LINCOLN, Maine — The Foxcroft Academy and Mattanawcook Academy football teams had averaged a combined 77.8 points per game through the first seven weeks of the high school football schedule, so a shootout was expected when the teams met in a Class D North regular-season finale at Curry Field on Friday night.
Foxcroft’s defense had another idea.
The Ponies (6-2) limited the Lynx to 97 yards of total offense en route to a 40-0 victory that should land coach Danny White’s club No. 1 seed and a first-round bye in the upcoming LTC playoffs.
“It was a goal to be the No. 1 seed and have the first week of the playoffs off,” said Foxcroft senior quarterback Nick Clawson. “But I don’t think we approached it any differently. It was just another game we wanted to win.”
Mattanawcook (5-3) is likely to finish third in the division behind second-place Bucksport and will host a first-round playoff game here on Oct. 27.
Foxcroft’s defense forced four turnovers, two pass interceptions by Hyatt Smith and a third by R.J. Nelson along with a fumble recovery by Clawson, and the Ponies limited Mattanawcook to minus-1 passing yard.
Senior defensive end Drew Dankert added two quarterback sacks and also tackled MA’s punter for a 4-yard loss that gave Foxcroft possession in Lynx territory.
“We were game planning pretty hard and focusing on stopping the run,” said Nelson, a senior defensive end. “They have a very good option game, and we game-planned for it all week and we stopped it tonight and that was the difference.”
Foxcroft’s offense, by contrast, amassed 435 total yards. Clawson, the Ponies’ senior quarterback, rushed 19 times for 156 yards and three touchdowns and also passed for 79 yards and a score. Junior halfback Michaleb Niles ran for 145 yards and a touchdown on 15 attempts.
“We give them different looks, especially on a play when I fake it to him and take it,” said Clawson. “I’m more of a power back and Michaleb’s more agile and quicker.”
Senior halfback Matthew Young paced the Lynx with 93 yards on 21 carries.
Clawson scored his three rushing touchdowns and the Foxcroft defense held Mattanawcook to 51 total yards before intermission as the Ponies took a 20-0 halftime lead.
Foxcroft drove 61 yards in seven plays with the game’s first possession, with Clawson scoring on a 13-yard run and Levi Stedman adding the extra-point kick as the Ponies took a 7-0 lead less than four minutes into the game.
Mattanawcook then had its best drive of the half, marching from its 27 to the Foxcroft 11 before Nelson stuffed Young for a 2-yard loss on a third-and-5 play. An incompletion by Mattanawcook quarterback Dominic Libbey left the Lynx to turn the ball over on downs.
An exchange of turnovers later in the period — a ball strip and fumble recovery by MA’s Dakota Page followed by an interception by Nelson — was followed one play later by a 46-yard keeper by Clawson on the final play of the first quarter that extended the Foxcroft lead to 14-0.
The Ponies then drove 55 yards in 13 plays to make it 20-0 on a 2-yard run by Clawson with 1:39 left in the opening half. Clawson was the workhorse on that possession, gaining 41 yards on eight carries.
Clawson had 141 rushing yards on 15 attempts at the break while completing 3 of 5 passes for 47 yards as Foxcroft amassed 229 yards.
Young managed 42 yards on eight first-half carries for Mattanawcook.
MA came out running out of the Power I formation to open the second half, and with Young doing the bulk of the work the Lynx advanced the ball from their 46 to the Foxcroft 4 before losing the ball on a fumble that Clawson recovered at the 9.
The Ponies needed just seven plays to score the game-breaking touchdown, with a 59-yard gain by Niles leading to Clawson’s 19-yard touchdown pass to Jeremy Richard that pushed FA’s lead to 26-0 with 3:06 left in the third period.
Niles added a 12-yard scoring run midway through the fourth quarter before Sekton Wandikbo, a junior running back from Indonesia playing his first year of football, capped off the scoring on a 26-yard run in the final minutes.