TURNER — The most important play the Mt. Blue High School football team ran on Friday night at Leavitt wasn’t even in the playbook at the start of the game.
“Fake 42 Rip, naked bootleg,” Mt. Blue quarterback Jordan Whitney said.
With the Cougars facing third down and 7 at the Leavitt 42, with just over a minute to play and trying to run out the clock, coach Gary Parlin called the play he installed at halftime. Whitney faked the handoff to Calan Lucas, who has to earn a commission for the way he sold it. That freed Whitney to sprint to the right sideline and gain 15 yards and a first down.
“We saw their end came pinching down,” Parlin said. “I said to Calan ‘All you’ve got to do is take a fake.’ He did. He sold it.”
Added tight end Zak Kendall: “We’ve never run it all season. I don’t even think we ran it last season. We called the play, and Jordan did his thing.”
From there, the Cougars ran out the clock and took a 20-12 win over the Hornets. Mt. Blue is now 6-0 and alone at the top of the Pine Tree Conference Class B division. For Leavitt (5-1), the loss snapped a 38-game win streak against PTC B opponents, and was the Hornets’ first conference loss since the 2008 playoffs.
The Cougars used last year’s 22-21 loss at Leavitt in the conference final as inspiration throughout the game.
“We always, coming back to the huddle, one point. That one point they had last year. That kept us pumped up enough, and we took the ball away every time we needed to,” Kendall said.
The Cougars recovered two Leavitt fumbles, both in the red zone, killing pivotal drives. The first came late in the second quarter and the second came on Leavitt’s second drive of the second half.
“We put in on the ground. You can’t do that in a one score game and expect to win,” Leavitt head coach Mike Hathaway said.
Mt. Blue came out attacking, and after running just four offensive plays, the Cougars had a 14-0 lead. Whitney connected with Cam Abbott on a 41-yard touchdown pass 39 seconds into the game for a 7-0 lead, with Abbott outjumping a defender for the ball. After forcing the Hornets to go three and out, Chad Luker ran 73 yards for a touchdown. Anthony Franchetti’s extra point made it 14-0 with 9:31 left in the first quarter.
“We played them last year and lost by one. We were ready to play football,” Whitney, who threw for 98 yards, said. “Cam Abbott made a great catch. We just kept going from there.”
Added Hathaway: “The first two drives of the game defensively, we weren’t good. We didn’t get off blocks.”
The Hornets put together a 14-play, 69-yard scoring drive late in the first quarter, with Brian Bedard scoring on a 2-yard run with 2:53 left in the first.
The Cougars answered just 50 seconds into the second quarter when Whitney found Nick Hyde streaking down the left sideline for a 32-yard touchdown pass and a 20-6 lead.
In the second half, Leavitt got Bedard more involved in the offense. The senior finished with 71 yards rushing and 63 yards receiving and caught a 6-yard touchdown pass from Tyler Chicoine with 8:29 left in the game. The Hornets tried an option play for the 2-point conversion, but Mt. Blue flushed it out and the score was 20-12.
“If we said the word Bedard once during practice, we said it 8,000 times. He’s just a good player,” Parlin said.
Leavitt’s last chance came when the Hornets got the ball at their own 26 with 7:12 left. The Cougars held Leavitt to a three and out, and when Mt. Blue got the ball back with 6:17 to play, the Cougars never gave it back.
The Cougars converted three third downs on that final drive, culminating with Lucas’ fake and Whitney’s run.
“The thing is this week, the seniors took over practice. They really did. They were very easy to coach this week. In fact, part of our job was to sort of tone them down a little bit,” Parlin said.
Luker had 116 yards on 12 carries.
Travis Lazarczyk — 861-9242