BUCKSPORT, Maine — The Foxcroft Academy football team had accumulated some astounding statistics through the first six weeks of the 2012 season — outscoring its opposition by a collective 322-8.
The Bucksport Golden Bucks weren’t impressed.
The defending LTC champions turned Foxcroft mistakes into two early touchdowns Friday night, then rode a stifling defensive performance to a 13-0 victory over the previously undefeated Ponies on Senior Night at chilly Carmichael Field.
“We needed to stop them, that was the number one thing,” said Bucksport two-way tackle Jimmy Osgood, one of just four seniors on the Golden Bucks roster. “And this being Senior Night we came out with an incredible amount of intensity.”
Osgood and linebacker Nic Bishop anchored a Bucksport defense that limited Foxcroft to 56 rushing yards on 37 carries and 160 yards of total offense — less than half of the Ponies’ season average of 356.6 yards per game coming into the contest.
Junior defensive back Josh Gray also helped the Bucks hold Foxcroft wideout Ryan Rebar — who entered the game with 18 pass receptions, seven for touchdowns — to two catches.
“You’ve got to give credit where credit is due,” said Foxcroft coach Danny White. “They beat us up front, there’s no secret in that. We really couldn’t get anything going offensively. They were really solid in the interior of their defense and then they capitalized on offense when they needed to.”
Foxcroft also committed four turnovers, the first leading led to Bucksport’s first touchdown and two others ending fourth-quarter comeback bids inside the Bucksport 20-yard line.
“Our kids played well, we got a lot of breaks and we capitalized on them early,” said Bucksport coach Joel Sankey, whose defending LTC champions improved their record to 5-2. “The defense played very, very well. They hit, and they flew to the ball. They played their responsibilities.”
Sophomore quarterback Matthew Stewart complemented Bucksport’s defensive effort by completing 8 of 14 passes for 115 yards and two touchdowns. And while the Golden Bucks rushed for just 87 yards, they were able to use the running of Asher Bowden and Bishop to control the clock at key times of the game.
“We’re not a bad football team,” said Sankey. “We’ve lost two games leading going into the fourth quarter. We’re very young, but we knew we had the talent and it was just a matter of whether or not it would come together.”
Bucksport’s Kp Hilaire recovered a Foxcroft fumble at the Ponies’ 24 midway through the first quarter, and Stewart found sophomore Jack Cyr open over the middle with a touchdown pass on the next play — marking the first points the Ponies’ starting defense had allowed this season.
Gray kicked the extra point to give the Golden Bucks a 7-0 lead with 5:15 left in the first quarter.
Foxcroft managed just one first down before being forced to punt on its next possession, and when the fourth-punt snap went awry, Bucksport had the ball inside Ponies’ territory again.
Stewart led the Bucks on a seven-play, 41-yard drive that ended when he connected with Gabe Stearns on an 8-yard touchdown pass at the end of the opening quarter. Stearns caught the ball in the right flat near the 5-yard line and broke two tackles to reach the end zone.
From there it was left to Bucksport’s defense to preserve the lead.
Foxcroft threatened at the outset of the fourth quarter when junior quarterback Hunter Law passed down the right sideline to Rebar for a 51-yard gain to the Bucksport 6, but a fumble by the Ponies on the next play was recovered by Stearns.
“We get down there with almost 10 minutes left in the fourth quarter with a chance to punch it in and are unable to do so because we turn the ball over. That’s a pretty big blow, especially in a game where we’re having a tough time moving the ball.” said White. “We finally get a big play, and not being able to punch it in right then took a lot of the wind out of our sails.”
Foxcroft had one more chance deep in Bucksport territory after the Golden Bucks came up short on fourth-and-inches from their own 20, but a second-down pass from Law to Rebar was tipped by Bishop and then intercepted by Cyr to end the threat.
Gray followed with another Bucksport interception moments later to end Foxcroft’s next possession.
“We actually completed a game,” said Osgood. “We actually played 48 minutes instead of 42 or so. This is the first game we’ve played incredibly the whole way through, instead of falling in the last six minutes.”