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Familiar football foes match up in LTC semifinals; Belfast visits Waterville in ‘B’ clash

Terry Farren | BDN
Terry Farren | BDN
Bucksport's Josh Gray (32) tries to break free of a tackle from Foxcroft's Ryan Rebar (5) during second-quarter action at Bucksport, Friday Oct. 12 2012.
By Ernie Clark, BDN Staff

While the Pine Tree Conference Class B ranks featured its share of quarterfinal shockers last weekend, it’s the status quo in the LTC Class C, where both scheduled semifinals this weekend are rematches from 2011.

And in Eastern Maine Class A, undefeated Lawrence of Fairfield leads three returning teams as its playoffs begin Saturday, with only an exchange of Rams — Cony of Augusta instead of Bangor — the lone change in that four-team field.

Class C

No. 4 Bucksport Golden Bucks (7-2) at No. 1 Foxcroft Academy Ponies (8-1), 7 p.m. Friday at Dover-Foxcroft: Foxcroft enters the game as the top seed, but Bucksport has defeated the Ponies in each of their last four meetings, including a 21-12 win in last year’s LTC semifinals and a 13-0 victory on Oct. 12 at Carmichael Field in Bucksport.

While Foxcroft cruised to a 65-6 quarterfinal win over No. 8 Mattanawcook Academy of Lincoln, Bucksport needed to watch a late field goal attempt by No. 5 Dexter fall short to ensure its 28-27 quarterfinal win over the stubborn Tigers.

Bucksport features one of the LTC’s most accurate passers in sophomore Matthew Stewart, who connected on 72 of 114 attempts (63.2 percent) for 811 yards, including 33 completions to junior Josh Gray, the conference’s top receiver.

Foxcroft’s offense includes junior quarterback Hunter Law (40 of 69 passing for 777 yards and 10 TDs), senior tailback Don Boyer (115 rushes, 725 yards, 14 TDs) and senior wideout Ryan Rebar (26 catches, 532 yards, nine TDs).

No. 3 Orono Red Riots (7-2) at No. 2 John Bapst Crusaders (8-1), 7 p.m. Friday at Husson University, Bangor: The memory of John Bapst’s 49-18 victory over Orono two weeks ago is fresh in both teams’ memories.

In that game John Bapst quarterback Austin Spencer had a field day against an Orono defense that yielded more passing yards than any other LTC team during the regular season, completing 16 of 25 passes for 268 yards and five touchdowns in that earlier meeting.

Orono will seek to establish its clock-controlling rushing attack, which is led by Norton Revell and Christian Mowrer, a two-time 1,000-yard rusher for the Red Riots.

Orono defeated John Bapst 24-14 in last year’s semifinals.

Class A

No. 4 Messalonskee Eagles (6-3) at No. 1 Lawrence Bulldogs (9-0), 2 p.m. Saturday at Fairfield: These teams are playing for the second straight week, as well as for the second straight year in the PTC semifinals.

It’s been all Lawrence in both scenarios.

Lawrence topped Messalonskee of Oakland 28-13 in the 2011 semifinals en route to winning the Eastern Maine Class A championship, and scored a 21-0 victory over the Eagles last Friday night to secure its sixth undefeated regular season in the last seven years.

The senior-laden Bulldogs have shown great defensive versatility in recent weeks, shutting down pass-happy Cony of Augusta three weeks ago and stifling run-oriented Brunswick and Messalonskee in their last two games while outscoring the three playoff rivals by a combined 82-13.

No. 3 Brunswick Dragons (7-2) vs. No. 2 Cony Rams (7-2), 4 p.m. Saturday at Augusta: This contest matches Brunswick’s running game against Cony’s passing attack.

Brunswick features senior tailback Jared Jensen, who surpassed 2,000 rushing yards during the Dragons’ 48-14 victory over Mount Ararat of Topsham last Friday.

Cony counters with junior quarterback Ben Lucas, who has completed 167 of 293 passes for 2,332 yards with 30 touchdowns this fall. Four of his teammates, led by senior wideout Chandler Shostak, rank among the PTC Class A’s top 10 in pass receptions.

Cony defeated Brunswick 34-7 on Sept. 28, a game in which Brunswick never could get going offensively due to 11 fumbles, four of which resulted in turnovers.

Class B

No. 4 Gardiner Tigers (6-3) at No. 1 Mt. Blue Cougars (9-0), 7 p.m. Friday at Farmington: The two highest-ranked teams left in the PTC B square off in this semifinal, as quarterfinal upsets ousted No. 2 Leavitt of Turner and No. 3 Hampden Academy.

Mt. Blue, coming off its first undefeated regular season since 1986, nearly fell victim to the upset bug last week, outlasting No. 8 Mount Desert Island 14-13 by blocking a two-point conversion pass with less than four minutes remaining and then running out the clock.

That win marked the fewest points the Cougars — averaging 37.2 points per game — have scored in a game this season, but Gardiner held Mt. Blue to its second-lowest offensive output in Week 4 when the Cougars scratched out a 21-16 victory.

Gardiner is led by versatile quarterback/defensive back Dennis Meehan, who passed for one touchdown and returned an interception for another score during last week’s 26-14 quarterfinal win over No. 5 Brewer.

No. 7 Belfast Lions (5-4) at No. 6 Waterville Purple Panthers (5-4), 1 p.m. Saturday: These teams are both sky-high after posting first-round upsets over favored opponents.

Belfast’s win was the most stunning, as coach Chris Bartlett’s club used a last-second touchdown by senior halfback Carl Dodge for a 20-17 victory that avenged a 36-0 regular-season loss to Leavitt, the three-time defending PTC B champion, and advanced the Lions to the semifinals for the second time in three years.

Belfast used offensive balance and opportunistic defense to rally from a 17-8 halftime deficit against the Hornets, with Dodge rushing for 81 yards and two scores and junior quarterback Zach Collier passing for 126 yards.

Waterville used a rushing attack that averaged 6.2 yards per carry to control the tempo en route to its 25-17 quarterfinal win at Hampden. Senior halfback Racean Wood led coach Frank Knight’s club with 186 yards and two touchdowns on 20 carries.

Belfast and Waterville did not meet during the regular season.

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