DEXTER, Maine — At least half of Dexter’s game plan for Saturday afternoon’s Little Ten Conference Class D football battle with John Bapst of Bangor likely couldn’t have been executed better.
The Tigers’ defense yielded just 29 total yards and five first downs to the Crusaders while sacking quarterback Spencer Baron eight times.
And the other half of the game plan? Not perfection, to be sure, but a quick early strike and the improvisational skills of senior quarterback Trevor Fogarty provided Dexter the complementary offense it needed to secure a 21-7 victory at Tiger Field.
“Coming into the season we saw the first two games and knew they were going to be extremely tough,” said Fogarty, whose team rebounded from a 35-19 loss to Bucksport to secure its first win of the season. “Both teams are predicted to finish in the top three or top four but you know what? We came out ready to play and we did our job today.”
That was particularly true on the defensive side where senior linebacker Ethyn Gould led the sack parade with 2½ and sophomore linebacker David McKenney added two sacks. But that duo was among a cast of seven different Tigers who were part of at least one of those loss-producing plays, aided by blanket coverage of the John Bapst receivers.
“The only way we can have the time to get in there is if the secondary is covering the receivers,” said Gould. “They gave us time to get to the quarterback so he couldn’t throw.”
Bryce Salsbury added a fumble recovery and Fogarty had a pass interception for the Tigers while Zachary Caron and Cameron Ross each blocked a John Bapst punt.
“It’s a scheme, it’s not an individual player,” said Dexter coach Kevin Armstrong. “At certain times certain players will shine because of the scheme, but it takes everyone doing their job and that’s what we had today.
“I feel like we’ve got great athletes with all 11 out on the field on defense.”
Dexter’s offense amassed just 190 total yards, but a 38-yard sweep to the end zone by Ross on the Tigers’ first play from scrimmage and Fogarty’s versatility proved too much for John Bapst to overcome.
Ross scored the game’s first touchdown 3:09 into the contest just after a 32-yard punt return by Fogarty set the Tigers up in John Bapst territory.
Dustin Sirabella followed with the first of his three successful extra-point kicks to make it 7-0.
An exchange of punts then gave Dexter possession at its 37, and the Tigers went 63 yards in six plays to extend the lead to 14-0.
Fogarty had the two key moves of the drive, first scrambling away from defensive pressure for a 34-yard gain to the Crusaders’ 8-yard line.
After John Bapst was whistled for offsides, Fogarty faked a handoff to Daytona Gould for a sweep and ran up the middle the final 4 yards to the end zone with 2:04 left in the opening quarter.
John Bapst answered with a touchdown early in the second period just after recovering a misplayed Dexter punt return at the Tigers’ 17-yard line.
Baron induced an offsides infraction against Dexter on fourth-and-4 from the 11, then scored on a keeper up the middle from 6 yards out on the next play.
Patrick Leonard’s extra-point kick cut the gap to 14-7 with 10:58 left in the first half.
Dexter added an insurance touchdown in the third quarter two plays after Ross blocked a Leonard punt and Ethyn Gould recovered the ball at the John Bapst 33.
Fogarty again avoided the Crusaders’ pass rush to scramble 16 yards on the first play, then found junior Matthew Bartlett (three catches, 94 yards) over the middle for a 17-yard scoring strike on the final play of the third quarter.
“Credit to John Bapst for its initial defense, its coverage was awesome,” said Fogarty. “They did a great job containing, and that’s when we made some of our big plays, when the play broke down and receivers kept working back to the ball and finding space. They did a great job of doing that.”
Freshman defensive back Noah Campbell had two pass interceptions for John Bapst.
“In the last three quarters I thought we responded well defensively,” said John Bapst coach Dan O’Connell. “But when you give them two scores right out of the gate like we did you’re going to pay for it.
“Offensively we had some opportunities but we didn’t necessarily take advantage of them. The bottom line is we need to execute better on offense.”