BANGOR — If touchdowns are the most important statistic kept during a football game, turnover ratio is not far behind — a point being proven so far this fall at Bangor High School.
Coach Mark Hackett’s Rams, who had committed just a handful of giveaways entering Friday night’s Class A matchup against Lewiston, capitalized on seven turnovers by the Blue Devils to roll to a 38-6 victory at soggy Cameron Stadium.
“We’re very aware that turnovers are a key part of the game and coming into this game we knew that whoever turned the ball over less had an advantage,” said Bangor junior fullback and linebacker Cody Chapman. “It was raining but we stayed on task. It’s too bad for (Lewiston) that they had a few fumbles, but we took advantage and came out on top.”
That opportunism was complemented by running backs Chapman and Zeb Tuell, who combined for 233 rushing yards and five touchowns to pace a Bangor offense that committed just one turnover.
Chapman had 147 yards and three touchdowns on 23 carries while Tuell rushed for 86 yards and two scores on 17 tries.
“We’ve got a good 1-2 punch,” said Hackett, whose team is now 6-1 after scoring its fifth consecutive victory. “We’ve got a quick, strong guy who’s a little lighter (Tuell), and then we’ve got a big, strong kid (Chapman) who’s a man out there.”
Chapman and Tuell thrived behind an offensive front — center Brendan Moore, guards Greg Duff and Brandon Vang, tackles Aaron Huntington and Elijah Hughes and tight end Ellis Throckmorton — that controlled the line of scrimmage.
“This whole week we’ve been practicing like it was going to be a big Eastern Maine playoff game,” said Hughes. “They beat us by one touchdown in our (preseason) exhibition game, so we took this as an opportunity to step up and see what we could do as a team. I think we did real well.”
Bangor’s defense, meanwhile, limited Lewiston to 147 total yards and no play from scrimmage longer than 15 yards.
“I think with the field the way it was and our strength inside they couldn’t go inside, and when they got outside we made a few plays,” said Hackett. “We’re starting to want to play defense for each other, they really believe in each other.”
Lewiston, 3-4 and in danger of missing the Pine Tree Conference playoffs, scored on its first possession but managed just four first downs the rest of the way. Early penalties, five lost fumbles and two pass interceptions by Bangor’s Carl Farnham prevented the Blue Devils from developing any offensive rhythm in this rematch of last year’s Eastern Maine Class A final.
“They had a six on the scoreboard at the beginning of the game and at the end, and that shows that we played the full 48 minutes,” said Chapman.
Bangor drove 55 yards in six plays after taking the opening kickoff, with Tuell scoring from 5 yards out and Farnham adding the extra-point kick to give the Rams a 7-0 lead less than two minutes into the game.
Lewiston responded with a 71-yard march to pull within 7-6 on a 2-yard run by Jeff Turcotte (22 carries, 70 yards).
A Justin Scripture fumble recovery at the Lewiston 17 set up the first of Chapman’s two second-quarter scores, a 3-yard run with 5:48 left in the period.
Bangor soon got another short field thanks to a 9-yard Lewiston punt. Chapman then carried four straight times to amass the full 35 yards of the scoring drive, with the touchdown coming from 9 yards out to give Bangor a 19-6 lead with 2:05 left in the half.
Lewiston turned the ball over on four of its five second-half possessions, and with the field deteriorating amid the rainy conditions, Bangor continued to rely on its ground game.
Tuell scored from 6 yards out and Chapman had a 19-yard scoring run in the third quarter as the Rams extended their lead to 31-6. Sophomore Xavier Lewis capped off the scoring with a 3-yard touchdown run midway through the final period.
“We knew it was going to be a tough game,” said Huntington, “but we came out and played for 48 minutes, that’s the big thing. We knew the ground wasn’t going to be that good, but we kept our heads in the game and kept pushing forward, played our assignments and came out on top.”