ROCKPORT — It’s known in sporting parlance as a “trap” game, the contest on the schedule between two major showdowns.
But after a tough loss to perennial power Gardiner last weekend and with a homecoming date against defending Class B state champion Leavitt of Turner Center next Saturday, the Waterville Purple Panthers faced just such a game at Palmer Field on Saturday.
But J.T. Whitten would have none of this trap business, rushing for 157 yards and scoring three touchdowns as coach Frank Knight’s club defeated Camden Hills 35-22.
“In the first half we did really well, then we got tired in the second half,” said Whitten, a junior fullback and linebacker. “But a win’s a win.”
Whitten scored on a 2-yard run and on a 10-yard pass from quarterback Kyle Bishop in the second quarter to help the Purple Panthers build a 21-0 halftime lead.
Bishop, who completed 7 of 12 passes on the day for 77 yards, also hit tight end Tim Locke with a 22-yard scoring pass in the second period to cap a 34-yard drive that began when linebacker Mike Bailey recovered a fumble by Camden Hills quarterback Collin Downs.
Waterville’s defense, meanwhile, shut down both Downs and tailback Jacob Powers early, as the Camden Hills ground-gaining duo managed just 47 yards in the first half before Downs left the game late in the second quarter with apparent heat exhaustion and did not return.
“Our line up front was getting a good push and blowing things up in the backfield,” said Bishop. “That allowed our linebackers to flow to the football and make the tackles, but up front was the big thing in the first half.”
Powers did come alive in the second half, rushing for three touchdowns and 174 of his game-high 209 yards as the Windjammers (2-2) attempted a comeback.
Powers scored on a 49-yard run on the first series of the third quarter to pull the Windjammers within 21-6, but Waterville’s Josh Gormley ran the ensuing kickoff back 83 yards down the left sideline for a touchdown to take away Camden Hills’ momentum.
Whitten added his third touchdown of the game on a 17-yard run to make it 35-6 with 5:32 left in the third quarter.
Powers, en route to his second straight 200-yard rushing game, scored on touchdown runs of 50 and 25 yards in the fourth quarter, with backup quarterback Alex Crans rushing for a two-point conversion after each score.
“The first three quarters we played real good football, and in the fourth quarter we were lackluster, obviously,” said Bishop. “They have some good athletes out there and they took it to us. You’ve got to give them credit. We didn’t play well and they pounded the ball right down our throats.”
Crans, a sophomore, rushed for 25 yards on six carries and completed both of his pass attempts for 30 yards in relief of Downs.
Waterville freshman Evan Greatorex, playing for injured starting tailback Aaron Saucier, added 30 rushing yards for the Purple Panthers, while Bishop rushed five times for 32 yards.
Waterville (3-1) finished with 300 total yards and 18 first downs, while Camden Hills amassed 296 yards and 12 first downs.
Senior tackle Taylor Harrison led the Camden Hills defense.
Waterville (3-1) 0-21-14-0—-35
Camden Hills (2-2) 0—0—6-16—-22
W-Whitten 2 run (Bishop kick)
W-Whitten 10 pass from Bishop (Bishop kick)
W-Locke 22 pass from (Bishop) (Bishop kick)
CH-J. Powers 49 run (kick failed)
W-Gormley 83 kickoff return (Bishop kick)
W-Whitten 17 run (Bishop kick)
CH-J. Powers 50 run (Crans rush)
CH-J.Powers 25 run (Crans rush)