AUGUSTA — A young Lawrence team hung with Cony and quarterback Ben Lucas for the better part of four quarters Friday night at Alumni Field.
But in the end, Lucas and the Rams prevailed, 34-26, in a key Pine Tree Conference Class B matchup. Cony is now 3-1 and Lawrence is 2-2.
This was a slugfest in the first half, pitting Cony’s air attack against Lawrence’s ground game. The teams were tied 20-all at the half, but the Rams took the lead for good in the third quarter on a 33-yard touchdown pass from Lucas to Jonathan Saban. Lucas completed 19 of 31 passes for 322 yards and three touchdowns, all to Saban, who caught eight passes for 121 yards.
“Once (Tayler) Carrier went down (Saban) was going to have to be my primary most of the time,” Lucas said.
The Rams lost Carrier late in the first half when he sprained his ankle returning a punt and left the to have X-rays.
“He’s very valuable,” Cony coach Robby Vachon said. “He’s fantastic on offense, he’s fantastic on defense. It’s a big loss for us right now, but we’re not sure. We’re going to have to wait and see.”
The Bulldogs matched the Rams play for play, getting big games from running back Beau Grenier and quarterback James Leathers. Grenier finished with 176 yards on 18 carries and scored two touchdowns. Leathers completed 7 of 10 passes for 139 yards and a touchdown of 18 yards to Dustin Simpson-Bragg.
“It was a pretty good effort for us,” Lawrence coach John Hersom said. “We came out and executed pretty good in the first half. They had some field position in the second half with a couple of key turnovers on our part. But we’ll take that and learn from it.”
John Bennett intercepted Leathers in the third quarter to set up a 33-yard scoring pas from Lucas to Saban that made it 27-20.
“It was originally just supposed to be a slide, but the corner bit up,” Lucas said. “I had good time up front and he turned it into a wheel and I just put it on him.”
The Bulldogs bounced back behind Grenier and Leathers. Grenier ripped off a 30-yard gain into Cony territory. After a sack and a penalty, Leathers hit tight end Seth Powers on a slant through the middle that went for 47 yards. Grenier capped the drive with a 2-yard plunge but the conversion kick went wide to make it 27-26.
The Rams marched 76 yards on the ensuing drive, with Saban finishing it with a nice little sidestep past a defender for a 10-yard score. Nick Benner recovered a Lawrence fumble on the Bulldogs’ next drive and Rams controlled the clock to the finish, with Lucas making key completions to Saban and Charlie Hallak.
Sophomore Reid Shostak, a standout on defense, carried the ball 16 times in the second half and finished with 88 rushing yards.
“They kind of took away our quick little outside screens so there were openings up the middle,” Lucas said. “We came in (the second half) trying to pound the ball.”
Gary Hawkins — 621-5638