10-play, 86-yard drive with a game-winning 7-yard scoring pass to Andrews with 2:17 to play.
“Looking at the clock, we had (five) minutes left so it was time to get something done,” said Romain, who finished the night good on 11 of 22 passes for 115 yards, including 7 of 9 for 83 yards on the decisive march.
“We hadn’t really be executing, but it was pretty much do or die at that time.”
Romain completed passes to four different receivers during the drive, including a 17-yard strike to Andrews on fourth-and-4 for a first down at the Foxcroft 35 and a 25-yard connection over the middle to Andrew Catlin for first-and-goal at the 10.
One play later, Andrews outjumped two shorter defenders to catch Romain’s pass along the right side of the end zone and came down with one foot inside the sideline to complete the 3-minute, 17-second drive.
“They had a safety and a corner over the top, and Deven threw it right over the corner and I was able to go up, catch it and get two feet inbounds,” said Andrews, a senior tight end. “It was a great throw.”
Foxcroft subsequently marched into John Bapst territory thanks in part to three offsides penalties against the Crusaders. A 13-yard pass from Chris Shorey to Ryan Rebar then gave the Ponies a first down at the Bapst 30 with a half-minute left, but ultimately a 50-yard field goal attempt by Cody Coiley came up short.
As important to the victory as the late heroics of Romain and Andrews for the Crusaders was a defensive effort that limited Foxcroft’s running game to 98 yards on 40 carries. Donnie Boyer rushed for 69 yards and a touchdown on 16 carries and Coiley added 31 yards on 15 tries, but the Ponies managed just four carries longer than eight yards.
“As much as the last drive was great, we’re not even in that ballgame if it wasn’t for the defense,” said John Bapst coach Dan O’Connell, whose 5-1 Crusaders overcame four offensive turnovers. “I was really impressed with the way we answered the bell defensively and matched their intensity, and it kept us in the game.”
Foxcroft, which like John Bapst began the season with four straight wins, fell to 4-2 with its second straight loss, but the silver lining for Ponies’ coach Danny White was his team’s competitive spirit in the aftermath of its 58-14 loss at Orono a week ago.
“We nearly played a complete football game and I was very proud of the way we played,” he said. “We played as a team for the first time in six weeks, and coming back off the game we had last week that was crucial. We didn’t make the plays on fourth down that it would have taken to win this game, so you tip you cap to them, and in a one-point game I’m going to ask myself questions all weekend. But the fact of the matter is (John Bapst) made plays when they had to be made and we didn’t.”
John Bapst took a 7-0 lead eight minutes into the contest on a 16-yard run by Catlin. Brad DeCesere set up the score with a 37-yard gain one play earlier, then Catlin got to the right sideline and used a downfield block by Andrews to reach the end zone.
Mark Dieuveuil’s extra-point kick gave the Crusaders a seven-point edge.
Foxcroft answered with a 72-yard scoring drive that began with a 23-yard pass from Shorey to Rebar and ended with an 11-yard scoring run by Boyer with 12.4 seconds left in the opening period.
Foxcroft took the lead midway through the second quarter thanks to a pair of big plays by Rebar.
First he intercepted a pass to give the Ponies possession at the John Bapst 18, then moments later he outjumped a John Bapst defender to tip a pass from Shorey and caught the rebound while on his back in the end zone for a touchdown to give Foxcroft a 12-7 lead with 6:24 left in the half.
John Bapst nearly regained the lead early in the third quarter when Jake Moore broke free from the Foxcroft defense and headed down the left sideline, but he was caught from behind by Ponies linebacker Alex Stevens at the 12-yard line. The 43-yard run gave the Crusaders a first down, but Andrews fumbled on the next play and Coiley recovered for Foxcroft.