FAIRFIELD — It wasn’t perfect and it certainly wasn’t easy, but the Lawrence football team executed enough big plays Saturday to secure yet another trip to Fitzpatrick Stadium.
Josh Doolan rushed for two second half touchdowns, both set up by Spencer Carey interceptions, and top-seeded Lawrence overcame five turnovers to beat No. 2 Cony 20-10 in the Pine Tree Conference Class A championship game in front of about 5,000 fans at Keyes Field.
“We knew Cony would bring it,” Doolan said. “We’re glad things went the way they did. We had to fight through some adversity. We had to battle and battle. We just kept fighting and came out on top.”
The Bulldogs (11-0) reached the Class A state title game for the second consecutive season. They will play Thornton Academy (10-1), which upset two-time defending state champ Cheverus in the Western A final on Saturday in Portland at a time to be determined.
Doolan rushed for 88 yards and a touchdown on 11 carries. Anthony Sementelli rushed for 69 yards on 22 carries.
“It was quite a battle,” Lawrence coach John Hersom said. “Cony was a much-improved football team. They made it tough on us.”
The Rams (8-3) certainly did, racing out to a 10-0 lead in the second quarter, thanks to a 42-yard touchdown pass from Ben Lucas to Chandler Shostak, but couldn’t capitalize on a few opportunities, particularly in the first half.
Lucas completed 17 of 33 passes for 177 yards and a touchdown. He also threw two interceptions that led to 14 Lawrence points.
“We went into the game wanting to make them feel uncomfortable,” Cony coach Robby Vachon said. “We accomplished that. We came to play. We gave it our best shot; it just wasn’t enough.”
The Bulldogs trailed 10-3 at the half but surged ahead for good when sophomore Chad Martin booted a 31-yard field goal before Doolan rushed for a 4-yard touchdown with 2 minutes, 8 seconds left in the third quarter.
The touchdown, coupled with Martin’s extra point, gave Lawrence a 13-10 lead.
It also came after Lucas threw the first of his two interceptions to Carey.
“Lucas is a great quarterback,” Carey said. “But our coaches did a great job of getting us in the right positions. I just made a play on the ball. It was a big play.”
Indeed, it was. Carey intercepted Lucas at the Cony 30-yard line and then raced down to the 2 that set the Bulldogs up with first and goal. Two plays later, Doolan rushed off tackle and squirted into the end zone.
“I saw an opening and ran right to it,” he said.
Cony was in position to tie or take the lead when Lawrence muffed a punt nearly two minutes into the fourth. The Rams had possession at the Lawrence 45-yard line, but Carey again intercepted Lucas on a deep ball in the red zone.
The Bulldogs took over at their own 15 and broke the game open when Doolan busted through the left side and rushed 47 yards for a touchdown with 8:44 left in the game.
“We brought it in the second half,” Doolan said. “We made some big plays.”
The Lawrence defense shut the Rams down the rest of the way to preserve the victory.
“We came out and played really well in the first half but we didn’t get it done in the second,” said Shostak, who had four catches for 55 yards and a touchdown. “We feel good about the season but this is still a pretty awful feeling.”
Cony got things rolling when Zach Lachance kicked a 22-yard field goal late in the first quarter to snap a scoreless game. The field goal came after the first of five Lawrence turnovers.
The second Lawrence turnover, an Anthony Sementelli fumble early in the second, set the Rams up at their own 32-yard line.
Lucas completed a few short passes to Tayler Carrier and Jonathan Saban before he connected with Shostak over the middle for a 42-yard touchdown.
“They had a safety blitz and we went deep,” Shostak said. “I ran my route and Ben made a good read. It was a big play.”
Trailing 10-0, Lawrence finally broke through when Martin kicked a 37-yard field goal in the closing seconds of the half.
“That gave us some light right before the half,” Hersom said. “We thought that as poor as we played in the first half we were only down one score. We knew our defense was playing well.”
Bill Stewart — 621-5640