HAMPDEN — The Hampden Academy football team displayed resiliency and showcased the value of their offensive line on Friday night.
The Broncos rushed for 450 yards on 63 carries with junior running back Logan Steward accounting for 226 yards on 18 carries as they snapped Brewer’s six-game winning streak with a thrilling 35-28 triumph.
Hampden, which had lost two of its previous three, concluded the regular season at 5-3 while Brewer wound up 6-2. Both will be in the Eastern Maine Class B playoffs next weekend and they could wind up facing each other again.
The Broncos took a 13-7 lead into the intermission and came a foot away from extending the lead on the final play of the first half when Steward was tackled by Jacob Chapman after he had scampered 65 yards.
On the first series of the second half, Broncos leading rusher Nick Stevens, who had 124 first-half yards on 14 carries, suffered a game-ending shoulder injury when he was hit by a bunch of Witches including Anthony Jackson.
Stevens fumbled on the play, Brewer’s Brody Valley recovered at the HA-19 and the Witches cashed in to take a 14-13 lead on Valley’s seven-yard run.
But the Broncos’ offensive line, featuring center Logan Lafayette, guards Joey Doyon and Simon Burditt, tackles Cameron Prescott and Josh DeLima and tight end Jeddy Doyon, continued to capitalize on its size advantage and open nice holes which enabled the Broncos to score on its next two drives and to take a lead they would never relinquish.
“The main thing is we stuck with it for all four quarters,” said junior DeLima. “We made some mistakes, the coaches did a good job fixing them and we were able to push them (off the ball).”
“The line made some great holes. They carried us all the way,” said Steward, who has now rushed for 672 yards in his last three games.
He also had two interceptions.
“It was our home field and we couldn’t lose,” said Jeddy Doyon.
The go-ahead drive was an eight-play, 63-yarder capped by a 32-yard screen pass in the left flats from Brian Fickett to Nick Rodgerson, who had dropped a halfback option pass from Steward on the first series after getting behind the Brewer secondary.
“It was pretty nerve-wracking out there,” said Rodgerson. “I just tried to do what I could. A screen pass doesn’t seem like a long-distance play but with the blocking we have, we can do anything with it.”
The next drive covered 57 yards on nine plays with Steward bursting 10 yards for the TD with 27.4 seconds left in the period.
Steward had rattled off a 14-yard run earlier in the drive after he was seemingly trapped in the backfield.
The Witches battled back with a 10-play, 60-yard march that culminated in Valley’s three-yard run with 7:18 remaining.
But the Broncos all but sewed up the win as Steward (4 carries, 59 yards) and junior Ben Cambridge (4-for-24) combined to lug the ball eight times for 83 yards.
Steward finished it off with an impressive 18-yard run as he kept his legs churning and busted some tackles en route to the end zone.
“I was just trying to make sure I got the first down. I wound up shedding some tackles so I kept pushing my legs and made sure I got into the end zone,” said Steward, who scored with 2:43 left.
Cambridge did a nice job filling in for Stevens, gaining 57 second-half yards on 11 carries.
“I just tried to do what anyone would do: step up and work hard,” said Cambridge.
Brewer rallied behind quarterback Chris Miller, who completed six of seven passes for 71 yards on an eight-play drive, including a 45-yard TD hook-up with Dillon Smith with 43.2 seconds left.
But HA recovered the onsides kick to preserve the win.
In the first half, Stevens’ one-yard TD plunge and his 55-yard dash offset an 84-yard TD pass from Chris Miller to Nate Morris, who made a one-handed grab after the ball bounced off a defensive back, to give HA its 13-7 lead in the first half.
Brewer’s Valley led his team with 79 yards on 22 carries and Miller completed 12 of 18 passes for 191 yards.
“They’re a good team,” said Brewer coach Don Farnham. “I really like how we played. In the past, we would have lost by 40 and packed it in. But the guys didn’t quit. They just made more plays than we did. Steward did a nice job. They’re well-coached.”
“We fought really hard. It was a great game,” said Valley, who is a linebacker on defense. “They have quite a few running backs who can (fake) and get outside quick.”