BANGOR — This time, the victory was not gift-wrapped.
Brunswick didn’t turn the ball over six times Friday night like it did in its one-point, season-opening loss to Bangor two months ago, but this time the Rams didn’t need the help.
Cody Chapman ran the opening kickoff back 87 yards for a touchdown, and from there Bangor rolled to a 42-14 victory over Brunswick in their Pine Tree Conference Class A football semifinal at Cameron Stadium.
“We knew it was going to be a physical game and it was,” said Bangor senior tight end/linebacker Ellis Throckmorton. “But this is our house and they can’t come in here and push us around. We showed what we had, and we showed how much we’ve improved since the last time we played them.”
The win sends the second-seeded and two-time defending Eastern Maine champions (8-2) back to the regional final next Friday night at top-ranked Lawrence of Fairfield, which improved to 10-0 with its 28-13 semifinal victory over Messalonskee of Oakland.
“There’s something special about this team,” said Bangor coach Mark Hackett. “I don’t know how we’ll do next week, but for them to play the way they’ve played and to get to where they are, I wouldn’t want to be playing them.”
Chapman also contributed two rushing touchdowns while Zeb Tuell added 147 rushing yards and two touchdowns of his own as Bangor scored twice in each of the first three periods to leave most of the fourth quarter for the reserves.
“We wanted to prove a point,” said Chapman. “We’ve improved a lot since the first game. They had, too, so we knew we had to come out and play. We were on our ‘A’ game tonight and that’s why we were so successful.”
Chapman, a junior fullback and linebacker, set the tone for the evening in the game’s first 15 seconds as he gathered the opening kickoff on the left side of the field at the Bangor 13, then went up the middle, breaking a single tackle at the 35 before sprinting down the left sideline to give the Rams a sudden lead.
“Everyone blocked to perfection and I really didn’t have to do much,” said Chapman. “I saw green grass and all I had to do was run. It was a great team effort on that play and all through the game.”
Third-seeded Brunswick (7-3) then committed its lone turnover of the night, as Throckmorton stipped Jason Carter of the ball on a quarterback keeper and the Rams recovered at the Dragons’ 32.
Six plays later, Bangor quarterback Carl Farnham found Throckmorton over the middle with a 27-yard touchdown pass to give Bangor a 14-0 lead less than five minutes into the game.
“It was the same play as last week,” said Throckmorton, referring to a TD pass he scored in Bangor’s 29-8 victory over Skowhegan in its regular-season finale. “It felt like instant replay right after I caught it, that’s what I was thinking.”
Brunswick answered with its lone big play of the night, a 68-yard touchdown run by junior Jarod Jensen (eight carries, 109 yards) that cut the gap to 14-7 midway through the first period, but Bangor’s defense stiffened and limited the Dragons to 25 total yards for the rest of the half.
“We had in our mind to come out and show everybody who we really are,” said Bangor senior tackle Aaron Huntington. “The line’s really come together as a team, by doing what we did tonight, driving forward and doing our assignments.”
Bangor’s lead was 28-7 at intermission, as Tuell raced up the middle for a 68-yard touchdown run early in the second quarter and Chapman added a 5-yard scoring run with 2:33 left in the half.
Brunswick’s first possession of the second half ended when Bangor defensive back Wyatt Frost stuck Dylan Walton for a 3-yard loss on fourth-and-6 from the Rams’ 40. Then Bangor marched 57 yards in nine plays with Chapman scoring from the 6 to extend the margin to blowout proportions, 35-7 with 5:30 left in the third quarter.
Bangor’s final touchdown came four minutes later when Tuell caught a Farnham screen pass off his shoe tips in the right flat, then used two key cuts to traverse 50 yards to the end zone.
Brunswick’s final touchdown came on an 11-yard run by Walton with 3:39 left in the game.