May 28, 2018
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Early turnovers doom Bangor football team as Cheverus rolls to victory

By Ernie Clark, BDN Staff

BANGOR, Maine — The Bangor High School football team knew it needed a near-perfect performance to upset an opponent that had won 40 of its previous 41 games.

But when near-perfection wasn’t forthcoming, neither was the upset.

Undefeated Cheverus of Portland converted three Bangor turnovers into a 21-0 lead less than nine minutes into their Eastern Maine Class A matchup at Cameron Stadium on Saturday, then cruised the rest of the way to a 49-7 victory.

“You’re not going to beat the best team doing that,” said Bangor coach Mark Hackett. “We did a few things pretty well, but they’re the best. They crushed us like they’ve crushed everybody else.”

A bad pitch, a fumbled kickoff return and a pass interception all were turned into early offense by the 7-0 Stags, who entered the contest averaging 52.7 points per game this fall.

And when Cheverus needed to sustain its offense, it converted seven of its nine third-down situations into first downs while grinding out 427 yards overall and never needing to punt.

So much for the concern about the rare 130-mile journey north for a team whose typical longest road trip requires little more than an hour bus ride.

“It took a while to get going with the long travel,” said Cheverus senior fullback and linebacker Cody O’Brien, “but we finally got our heads together and played well in the second half.”

And so much for the fear of a letdown after an emotional 46-7 win over Thornton Academy last weekend when Cheverus avenged a loss to the Trojans in last year’s Western Maine final.

“It could have been a trap-game situation, but our kids are pretty mature and I thought they prepared well,” said Cheverus coach John Wolfgram. “There’s no question it’s hard to come back after a big win like that, but every game is important to us and Bangor’s a quality football team.”

Junior halfback Joe Fitzpatrick, who began the day with an Eastern A-leading 1,156 rushing yards — patiently followed his blockers to add 146 yards to that total on 22 carries. Teammate Liam LaFountain added 74 yards on just five tries — including touchdown runs of 9, 12 and 55 yards.

Bangor, meanwhile, had its running game held in check, managing just 89 yards on 37 attempts.

“We knew it was going to be a power run game and we had to stop that,” said O’Brien. “They play big and physical and they’re a good team so we had to play physical against them.”

Cheverus’ Riley Archer recovered an errant Bangor pitch at the Rams’ 20 barely a minute into the contest. Four plays later LaFountain went wide right the final 9 yards to the end zone, with the first of Patrick Mourmouras’ seven extra-point kicks giving the Stags a 7-0 lead 3:30 into the opening quarter.

Bangor (3-4) fumbled the ensuing kickoff, with Matt Drouin recovering the bouncing ball in the end zone for Cheverus’ second touchdown in 11 seconds.

The Stags’ Kenny Drelich secured the first of his two pass interceptions of the game on Bangor’s next possession, setting up Cheverus to march 33 yards to extend its lead to 21-0 when LaFountain scored on a 12-yard run with still 3:18 left in the period.

Cheverus drove 95 yards in 10 plays early in the second quarter, with a 49-yard pass from Ethan Jordan to Noah Stebbins setting up a 1-yard scoring drive by O’Brien to make it 28-0 with 7:32 left in the first half.

Bangor finally countered with an 80-yard march that came mostly through the air, as Xavier Lewis passed to Ozzie Degnan for a 28-yard gain to the Cheverus 32, then found Jake Fournier open in the right flat, with Fournier breaking two tackles as he cut back across the field en route to a 30-yard scoring play with 2:29 remaining before intermission.

Bangor then stopped Cheverus on downs to potentially maintain that momentum heading into the break, but the Stags drove 62 yards after taking the second-half kickoff to re-establish command at 35-7 on a second 1-yard scoring run by O’Brien.

LaFountain added his longest touchdown run late in the third quarter, and Jacob Schott scored from 4 yards out midway through the final period.

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