The Bangor Rams scored the final 35 points of the game to rally for a season-opening 42-21 high school football victory over cross-river rival Brewer on Friday night at Cameron Stadium in Bangor.
Class A Bangor trailed the Class B Witches 21-7 with 1:30 left in the first quarter after Brewer senior Kaleb Bryant twice rushed for touchdowns within a 1 minute, 58-second span.
But a 4-yard touchdown pass from sophomore quarterback Max Clark to Keegan Cyr as time expired in the opening period was just the beginning of things for a balanced Bangor attack that amassed 394 yards of total offense — 265 on the ground and 129 through the air.
While Brewer was unable to stop the Rams over the final three quarters, Bangor adjusted defensively to a Brewer offense that rushed for 102 first-quarter yards and limited the Witchers to 104 more yards on the ground the rest of the way.
But just as important to the rebuilding Rams as offensive balance and defensive adjustments was an attitude that defied the fact that coach Dave Morris’ club started just two seniors in this 108th meeting against Brewer in a rivalry that began in 1903.
“We faced adversity but the biggest thing was we bounced back,” Bangor junior running back and linebacker James Neel said. “You use adversity as a strength, not a weakness, so when that happens you get motivated to do better.”
Bangor extended its advantage in the series to 74-26-8 while playing Brewer in a countable game for the first time since 2010, the Witches’ last season in Class A.
“This is not a surprise to us,” Morris said. “We’re excited about the fact that we got the win, we don’t take those things for granted, but I’m really happy for our guys because they’re really seeing that hard work pays off.”
Junior halfback Jonny Lyon led Bangor’s rushing attack with 123 yards on 11 carries, and Clark completed 9 of 15 passes for 129 yards and a touchdown while hitting six different receivers.
Junior fullback Cody Graves paced a balanced Brewer rushing attack with 63 yards on 14 tries, while Anthony Chiappone (21-59) and Bryant (11-57) also were productive on the ground for coach Nick Arthers’ club.
Lyon rushed for two Bangor touchdowns, including a 58-yard scoring run on the first play of the Rams’ second possession of the game.
That run, which came after Logan Levensalor had given Brewer a 7-0 lead on a 13-yard run with 6:17 left in the first quarter, featured the blocking of linemen Cason Markevich and Ezra Hamer-Nagle along with a key downfield block by wideout Eli Bradford.
Bryant, one of just three Brewer seniors to start the game, answered with scoring runs of 11 and 9 yards to give Brewer its two-touchdown cushion before Bangor rallied to forge a 21-21 halftime tie on Clark’s scoring pass to Cyr and junior wideout Tim Craig’s 10-yard touchdown run with 1:28 left before intermission.
The Rams scored on all three of their second-half possessions, beginning with Lyon’s 3-yard touchdown run to give Bangor its first lead with 8:41 left in the third quarter.
Bangor’s defense stopped a Brewer drive at the Rams’ 22 late in the third quarter, then marched 75 yards before being forced to attempt a 21-yard Markevich field goal.
A high center snap led to that kick being blocked, but Cyr picked up the free ball at the 3-yard line and raced into the end zone for an unusual touchdown that pushed the Bangor lead to 35-21 with 8:27 left in the game.
Bangor then stopped another Brewer drive at the Rams’ 14 before sophomore Joey Morrison added the Rams’ final touchdown on a 69-yard sprint with 2:30 remaining.
Morrison amassed 122 total yards on just three touches, with 89 yards on two rushes and a 32-yard pass reception to go with a pass interception on defense.
Markevich went 7-for-7 on extra-point tries for Bangor, while senior lineman Bryce Henaire was a defensive standout for the Rams.
It’s a great feeling, a great feeling,” said Lyon of Bangor’s first season-opening victory since 2014. “Especially beating your rivals.”