PORTLAND, Maine — Senior linebacker Brad Jackson recovered a fumble with less than two minutes to play and Mt. Blue of Farmington ran out the clock to edge Marshwood of South Berwick 44-42 for the Class B state football championship Saturday night at Fitzpatrick Stadium.
Both teams’ offenses marched up and down the field, and the lone punt of the game gave Marshwood the ball one more time on its own 7-yard line with 1:50 left to play.
“Our life was flashing before our eyes,” said Chad Luker, Mt. Blue’s senior running back and linebacker. “We knew we had to stop them on that last big defensive drive. We forced the fumble and got on it.”
Cam Roll, Marshwood’s junior quarterback, was hoping that last drive would be the one to turn the game around for the Hawks.
“There were a couple fourth downs, big ones they made, and they’d score, then we’d come back and then we’d score,” said Roll, “but we’d [stop] their two-point conversion, and just knowing that we could actually make it, we weren’t that far behind every time that we scored, kept us going.
“And to have the ball turn over, we went from so high to so low, it kinda sucked.”
Luker was a key factor in the Cougars staying ahead of the Hawks as he ran for a personal-high five touchdowns over the first three quarters. The longest TD for Luker, one of the Mt. Blue workhorses, was his first at 4 yards, but they were all important.
“We do this elephant formation where coach gives me the ball in short-yardage situations and I’m just thankful I get all the glory for the touchdowns,” said Luker. “I’m two yards to go on the goal line, he gives the ball for powerhouse football and [we] score those touchdowns.”
His first three helped Eastern Maine champion Mt. Blue (12-0) jump out to a 26-15 lead midway through the second quarter and the closest the WM titlist Hawks (10-2) were able to get after that was the final two-point margin with 4:04 remaining.
Mt. Blue was forced to punt after eating up more than two minutes off the clock, and Marshwood took over on its own 7 with 1:50 remaining.
But the Cougars forced the fumble on first down and Jackson fell on it at the 10. With 1:44 remaining, the Cougars were able to run out the clock, although there was some doubt.
Mt. Blue head coach Gary Parlin checked with one of his assistants to make sure.
“‘You sure we don’t have to run a play and get a first down?’” Parlin said he asked. “He said, ‘No, we don’t.’”
Parlin said the Cougars sought to follow their usual game plan Saturday.
“We have this year outscored our opponents something like 180-24 in the first period,” said Parlin. “We’ve had some great starts to games and some letdowns in the second quarter, but our plan was to come out fast like we always do.”
After Mt. Blue took a 6-0 lead with 7:49 left in the opening quarter, Marshwood jumped ahead 8-6 just 47 seconds later on Roll’s 33-yard TD pass to Beau Blanchette and Dan Lizotte’s rush for the two-point conversion.
It was a short-lived lead for the Hawks.
Mt. Blue regained the lead for good on the ensuing kickoff when Calen Lucas returned it 85 yards for the TD and Jordan Whitney’s two-point rush put Mt. Blue back in front for good at 14-8.
“Calen Lucas is lightning in a bottle,” said Parlin. “He’s been hurt for three years of football, and this is finally his time and he’s just awesome.”
Luker added his second touchdown, a 1-yard run, four minutes later, but Roll countered with a 14-yard TD pass two plays into the second quarter. A Hockney PAT kick made it 20-15.
Luker scored from 2 yards with 6:08 to go in the half, and Roll ran 4 yards for a TD with 2:50 to go to complete the first-half scoring.
The two teams picked up where they left off with Luker getting his fourth TD 3:17 into the second half, followed by Marshwood sophomore RB Brett Gerry’s first TD, a 1-yarder with 4:25 left in the third, and Luker posted his final score from a yard with 2:05 in the third.
Daren Lizotte’s 3-yard TD early in the fourth and his two-point rush cut the Cougars’ lead to 38-35.
Senior tight end Zak Kendall caught a 20-yard TD pass for Mt. Blue that turned out to be the insurance Mt. Blue needed.
“I saw the ball in the air, grabbed the ball and looked down, two feet planted,” said Kendall. “It was the greatest feeling in the world, thinking that I scored that touchdown. It felt amazing.”
But it was close to being no good.
“I didn’t think I was out of room, but I didn’t realize how close I was actually,” said Kendall. “I looked, there was about six inches. I was like, whew, that’s too close, that’s too close.”
The Cougars were up 44-35, but there was still 6:18 left on the clock.
Roll returned the kickoff to the Mt. Blue 33 and added an 18-yard run to the MB 14.
Two plays later, Gerry pushed ahead for 4 yards, then finished the series with a 10-yarder, his second TD run of the game. Justin Hockney kicked the PAT to cut it to 44-42.
That set up the final four minutes.
“If you wish you could do something else, or if you might make [a play] or a step sooner, you know, get that touchdown or juke better, [it’ll] definitely keep you guessing,” said Roll.
“I thought we’d play a little bit better on defense than we did, but hey, at this point, win by one or win by 100, it’s all the same — to bring one of these babies home,” Parlin said as he tapped the gold ball.
Correction: An earlier version of this article misstated the name of the Mt. Blue coach. His name is Gary Parlin, not Poulin.