Like other high school football teams around the state, the Bangor Rams couldn’t wait to get to  the game site for Friday’s opening night of the 2021 season.

It was their first real game in nearly two years after COVID-19 wiped out the 2020 campaign, and while the trip to the game was a matter of a few miles, the excursion led to a satisfying result as Bangor scored a 54-13 victory over neighboring Brewer in the 109th edition of their rivalry at Doyle Field.

“It was awesome,” said quarterback Max Clark, one of 25 seniors on the Rams’ roster. “On the bus ride we were all talking. I don’t know if I’d call it butterflies but we were anxious to play. We were just ready to go, it didn’t matter who was playing.”

That last sentiment might not have been universal among the Rams, as senior halfback Joey Morrison ran for 37 yards on the game’s first play from scrimmage and went on to finish the night with 217 yards and two touchdowns on 15 rushes.

“It made it that much better that it was Brewer,” he said. “We wanted Brewer.”

Morrison’s speed-driven running game, aided by strong line play that enabled Bangor to amass more than 400 total yards of offense, was complemented by a diversified passing attack that on this night featured the combination of Clark and senior tight end Colton Emerson.

Clark employed five different receivers while completing 12 of 20 passes for 157 yards, but Emerson was his favorite target with four connections, all for touchdowns on plays totaling 73 yards.

Clark and Emerson teamed up for second-quarter touchdown passes of 20 and 22 yards as Bangor built a 28-7 halftime lead, then combined for third-quarter scoring plays of 20 and 11 yards as the Class A Rams continued a run of 41 consecutive points against the Class B Witches.

Morrison contributed scoring runs of 6 and 16 yards as the Rams scored their second straight victory over the Witches and now hold a 75-26-8 lead in the rivalry that began in 1903.

Bangor’s defense, meanwhile, forced three Brewer turnovers on pass interceptions by Landon Clark and Yedi Moneke and a fumble recovery by Jake Hirsch to go with early quarterback sacks by Moneke and fellow linebacker Kevin Grover.

Junior halfback Cameron Hughes paced Brewer with 88 rushing yards on 18 carries, but the Witches’ offense was largely contained after scoring on its first possession.

Bangor jumped out to a 7-0 lead less than two minutes into the game, with Morrison’s lengthy run to the right sideline on the first play after the kickoff leading to his 16-yard scoring run to the left corner of the end zone four plays later.

Joey Morrison scores the first touchdown of the night as Bangor beat Brewer 54-13 on Friday, Sept. 3, 2021. Credit: Lindsay Putnam / BDN

A 46-yard run by Hughes on Brewer’s second offensive play of the night set up the Witches’ lone touchdown of the half, a 3-yard sneak by junior quarterback Ryder Goodwin with 6:45 left in the opening period. Rowan Valley’s extra-point kick produced a 7-7 tie.

Bangor scored on three consecutive possessions during the second quarter, including two touchdown strikes from Clark to Emerson, to build its 21-point halftime lead.

The Rams took the lead for good on the second play of the second quarter after Morrison had given his team good field position with a 19-yard punt return. Seven plays later he scored from 6 yards out to complete the 35-yard mini-drive.

Bangor advanced 60 yards on its next possession, with Clark passing to Keegan Cyr for 14 yards to start the march and later connecting with a high-arching pass to Emerson deep in the right corner of the end zone for a 20-yard scoring play to make it 21-7 with 8:12 left in the half.

Bangor capped off its second-quarter scoring barrage with a 58-yard possession that ended with Clark’s 22-yard pass over the middle to Emerson and one of Parker Richmond’s six successful extra-point kicks on the night with 3:41 left before intermission.

Clark found Emerson for their third touchdown connection on Bangor’s first possession of the second half, with Morrison’s 66-yard run on the first play after the kickoff setting up a 20-yard completion from Clark to Emerson in the center of the end zone two plays later.

The two linked up again with 55 seconds left in the period, this time from 11 yards out with Emerson making the catch and keeping one foot inbounds just before going out of the back of the end zone.

Hunter Gorman added a 3-yard scoring run for the Rams with 5:07 left in the game to make it 48-7 before Brewer’s Evan Nadeau returned the ensuing kickoff 49 yards to set up Valley’s 41-yard touchdown run with 4:25 remaining.

Freshman Jackson Varney scored Bangor’s final touchdown on a 55-yard run with 1:45 left.

Ernie Clark

Ernie Clark is a veteran sportswriter who has worked with the Bangor Daily News for more than a decade. A four-time Maine Sportswriter of the Year as selected by the National Sportscasters and Sportswriters...