DOVER-FOXCROFT, Maine — The Bucksport football team served Foxcroft Academy a serious dose of humility three weeks ago, unceremoniously dumping the Ponies from a dominant perch atop the LTC.
The payback came Friday night.
Top-seeded Foxcroft played power football on offense and yielded just 66 total yards on defense in overwhelming fourth-ranked Bucksport 45-0 in their conference semifinal at Oakes Field.
“We’ve tried to focus on the team that we’re playing each week since that loss but it was definitely in the back of our minds,” said Foxcroft junior quarterback Hunter Law. “We’ve been thinking about how we just wanted that second chance to go out and show them what we can do, and we were so thankful to have that chance.”
The Ponies (9-1) will host second-ranked John Bapst of Bangor, a 30-22 semifinal winner over Orono, at 1 p.m. next Saturday in the LTC Class C title game. Foxcroft defeated the Crusaders 40-0 at Bangor on Oct. 6.
Bucksport, the defending LTC champion, ends its season at 7-3.
“Obviously they beat us up front, they manhandled us, they were well coached. They were on a mission,” said Bucksport coach Joel Sankey. “From the first time we played them this season that was an entirely different team we played tonight. They were very, very good.”
Senior halfback Don Boyer led Foxcroft’s offense with 117 rushing yards on 20 carries, often behind the punishing lead blocks of his younger brother, sophomore fullback Peter Boyer, and an offensive line that felt it had something to prove in the aftermath of the Ponies’ stunning 13-0 loss at Bucksport on Oct. 12 — which came after Foxcroft had defeated its first six opponents by a combined 322-8.
“The difference tonight was we came out with a lot more pride and we had a lot to make up for,” said Foxcroft senior tackle Alex Sedore. “Last time we came out cocky, and this week we changed that.
“Last game we had a lot of problem handling their stunts, and our interior and exterior linemen did a lot of work this week to make sure we could take care of business.”
Law added 41 rushing yards and two touchdowns for the Ponies, who turned to the power-I formation for much of their 240 yards on the ground.
“It definitely was a change, but we like to change it up every week and give the defense on the other team a different look,” said Law. “It worked early on so we just stuck with it and kept driving down the field.”
Foxcroft’s defense limited Bucksport to four first downs as Sedore and fellow tackle Louis LaFache plugged up the middle while 6-foot-6 defensive end Kolby Kendall hurried several of Bucksport quarterback Matthew Stewart’s pass attempts.
“The linemen stepped it up big-time this week on both sides,” said Law. “They opened up holes and created big opportunities for our running backs and on defense they stuck them on the line. They couldn’t do anything up front, which made it easy for the secondary.”
Foxcroft’s special teams also contributed in a major way, particularly during the second half. Wesley Stinson returned the third-quarter kickoff 72 yards to set up a 23-yard field goal by Caleb Richard, Kendall blocked a punt to set up a score and Ryan Rebar returned a punt 68 yards for a touchdown.
In addition to his field goal, Richard was 6-for-6 on extra-point kicks.
“We really came to play, and it was truly their preparation all week,” said Foxcroft coach Danny White. “They were truly dialed in and they executed everything we asked them to and more. We had a tremendous push at the line of scrimmage and we communicated well up front and that was clear.
“We really played a great team football game tonight.”
Foxcroft’s defense set the tone for the evening on the second play from scrimmage, when a pass interception by Don Boyer — the game’s only turnover — gave the Ponies possession at the Bucksport 19-line.
The Ponies didn’t capitalize on their short field immediately but scored on their next possession on a 19-yard keeper by Law with 1:48 left in the first quarter.
Foxcroft chewed up the first 6 minutes, 8 seconds of the second period on its next drive, a 12-play, 51-yard march that ended when Law made a well-executed fake handoff to Peter Boyer to draw the defense’s attention and then raced 8 yards untouched into the end zone to give the Ponies a 14-0 lead.
Bucksport had its best chance of the night just before halftime when an errant Foxcroft punt snap gave the Golden Bucks possession at the Ponies’ 28.
The Golden Bucks generated one first down, but the drive ended when Josh Gray was ruled out of bounds along the right sideline as he caught a fourth-down pass from Stewart in the end zone.
“It’s certainly a different tone if they score there,” said White. “But our defense was just tremendous tonight. What do you say? We were in spots where we were supposed to be and we made aggressive tackles and good football plays all night.”
Stinson’s long kickoff return set the Ponies up immediately after intermission, and while a Bucksport defense led throughout the game by junior linebacker Nic Bishop stiffened, Richards’ field goal with 7:16 left in the third period extended Foxcroft’s lead to 17-0.
After a Bucksport three-and-out that began with a sack of Stewart by LaFache, Kendall raced in from right end to block a punt by Gray that gave Foxcroft the ball at the Golden Bucks’ 3. Don Boyer scored on the next play to make it 24-0.
The Ponies padded their lead with 21 fourth-quarter points on Peter Boyer’s 22-yard scoring run, a 12-yard run by Stinson and Rebar’s punt return to the end zone with 2:16 remaining.