BRUNSWICK – They were outgained by nearly 200 yards and at times pushed up and down the field.
Yet a youthful but resilient Bangor High School football team withstood a talented Brunswick team and capitalized on the Dragons’ mistakes to open their 2011 Pine Tree Conference Class A schedule with a 21-20 victory Friday night.
This game matching two teams considered among the leading contenders in Eastern Maine Class A ultimately was decided by turnovers –- the six fumbles lost by Brunswick and the none given up by Bangor.
“To beat a good team like Bangor you’ve got to play well,” said Brunswick coach Dan Cooper. “We made too many mistakes, and they’re a good football team and didn’t make many mistakes, so the team that played the best won.”
Brunswick outgained Bangor 343-148 in total offense, and the Rams’ longest scoring drive covered 22 yards.
But Bangor scored each of its three touchdowns after recovering a fumble, and later withstood a bad punt snap of its own that gave Brunswick the ball at the Bangor 15-yard line with two minutes left in the game by inducing one final Dragons’ turnover, a fumbled snap by quarterback Jason Carter that was recovered by Greg Duff.
“We didn’t go away,” said Bangor coach Mark Hackett. “We always tell the kids to don’t go away because you never know what’s going to happen. We didn’t go away, and we won.”
Senior tailback Dylan Walton led Brunswick’s offense, rushing for 174 yards on 25 carries and giving the Dragons a 6-0 lead on a 5-yard scoring run with 2:54 left in the opening quarter.
Bangor took its first lead shortly after linebacker Cody Chapman stripped Carter of the ball and sophomore defensive end Nick Ashey recovered for the Rams at the Brunswick 8 with 6:12 left in the first half.
Junior tailback Zeb Tuell scored on a fourth-down run from the 2, and Carl Farnham added the extra-point kick to give Bangor a 7-6 lead.
But Brunswick answered with its longest drive of the night, an 80-yard, 10-play march culminating when Jason Rysdham scored from the 5 with 15.4 seconds left in the first half and Carter passed to Trent Anderson for the two-point conversion to give the Dragons a 14-7 lead at the break.
But four of Brunswick’s six second-half possessions ended in lost fumbles – two of which were recovered by Bangor junior defensive tackle Garret Foss, the first he returned 4 yards for a game-tying touchdown with 2:31 left in the third quarter.
“I saw the ball and decided to pick it up and run with it,” said Foss, who was playing in his first varsity game. “I couldn’t believed it happened.”
A Cain Corkum fumble recovery early in the fourth quarter set up Bangor’s final touchdown, with Tuell capping off a grinding 22-yard, seven-play drive by scoring from the 1 with 7:19 left to give the Rams a 21-14 lead.
Brunswick then drove 66 yards to pull within 21-20 on a 3-yard touchdown run by Walton with 2:28 left, but Bangor stuffed the Dragons’ try for the go-ahead two-point conversion run.
“I just felt that we had an opportunity to go for the win,” said Cooper. “I felt like we were playing catch-up the whole game. We ran a play that they hadn’t stopped, and I didn’t think they could stop it again.”
Brunswick then used its three timeouts and stout defense of its own to force a quick Bangor punt, and when the snap sailed high and Farnham was able to deflect the ball with one hand but was forced to fall on it at the Rams’ 15.
But as opportunity presented itself for the Dragons, it quickly went away as so many other chances had, with one final fumble.
“There’s no team that’s going to come out here for 48 minutes and not make one mistake,” said Foss. “Our mistake happened at the end, but it didn’t hurt us. We have confidence in each other. We’re a young team, but we all stick together and that’s what it takes.”
Bangor (1-0) 0-7-7-7—21
Brunswick (0-1) 6-8-0-6—20
Brun — Walton 5 run (kick failed)
Bang — Tuell 2 run (Farnham kick)
Brun — Rysdham 5 run (Anderson pass from Carter)
Bang — Foss 4 fumble recovery (Farnham kick)
Bang — Tuell 1 run (Farnham kick)
Brun — Walton 3 run (rush failed)