ORONO – The John Bapst Crusaders brought the LTC’s most prolific passing offense to the artificial surface of Alfond Stadium on Friday night.
But it was no match for Orono’s ground game.
The brothers Mowrer, senior Dominic and sophomore twins Christian and Cameron, combined for 360 rushing yards and five touchdowns as the Red Riots pulled away in the second half to a 46-21 victory over the Crusaders before 1,500 fans at the University of Maine.
Dominic Mowrer added to his conference-leading total of more than 1,000 yards with 152 yards on 15 carries, including scoring runs of 37 and 6 yards. Christian Mowrer added 122 yards and two TDs on 14 tries while Cameron Mowrer rushed for 86 yards and one score.
“It was a lot of fun out here,” said Dominic Mowrer. “The turf was fast, and I knew we were going to be fast on it but I didn’t realize how fast we’d be. They popped us in the chin a few times early in the game, but we realized we had to step up our game and fight for this one.”
The win secures second place in the final conference standings for 7-1 Orono while John Bapst will finish third with its 6-2 record, meaning these teams could meet again in the conference semifinals if they survive next weekend’s quarterfinal games.
“The home field advantage is huge if we get to play them again,” said Orono junior tackle Jack Lucy. “We know they’re going to come out much better the next time we play them so we can’t get complacent, but it will be nice to have the home field.”
Lucy, fellow tackles Tyler Pinkham and Zach Landean and nose guard Mac Seavey were key to a defensive front that sacked John Bapst quarterback Deven Romain five times and pressured the 1,000-yard passer into a 9-of-23 effort with two interceptions in the second half after he completed 7 of 10 attempts for 167 yards in the first quarter alone.
“We started stunting a little bit and getting a lot of pressure on them, which is something we knew we had to do and something other teams in the league hadn’t been able to do this year,” said Lucy. “That made them have to start putting two backs in the backfield, and after that it kind of shut down what they were trying to do.”
Orono led just 16-14 at halftime, but broke this game open with a 24-point third quarter.
The Red Riots drove 73 yards in four plays on their first possession of the second half, with Christian Mowrer running for gains of 19, 9 and 39 yards before Dominic covered the final 6 yards and added the two-point conversion run to give Orono a 24-14 lead.
Christian Mowrer added a 21-yard scoring run later in the period, immediately after Dominic intercepted a pass by Romain into the right flat.
Orono’s Sam Chase made it 40-14 with still 1:15 left in the quarter on a 15-yard interception return to the end zone.
“Getting into the half down just 16-14 and then getting the ball I thought we were in decent shape,” said John Bapst coach Dan O’Connell. “But we didn’t come out after that and match their intensity and we didn’t make some plays on that first drive when we needed to. They smelled blood in the water and came after us.”
Christian Mowrer added a 6-yard TD run in the fourth quarter before John Bapst added its final touchdown on a 27-yard pass from Romain (20 of 43, 294 yards) to Max Andrews.
“Coming into this game it was a big deal for us to get the win, because we wanted to make a statement to the league and let them know that we are one of the best teams in the league,” said Dominic Mowrer.
John Bapst took an early 7-0 lead on an 87-yard pass play from Romain to Andrew Catlin, as Romain spotted Catlin all alone along the right sideline near the Bapst 35 and got rid of the ball just before being sacked, leaving Catlin to outrace the defense to the end zone.
Orono countered with a 73-yard march that concluded when Cameron Mowrer used a stiff-arm to get around the right corner and then raced the final 38 yards for a touchdown with 4:09 left in the opening period. Dominic Mowrer’s two-point conversion run gave Orono an 8-7 lead.
John Bapst answered two minutes later on a 22-yard pass from Romain to Mark Dieuveuil to give the Crusaders a 14-8 edge.
But while John Bapst’s passing fancy would soon subside, Orono’s running game was just getting under way.
Dominic Mowrer put the Red Riots back in front with a 37-yard run on the first play of the second quarter, and Cameron Mowrer’s extra-point run gave Orono a 16-14 edge.