PORTLAND, Maine — The Bonny Eagle of Standish football team is known for a high-powered offense that typically produces plenty of points during its annual quest for state championship gold.
But the Scots used defense as its foundation Saturday night — at least until the offense got untracked — and fought off stubborn Skowhegan 26-6 at frigid Fitzpatrick Stadium to win their second straight Class A state title and fourth in five years.
“It doesn’t get old, I’ll tell you that,” said Bonny Eagle coach Kevin Cooper. “It doesn’t get old.”
Quarterback Nate Doehler rushed for 124 yards and passed for 106 while tailback Josh Ruby added two touchdown runs as Bonny Eagle (10-2) shook off two first-half turnovers to score 20 unanswered points after intermission.
“We just knew we had to keep the ball tight and not lose it anymore,” said Doehler. “We knew we had to do what we’ve been doing all year and we’d be all right.”
The Scots’ defense limited Skowhegan’s run-oriented attack to barely 2 yards per carry, as the Indians finished with just 105 rushing yards on 47 attempts.
Senior Billy Clark, who entered the game with 2,124 rushing yards for the Eastern Maine champs, was the focus of that defensive attention and managed just 64 yards on 25 rushes.
“We knew they were going to run a lot and they’re a real tough team, they stick it out every play,” said Bonny Eagle tackle Josh Spearin, who led a defensive effort that limited Skowhegan to just 50 of their 162 total yards after intermission. “Throughout the week coach emphasized getting to the ball, and we just had to try to outphysical them.”
The Scots had a considerable size advantage up front, one they enhanced by sending additional defenders up to defend against the run.
“They blitzed linebackers all the time,” said Skowhegan running back Cody Vigue. “I think we ran the ball effectively at times in the second half by putting a flanker outside and spreading them out, but I think they just had too many people in the box and blitzed a lot.”
Yet this was no blowout, as had been anticipated given Bonny Eagle’s recent history and the fact Skowhegan was playing in its first state final since 1989.
Skowhegan (10-2) controlled the ball and the clock while battling the heavily favored Scots to a 6-6 halftime tie.
The Indians marched 68 yards in 11 plays to take a 6-0 lead when Vigue scored on a 2-yard run with 10:40 left in the first half. The drive featured Clark’s longest run of 26 yards on a double handoff and a 22-yard pass from Jordan McGowan to Vigue in the left flat to move the ball to the Scots’ 5-yard line.
Bonny Eagle then drove to the Skowhegan 8 before Josh Ruby fumbled and Skowhegan recovered at the 1.
That field position eventually paid off. Bonny Eagle’s defense forced a three-and-out and the Scots regained possession at the Indians’ 40. Ruby scored from 9 yards out seven plays later to tie the game with 3:43 left in the second quarter.
“It was a big concern,” said Spearin of the halftime stalemate. “We got down to the goal line a couple of times but turnovers and penalties had hindered us, but we knew we had a lot more offensive yards so we had to just stick it out.”
Skowhegan held Bonny Eagle without a first down after the second-half kickoff, but Doehler intercepted a McGowan pass intended for Peter Boardman to give the Scots possession near midfield.
A 33-yard pass from Doehler to Ryan Nason quickly moved the ball to the Skowhegan 23, and Doehler followed with a 15-yard keeper before Ruby capped off the 57-yard drive with a 3-yard scoring run to give Bonny Eagle a 13-6 edge with 6:20 left in the third period.
The Scots padded their lead on their next possession, as Doehler hit Nason with a 24-yard touchdown pass with 11:16 left in the game, and later capitalized on a Skowhegan fumble to add their final touchdown when Doehler scored on a 10-yard run with 1:49 remaining.
Mountain Valley 52, Morse 7
Justin Staires racked up 319 total yards and scored four touchdowns as Mountain Valley of Rumford won its third state Class B title in five years and completed a 12-0 season.
Staires opened the scoring with a 17-yard run but J Cavanagh’s 17-yard scamper and Ethan Kingsbury’s extra point gave the Shipbuilders of Bath a short-lived 7-6 lead.
Staires returned the ensuing kickoff 85 yards to give the Falcons a lead they would never relinquish.
He raced 81 yards for his third touchdown to expand the lead to 20-7. He added a 10-yarder in the third period.
Staires finished with 229 rushing yards as Mountain Valley racked up 363 total yards to Morse’s 68.
Matt Laubauskas rushed for 85 yards and two TDs, Nick Taylor returned a kickoff 52 yards for a touchdown and John Gorham scored the other TD and ran for 59 yards.
Morse, playing in its first state title game since 1972, wound up 8-3.