BUCKSPORT, Maine — Bucksport’s 50-36 regular-season victory over Mattanawcook Academy of Lincoln last month ranked as one of the wildest high school football games in the state this year.
But it wasn’t even close to the rematch.
Seniors Carter Tolmasoff and Lucas Wardwell combined for 584 rushing yards and 10 touchdowns Monday night as second-ranked Bucksport made the scoreboard at Carmichael Field look more like the U.S. National Debt Clock as the Golden Bucks defeated No. 3 Mattanawcook 77-36 in their Class D North semifinal.
Unlike the rapidly counting debt clock, these numbers weren’t negative.
“Did we really just put up 77 points?” asked Bucksport junior lineman David Gross. “Seventy-seven points, that’s crazy. Our line just put in the time, and we’ve got running backs who just leave it out there, they just don’t stop running. You can’t not keep them from the end zone.”
The win advances coach Joel Sankey’s Golden Bucks (8-1) to Saturday’s 7 p.m. regional championship game at top-ranked and undefeated Foxcroft Academy (9-0). That game will be a rematch of the 2017 D North final won by Foxcroft 34-0 and of a much closer regular-season meeting this year won by the Ponies 21-20 on Sept. 21.
Mattanawcook ended its season at 7-3.
“I was really nervous about this game,” said Sankey, whose team had not seen game action in 17 days after earning a first-round bye and then having this contest postponed from last Friday due to inclement weather. “They’re a good team and I thought this was going to be another barnburner like the last game was.”
It was, in its own way.
Tolmasoff combined quick cuts and his sprinter’s speed to rush for 380 yards and five touchdowns on 24 carries. His touchdowns alone accounted for 242 yards on runs of 37, 61, 25, 42 and 77 yards.
“We really worked hard over these last two weeks,” said Tolmasoff. “We didn’t care when we played or where we played. We just knew that if we played to even a sliver of our potential that this kind of stuff would happen and I don’t even think we played to our full potential.”
Wardwell, Tolmasoff’s rugged counterweight in the Bucksport backfield, scored on runs of 12, 27, 37, 60 and 6 yards en route to gaining 204 yards on 19 rushing attempts.
He also accounted for Bucksport’s 11th touchdown of the night with a 14-yard pass to tight end Cameron Soper late in the third quarter.
“We have a very good offensive line and they’ve bought into the weight room over the last two years,” said Sankey. “They’re very strong, and in some of the offensive sets it’s just old-fashioned football and we just line up and come at you.”
Despite the prolific offense, Bucksport had some difficulty putting Mattanawcook away because the Lynx were not without offensive playmakers of their own, particularly senior quarterback and wideout Alex Brown.
Brown rushed for 114 yards, including a 56-yard touchdown sprint. He also had two receptions for 107 yards and completed a 7-yard touchdown pass to Thomas Ireland.
Other Mattanawcook scores came on a 6-yard run by Diondre Duffy, a 28-yard pass from Kris Milner to Brayden Lujan, a 65-yard kickoff return by Jameson Peters and a 30-yard run by Lujan.
Tolmasoff’s touchdown runs of 37 and 61 yards on Bucksport’s first two possessions helped give the Golden Bucks a 16-0 lead at the end of the opening quarter. Soper contributed the other two points of the period defensively as he tackled Mattanawcook’s punter in the end zone for a safety.
But the offensive fireworks were just getting started. Bucksport outscored MA 32-30 in the second period and by halftime the two teams already were threatening their regular-season totals with the Golden Bucks holding a 48-30 lead.
After the Bucksport defense held Mattanawcook without a first down to open the second half, the offense mounted a 12-play, 72-yard march that consumed nearly seven minutes before until Wardwell’s touchdown pass over the middle to Soper.
Tolmasoff’s two-point conversion run made it 56-30, and Bucksport went on to score on all four of its second-half possessions.
“I knew after the first half that they were having a tough time stopping us,” said Sankey, “and I’ve told all the teams I’ve coached that the first five minutes of the second half are the most important.
“We knew we were kicking to them, so if we could get a three-and-out and get the ball back and go down and score it would make a heck of a difference and we did. That made a huge difference.”