BUCKSPORT, Maine — The Bucksport football team finished off an undefeated regular season the hard way Friday night — defeating an unbeaten opponent for the second straight week.
Jack Cyr rushed for 97 yards and two touchdowns on 20 carries as the Golden Bucks parlayed early offense and constant defense into a 23-6 victory over Mattanawcook Academy of Lincoln in a Little Ten Conference football battle at Carmichael Field.
The win came just a week after coach Joel Sankey’s club scored a 42-35 win at Maine Central Institute of Pittsfield in a Week 7 battle of unbeaten teams.
“It’s been two really tough weeks in a row with MCI and Lincoln,” said Sankey. “Both are good football teams.”
Bucksport (8-0) now will have a first-round bye when postseason play begins next weekend and have home-field advantage throughout the LTC playoffs.
“They knew what was at stake, home field advantage for the rest of the playoffs,” said Sankey. “The kids love playing here, there’s a good atmosphere and a great crowd, but they knew it was going to be tough to do, especially with these last two games coming the way they did.
“It’s been a tough year for them with the things that have happened, but they’ve risen to the occasion and overcome a lot of obstacles. I’m very, very proud of them.”
Mattanawcook will be either the second or third seed, depending on the outcome of a coin flip with MCI on Saturday morning. Both MA and MCI finished 7-1 while playing identical schedules but not facing each other during the regular season.
MCI outlasted Dexter 43-29 on Friday night.
Cyr scored on runs of 2 and 13 yards as the Golden Bucks built a 23-0 first-half lead, and from there it was left to a defense led by KP Hilaire and Nic Bishop to limit a Mattanawcook team that had scored 50 points during a double-overtime win over Dexter a week ago to just a single touchdown.
Fullback Gabe Stearns added 77 yards on just three carries as well as a 56-yard interception return that set up a Bucksport score.
Senior quarterback Trysten Pelkey paced Mattanawcook with a game-high 114 yards and a touchdown on 17 carries. Sophomore Scott Jipson added 71 yards on 12 carries.
Bucksport finished with a 248-234 edge in total yardage.
Bucksport used big plays on both offense and defense to build its 23-6 halftime lead,
The Bucks threatened with their first possession of the game before a fumble by Gray inside the 10-yard line was recovered by MA’s Gunner Maxwell.
But Bucksport’s defense capitalized on the field position moments later, as defensive pressure by Lucas Ashmore and Tyler Maguire forced Pelkey into an intentional grounding penalty from the end zone, resulting in a safety that gave the Golden Bucks a 2-0 lead four minutes into the game.
A short MA punt set Bucksport up offensively at the Lynx 42 later in the first period, and a 40-yard first-down run by Stearns was followed by a 2-yard touchdown run by Cyr to extend the lead to 9-0 with 4:26 left in the opening period.
Two plays after the Bucks’ defense forced MA into a three-and-out offensive series, junior quarterback Matthew Stewart found Ashmore open over the middle for a 77-yard touchdown pass, and suddenly the margin was 16-0 with still 1:27 left in the quarter.
“They took (wide receiver) Josh Gray away, but we were able to come back and use a couple of formations that we hadn’t shown much all year and hit the tight end and used the fullback, which I thought was a key,” said Sankey.
Mattanawcook then switched from its power-I formation to the shotgun and began moving the football.
The Lynx drove inside Bucksport territory on their next possession before Stearns stepped in front of a Pelkey pass to the right sideline and returned the interception to the MA 16.
One play later, Cyr scored on a 13-yard run to give Bucksport a 23-0 lead with still 8:53 left until intermission.
Mattanawcook finally got on the scoreboard on a 13-yard touchdown run by Pelkey with 6:46 left in the first half. That run, in which he faked a handoff to Jipson before running up the middle to the end zone, capped off a 76-yard, six-play march that featured runs of 18 and 20 yards by Jipson.