SOUTH PARIS — Bangor tailback Logan Lanham wasn’t himself during last week’s loss to Cheverus, so the coaches decided they needed to push their work horse during practice this week to get him back into form for the regular season finale at Oxford Hills.
The senior responded well to extra work all week on Friday night, carrying the ball 44 times for 245 yards and all four Bangor touchdowns in a 27-6 win.
Lanham’s workload equaled four different Oxford Hills ball-carriers, but he showed he could have handled even more by taking his final rush 44 yards, his longest run of the night, for his final touchdown with 2:08 remaining.
Lanham seemed to almost prefer that there were no end zones.
“The good news is, when you keep running the clock for five yards a carry, it keeps the clock moving as well as the chains. We like to have the ball for as long as possible,” said Lanham, who had four runs of 11 yards or more. Three of those came in the fourth quarter, including touchdown runs of 44 and 19 yards.
“He just didn’t look sharp (last week),” Bangor coach Mark Hackett said. “He looked fresh tonight. I think he’s a cold-weather guy.”
For the Vikings, the game was a microcosm of their season — a promising start, then a lot of wheel-spinning with some self-inflicted pain (two key fumbles) mixed in.
“We were consistently inconsistent,” Oxford Hills coach Mark Soehren said. “I don’t mean that negative. We were just a young team. Even our seniors hadn’t started much, hadn’t played much. We play hard every down. Sometimes we just make some mistakes.”
Oxford Hills started the game with a 10-play, 83-yard drive, alternating the option between fullback Malik Geiger (19 carries, 67 yards) and QB Brady LaFrance (10 carries, 96 yards). On his last keeper, LaFrance found a seam on the left side and raced 31 yards to a 6-0 lead.
The Vikings tallied 125 yards in the first quarter, 115 the next three after Bangor made some adjustments.
“After that first drive, we put in an extra linebacker,” senior defensive tackle/guard Brandon Moore said. “We moved me and our nose guard, Langston Hamer-Nagle, in both ‘A’ gaps. We had another athletic tackler in there and that just seemed to work for us.”
“Last year, they beat us because our kids couldn’t force themselves to play their assignments. This year, we kind of started like that,” Hackett said. “Even though we practiced, it’s not the same because they’re so damned good at it. We took a couple of kids out, blasted them a little bit, put them back in, and they did just enough. You have to play team football, and when we did, good things happened for us.”
Good things started happening for the Rams offensively on their second possession when Lanham converted a 4th-and-3 at the Viking 18. Five plays later, he punched it in from two yards out to tie the game.
Tony Taylor’s 34-yard return on the ensuing kickoff set up the Vikings at Bangor’s 46, but a LaFrance fumbled after a punishing hit and Bangor recovered at midfield. The Rams ran the ball on all nine plays en route to the lead on Lanham’s four-yard run with 1:38 left in the half.
Bangor chewed more than nine minutes off the clock to start the second half, but the drive stalled after Davis Turner sacked Xavier Lewis for a six-yard loss on 3rd-and-7 at the Viking 14.
The Rams extended the Vikings’ ensuing possession with a roughing the punter penalty that allowed them to start another possible game-tying series at midfield. But on the next play, Jordan Ayer and Evan McAuliffe jarred the ball loose from Ethan Child and Adam Allen recovered at Bangor’s 40.
“That was huge,” Hackett said. They’re methodical like we are. We don’t put up a lot of points and they don’t either, so if you have a change of possession, it’s huge because you’re not going to get the ball back.”
The Vikings’ had a two-touchdown deficit to deal with when it did get the ball back. Lewis’ 11-yard completion to Nick Ashey on 3rd-and-5 kept the drive alive for Lanham’s 19-yard touchdown run behind the right side of the line with 6:38 left.
Bangor clinched the No. 4 seed in the playoffs and will host No. 5 Lewiston at 1 p.m. next Saturday.
“Like Coach said, everyone’s even now. It’s not up to record anymore. It’s playoffs,” Lanham said. “We’ve got to take each team one at a time. We’re going to win the game with the start of practice Monday.”