BANGOR, Maine — Austin Spencer passed for 177 yards and two touchdowns and Nick Jordan played a starring role on defense as John Bapst pulled away to a 40-0 homecoming victory over Washington Academy of East Machias in an LTC football clash at Cameron Stadium on Saturday night.
Brad DeCesere and Andrew Catlin each scored twice for John Bapst, now 3-0. WA dips to 0-3.
John Bapst led just 7-0 at halftime, but a 65-yard touchdown pass from Spencer to Catlin just 59 seconds into the third quarter gave the Crusaders a quick dose of momentum en route to a run of 33 unanswered points after intermission.
“I tried to tell our kids that we can’t just show up and expect to win and go through the motions and hope it happens,” said John Bapst coach Dan O’Connell. “We’ve got to come out and impose our will and make plays because that’s what we do and take advantage of all of our options and play hard.
“I’m not sure this was an effort issue more than it was a celebratory homecoming fiesta-type hangover. Things have been going pretty well for us, but it was good to get a punch in the mouth, so to speak, and have to respond. I think the way the kids played showed that we’ve learned our lesson.”
WA senior defensive tackle Nick Burrill stuffed a John Bapst counter run by DeCesere for a 2-yard loss to the Crusaders’ 35 on the first play from scrimmage in the third quarter before Spencer went to the air.
The junior quarterback found Catlin over the middle in stride with a pass at the WA 40, then Catlin cut back to his left before racing down the sideline to the end zone.
“I just saw that the linebacker was far away from me,” said Catlin, “so we called a seam route and I ran right up the middle. Austin Spencer threw a perfect pass and I made a couple of guys miss and ran in for the touchdown.”
A 29-yard punt return by Jake Moore set up a 43-yard scoring run by DeCesere on John Bapst’s next possession. Another 29-yard punt return, this time by Spencer, led to a 14-yard scoring pass from Spencer to Catlin that gave the Crusaders a 27-0 lead with 3:38 left in the third period.
John Bapst added a pair of fourth-quarter touchdowns on a 10-yard run by Shawn Curran and a 25-yard pass from freshman Spencer Barron to Austin Cyr.
“We know the talent we have on this team, and at halftime it was 7-0 but we knew what we had to do to get it done,” said Catlin, a senior who had three catches for 100 yards and also gained 36 yards on the ground. “Our coaches talk about overcoming adversity and this was the first real test we’ve had in three games at halftime, and I thought we came out and responded real well.”
Jordan had two quarterback sacks and a host of other tackles for a John Bapst defense that yielded 165 total yards but did not allow Washington Academy inside the Crusaders’ 45-yard line — thanks also to booming kickoffs by Patrick Leonard that pinned the Raiders’ deep in their own territory.
“We just can’t take anything for granted, and we learned that,” said Jordan, a junior middle linebacker. “In the locker room [at halftime] we got together and said we had to get it done, and in the second half we came out and got it done.”
Spencer completed 9 of 17 passes, while DeCesere rushed for 66 yards as John Bapst amassed 361 yards of total offense.
Yardage didn’t come easily for the Crusaders early in the contest, as a WA defense led by Burrill and senior end Tehon Fox gave up yardage grudgingly in the first half and twice stopped John Bapst inside the Raiders’ 20.
Finally an exchange of pass interceptions, the first by WA’s Ellic Smith and the second by Moore, gave John Bapst the ball at the Raiders’ 13 with 4:01 left in the half. Two plays later DeCesere scored from 5 yards out on a counter play and Leonard followed with the extra-point kick to give the Crusaders a 7-0 lead.
“We were pleased with the first half,” said WA coach Barry Terrill. “I thought we gave them everything they wanted and then some. Physically we tackled well and hit well, but we threw an interception and gave them a short field right before the half and they punched it in.
“I think at halftime they realized they had to pick it up a bit, and they came out and pulled away from us down the stretch.”
Smith rushed for 61 yards on 12 carries for WA while junior quarterback Fred MacLean completed 5 of 12 passes for 77 yards, with all of the completions going to senior tight end Andrew Farnsworth.