BREWER — It is a common sports adage: “It’s a game of inches.”
That was literally the case on Friday night as Brewer High School defensive backs Dillon Smith and Anthony Jackson stopped Mount Desert Island running back Cameron Crawford inches short of a first down at Brewer’s 24-yard line on a fourth-and-five with 4:29 remaining to rescue a hard-fought 14-12 victory at Doyle Field.
The Trojans had strung together an impressive nine-play drive from its own four-yard line to Brewer’s 29, highlighted by Trevor Alley’s 41-yard run, and quarterback Donny Hanson tossed a quick pitch to Crawford running off the left end.
“I saw the pitch go over to (Crawford) and I had him by the legs,” said Smith. “Then I kind of slipped and I held on to his shirt. (Jackson) hit him at the feet and he fell down.
“(The measurement) was really close. It was just a matter of inches,” said Smith.
“We knew they were going to either run outside or pass it to the tight end like they did all night so (when they pitched hit), I had to hustle over to the end,” said Jackson.
“They stuffed us right at the marker,” said MDI coach Mark Shields.
Brewer all but iced the game when quarterback Chris Miller hit Nate Morris for a 17-yard gain on third-and-10. It was Miller’s first completion of the game.
“It was a quick seam pass. It was a big play for us. It was a big momentum-changer to end the game,” said Miller.
A 10-yard run on third-and-seven by Brody Valley later in the drive bolted the door shut.
Brewer made enough big plays to come out with its third win in four games and deal MDI its third loss in four games.
Earlier in the fourth quarter, after Crawford finished off a 12-play, 72-yard drive with a one-yard TD plunge, the Witches stopped Alley just short of the end zone on the potential game-tying two-point conversion rush.
“This game easily could have gone the other way,” said Brewer coach Don Farnham.
It didn’t seem that way at the start of the game.
The speedy Jackson returned the opening kickoff 80 yards for a touchdown and MDI fumbled the ball away on its first play from scrimmage.
“I’ve got to give it to the big guys up front. They kept on their blocks, I saw a hole and took it to the house,” said Jackson.
Devon Fisher kicked the extra point.
Donny Hanson prevented the Witches from extending their lead with an interception and 62-yard return to the B-31.
Moments later, Hanson, who is also the quarterback, tossed a quick nine-yard TD pass over the middle to Sean Harding to pull the Trojans within 7-6 but the extra point kick was wide.
The Witches hurt themselves with penalties and turnovers throughout but were able to take a 14-6 lead into the intermission on a 32-yard halfback option pass from Jackson to a wide open Jacob Chapman with 18 seconds left in the half.
“It was a designed play for a situation like that when we needed a quick score. It worked out real well,” said Jackson.
The eight-play, 87-yard march was set up by a Morris fumble recovery at Brewer’s 13-yard line.
The Trojans, held to just 43 rushing yards on 22 carries in the first half, moved the ball much more effectively in the second half as they gained 137 yards on 25 carries.
Alley gained 71 of those second-half yards on eight carries.
MDI standout running back Jayson Burke didn’t dress for the game due to a concussion.
“I was proud of my kids. We came up her with 26 kids dressed,” said Shields. “(In the second half), the kids realized they can play with a program like (Brewer) and they did. We started moving the ball down the field. We were just half an inch too short. It’s as simple as that. And they stuffed us on that two-point conversion.”
“We needed a close game like this and we needed our defense to come up with big stops so they know they can do that,” said Farnham.
Smith finished with 86 rushing yards on 15 carries and Valley had 76 on 17 carries.
Alley finished with 72 yards on 10 carries and Elias Burne carried 22 times for 54 yards. Hanson completed three of four passes, all to Harding, for 37 yards.
Linebacker Morris, tackle Michael Reed and nose guard Shane McLaughlin were praised by Farnham for their defensive play while MDI’s defense received outstanding performances from linebacker Burne, safety Hanson and tackle Ezra Hallett.