BANGOR, Maine — Just eight seniors strong, the No. 8 Mt. Blue of Farmington football team was just excitable enough to believe it could put a Halloween-worthy scare into top-ranked Bangor during their Eastern Maine Class A football quarterfinal at Cameron Stadium on Friday night.
And the fact that the teams were locked in a 14-14 stalemate entering the fourth quarter suggests the upset-minded Cougars were quite successful in that effort.
But Bangor is undefeated in great part because of its big-play capability, and the Rams used big plays on both sides of the line of scrimmage to outlast the youthful Cougars 28-14.
“You just have to trust your teammates and work together as a team,” said Bangor quarterback-safety Joe Seccareccia, who rushed for a touchdown and had two of the Rams’ four pass interceptions. “It’s been a great run for us so far this year, and we’re just going to keep coming out on Friday nights ready to go.”
Next Friday night’s semifinal foe will be No. 4 Messalonskee of Oakland, a 14-6 winner over No. 5 Lewiston in its quarterfinal. Bangor edged Messalonskee 13-12 at Oakland in Week 4 of the regular season.
Lonnie Hackett led the Rams past Mt. Blue, rushing for 259 yards and three touchdowns, including scoring runs of 61 and 64 yards.
“We went into the game knowing we needed to limit their long plays,” said Mt. Blue coach Gary Parlin. “The last time we played them [a 44-26 regular-season win by Bangor] he had three long plays, and tonight he had two long plays and those were the difference.”
Ethan Vance added an interception and a fumble recovery and Nate Lewis also had an interception as Bangor won the turnover battle 5-0.
“I honestly believe if we don’t turn the ball over tonight that we win this game,” said Parlin, but in the playoffs you can’t turn it over.”
Bangor (9-0) took the lead for good at 20-14 with a 13-play, 61-yard drive that ended with Seccareccia scoring on a 4-yard bootleg on fourth-and-goal with 9:58 left in the fourth quarter.
Seccareccia followed moments later with the defensive play of the game.
Mt. Blue faced third-and-1 from its 43, and when quarterback Ryan Backus opted to keep the ball, it looked like he had a lane to surge ahead for the first down. But when he didn’t make that move, Seccareccia was waiting to level Backus for a 2-yard loss.
“It was a play that was meant to go outside,” said Parlin, “and Ryan actually saw the hole but he saw it late. [Seccareccia], if he’s not a Division I defensive back, I don’t know who is. We’ve seen him five times on film this year, and he’s like that play after play after play.”
The Cougars had to punt, and Hackett soon put the game away.
“I knew [Backus] was going to roll out, because we broke that down on film and saw that he likes to keep it on the goal line and on third-and-short,” said Seccareccia. “I came up and pressed and saw him roll out so I just attacked him as quick as I could.”
Hackett capped off an 82-yard march with his 64-yard run off left tackle. Senior guard Ben Rapaport provided the lead block, then Hackett escaped a tackle at the Mt. Blue 35 en route to giving Bangor a two-touchdown lead with 4:15 left.
“It was third-and-3 so the first priority was to get the first down,” said Hackett. “I went through the hole, the line did a great job, Ben pulled and came up with a huge block. I got through the hole, a kid hit me, I spun off him and all of a sudden no one’s in front of me.”
Bangor finished with a 385-283 edge in total offense, offsetting a 178-yard passing night by Backus — with eight catches by Jake Malone for 93 yards — with 315 rushing yards.
“We didn’t have a whole lot of breaks tonight, we really didn’t,” said Bangor coach Mark Hackett. “We had to have big plays and made just enough of them so we could this game.”
Twenty-four of Lonnie Hackett’s 33 carries went for 4 yards or less, but the big-play capability availed itself early as he broke off a 44-yard gain on Bangor’s fourth play from scrimmage to set up his 2-yard touchdown 2:02 into the game.
Mt. Blue closed within 7-6 on a 4-yard run by Izaiha Tracy with five minutes left in the second quarter.
But Lonnie Hackett countered with his 61-yard touchdown run on the first play after the subsequent kickoff as Bangor took a 14-6 halftime lead.
Mt. Blue drove 79 yards after taking the second-half kickoff and tied the game on a 3-yard keeper by Backus with 7:21 left in the third quarter.