FARMINGTON — When his team’s 20-point lead was suddenly cut to six points early in the fourth quarter, Mt. Blue High School football coach Gary Parlin did what good football coaches have done for decades. Parlin put the ball in the hands of his best player and told him to go win the game.
That player was quarterback Jordan Whitney and, with his team in need of a big play, Whitney made a few. The senior marched the Cougars 80 yards in nine plays, running seven times and throwing once on the drive. The pass came on fourth and 22 to go from the Gardiner 31-yard line and was a touchdown to Nate Backus in the right corner of the end zone.
“Coach (Parlin) has been wanting to get that pass all year. Ever since I was a sophomore, he’s been like ‘We’re going to get one of those corner passes.’ Nate made a great catch,” Whitney said.
The play gave Mt. Blue the score it needed and the Cougars took a 33-21 win over Gardiner. The top seed in the Pine Tree Conference Class B playoffs, Mt. Blue (10-0) will host the winner of today’s game between No. 7 Belfast and No. 6 Waterville in the conference championship game next week. No. 4 Gardiner ends the season at 6-4.
“He did that drive by himself,” Parlin said. “They took away some inside stuff, but left some outside stuff for Jordan.”
Whitney gained 313 yards of offense. While running for 140 yards on 16 carries, Whitney was 7-for-7 passing for 173 yards, throwing three touchdown passes and running for another.
“Coach (Parlin) just put in a bunch of quarterback running plays this week. I was like ‘I’m running the ball, I guess.’ It worked. The line blocked so well tonight,” Whitney said.
Chad Luker’s 9-yard touchdown run early in the third quarter gave Mt. Blue a 27-7 lead, but when a high snap went over Whitney’s head and into the end zone on Mt. Blue’s next possession, Gardiner’s Steve Sirois fell on the ball for a touchdown.
The Cougars lost a fumble on the Gardiner 22 on their next possession, and the Tigers went 78 yards in 10 plays. Seth Wing scored on a 6-yard run, and it was a 27-21 game with 10:05 left.
After eking out a 14-13 win over No. 8 Mt. Desert Island last week, the Cougars came out with profound intensity in this game. Nick Hyde intercepted Gardiner quarterback Dennis Meehan on Gardiner’s fourth play from scrimmage, setting up Mt. Blue’s first score. Mt. Blue held Gardiner to 97 yards of offense in the first half, and focused on containing Meehan throughout the game. Defensive end Zak Kendall and linebacker Luker combined for five tackles for a loss.
“The hard thing with Meehan, you have to fan your ends out so much, is when he can run up the middle,” Parlin said. “We tried to have our linebackers spy him at the end. Dustin Richards and Zak Kendall, I think did a great job all night of keeping him in the pocket.”
Added Kendall: “They like to roll out and Meehan likes to throw the football on the run. My first step was outside to make sure he didn’t get outside. Chad makes tackles wherever the football is.”
Down 12 points and facing a fourth and 8 near midifeld, Gardiner coach Matt Burgess had Meehan quick kick, to give the Tiger defense a chance to stop the Cougars. At the time, Gardiner had all three timesouts, and while they did stop the Cougars and got the ball back, Gardiner lost the ball on downs with 42 seconds left.
“You try to put your best unit on the field and get the ball back as quick as you can. They’ve been a great defense all year long,” Burgess said.
Whitney and Backus (four catches for 118 yards) connected on a 33-yard touchdown pass just over four minutes into the game for a 6-0 lead. With four seconds left in the first quarter, Whitney ran 14 yards for a score and added the 2-point conversion for a 14-0 lead.
A 23-yard touchdown pass from Whitney to Kindle Bonsall with 6:08 left in the second quarter pushed Mt. Blue’s lead to 21-0. Meehan (nine carries for 58 yards) scored on a 4-yard run with 1.7 seconds left in the first half to make it 21-7. Meehan’s score came one play after Tyler Jamison ran 9 yards on a fake field goal to extend the drive.
Sirois ran for 85 yards on 27 carries for the Tigers.
Travis Lazarczyk — 861-9242