LEWISTON — Lawrence came out a little flat for Friday night’s Pine Tree Conference tilt with Lewiston, but the unbeaten Bulldogs’ flat is full-speed to a lot of other teams.
Lawrence finally shook off the fired-up Blue Devils in the second half for a 48-20 victory thanks to three touchdown runs by Josh Doolan and 182 yards rushing and a TD from Anthony Sementelli.
“We were emotionally a little flat,” Lawrence coach John Hersom said. “We had to overcome a couple of injuries during the week with two starters out. Not to make those kind of excuses, because it’s not an excuse, but we were a little bit emotionally flat and I think they learned a lesson by the way that we played.”
Lewiston, meanwhile, played inspired football after a difficult week that included a health scare for coach Bill County, who missed practice on Monday and Tuesday due to a transient ischemic attack. County returned to practice Wednesday and said he felt good after Friday night’s game.
“You don’t want to get beat by 28 and be happy, but I felt like our kids didn’t submit to the adversity,” County said. “They had a rough week, obviously. A number of things happened this week and rising above adversity was kind of the theme of the day today.”
“I think we played real well,” senior fullback/linebacker Colton Bernier said. “Lawrence is a good team, but we battled some adversity and played real well.”
Most of the Blue Devils’ adversity early in the game was self-inflicted: i.e. two early fumbles that gave Lawrence (6-0) a short field on two of its four first quarter possessions.
Xavier Lewis recovered the first fumble at Lewiston’s 31 on the first play of the game. Three plays later, Beau Grenier scored from 28 yards out and a quick 7-0 Lawrence lead.
After a couple of Lewiston penalties forced the Devils to punt, Lawrence took over again deep in Devil territory, the 34. Lewiston’s defense held this time, though, and two plays after the Bulldogs’ punted, Bernier raced 78 yards for the tying score.
“It felt pretty good. There was a good-sized hole there and I just went with it,” Bernier said.
Lewiston (1-5) nearly pulled off another defensive stop on Lawrence’s ensuing possession. But on 4th-and-12, Jake Doolan took a counter play 32 yards to the end zone to put the Bulldogs in front for good.
Josh Doolan added to the lead with his first touchdown, a 21-yard run early in the second quarter.
But the Blue Devils wouldn’t go away. Quintarian Brown (13 carries, 118 yards) returned the ensuing kickoff 85 yards for a touchdown to pull them back within 20-14. It was Lewiston’s sixth return for a touchdown this season.
“We’re pretty good at that kick return thing. It kind of gets us back in the game,” County said. “I think we put three offensive drives together after that of 60 or 70 yards. A couple of them didn’t get into the end zone, unfortunately, but it took a lot of time off the clock and gave the kids some confidence.”
Lawrence was able to capitalize on its final scoring opportunity of the first half, a six-play, 54-yard drive capped by Josh Doolan’s second TD run from 11 yards out.
“He’s a very determined player,” Hersom said of Doolan. “He’s been in our backfield for the last couple of seasons, so he’s pretty experienced and knows how to get into the end zone.”
The Bulldogs (475 yards rushing) began to pull away in the second half on Josh Doolan’s third TD, a 45-yard run 2:16 into the third quarter. Sementelli added a seven-yard scoring run and Ethan Powers a four-yard TD run. Stone Colby accounted for Lewiston’s final score with a seven-yard run.
Lawrence senior tight end/defensive back Robbie Liberty had to be taken away via ambulance during the second quarter after experiencing breathing problems, according to Hersom. There was no further word on his condition.
County and Lobster Bowl coaches throughout the state were wearing their Lobster Bowl caps Friday night in support of Troy Pappas, a Bates College freshman and Lobster Bowl alumnus from Eliot who died Friday after a fall in a stairwell last Saturday.
“All 10 of the Lobster Bowl coaches are wearing them this weekend in support of Troy,” County said. “All of our thoughts and prayers are with him and his family.”