HAMPDEN, Maine — The Hampden Academy Broncos football team took advantage of five Belfast turnovers en route to a 42-14 victory on Friday night.
The Broncos (3-1) were paced by senior running back Logan Steward who had 13 carries for 96 yards and two touchdowns as they outscored Belfast (1-3) 26-0 in a dominant second half.
“We went back to our gameplan, pounded the rock, and wore them down. Our offensive line was great in the second half,” said Steward.
It took two quarters for Hampden to separate themselves from a gritty Belfast team, who besides three first-half interceptions, played well in the first half.
After the teams exchanged turnovers on opening drives, Belfast started to get in a rhythm using the triple option to incorporate multiple running backs and keep Hampden off balance.
At the Hampden 38-yard line, junior quarterback Zach Collier faked the handoff before rolling right and finding junior Tyler Tran on a backside post to give the Lions a 6-0 lead with just over six minutes to play in the first quarter.
Collier went 7-for-12 for 129 yards with a touchdown and three interceptions in the first half, but only completed 1 of 8 passes in the second half and added another interception.
“They did a heck of a job, and it was a tough game. A few breaks here and there changed it around,” said Hampden head coach Harry McCluskey.
Hampden would answer quickly.
Two minutes later Steward lined up as the wingback on the left side and sprinted down the line receiving the handoff and running off the right tackle, giving his offensive guards time to pull around and kick out the Belfast defensive ends as he scampered 43 yards for the score. This would be a play Hampden would run multiple times with great success.
“We [seniors] are the leaders of this team and we just keep telling them up front to stay on their blocks and the play is going to be there,” said Steward.
Hampden would score again on fourth down after senior tailback Nick Jesiolowski emerged from the pile on an 11-yard score. After converting its second two-point conversion, Hampden lead 16-6 with three minutes remaining in the half. Jesiolowski would finish with eight carries for 52 yards.
Then Belfast made things exciting.
After Hampden turned the ball over on downs at the 50-yard line with 50 seconds remaining, Belfast went to the air to get back into the game.
Collier threw a perfect 45-yard strike to senior running back Carl Dodge to put the Lions in position to score. Collier would finish the drive with a quarterback sneak, giving the Lions momentum as they went into halftime down only 16-14.
The second half would be a different story.
Hampden received the kickoff and marched the ball down the field before junior quarterback Matt Marvin scored on a quarterback keeper from three yards out to give Hampden the 22-14 lead. Marvin proved to be more dangerous on the ground for the Broncos as he rushed for 45 yards on nine carries.
“The kids felt bad about some of the mistakes in the first half, sucked it up, and went after it in the second half,” said McCluskey.
The next play from scrimmage Belfast fumbled the ball on their own 45-yard line, setting Hampden up for another score and ultimately deflating the Lions players.
Hampden would put the game out of reach with just over 11 minutes to play as Martin hit his favorite receiver, senior Nick Rodgerson, on a slant that would go for an 86-yard score on a third and long. Martin finished the game 3-of-8 with 109 yards, a touchdown, and an interception.
“It was a three-step slant to get behind the backers and get open,” said Rodgerson who finished with 100 yards receiving.
Hampden would add one more touchdown in the final minute for the 42-14 win.
Junior Devan Richards lead Belfast with 85 yards on 11 carries.