FARMINGTON — Bruised, battered and banged up, the Mt. Blue football team practiced pad-free this week with the hopes of staying fresh for its pivotal showdown Friday night against Pine Tree Conference Class B frontrunner Brunswick.
“This is the first week ever, since I’ve been coaching, (that) we practiced in just helmets this week.” Mt. Blue coach Gary Parlin said. “We didn’t even dare hit a bag. But I think honestly this is one of the best games we played all year.”
It still wasn’t enough.
Will Bessey rushed for a game-high 149 yards and three touchdowns on 28 carries to lead the Dragons past the Cougars 34-20 before a large crowd.
Bessey, who filled in for injured fullback Alex Bandouveres, put the game away with a 5-yard touchdown run with 2 minutes, 41 seconds left in the game.
Brady Larson also had a big game for Brunswick (5-0), completing 6 of his 8 passes for 201 yards and a touchdown.
“It was a good win,” Brunswick coach Dan Cooper said. “We had to gut it out. This was a challenge.”
Mt. Blue (2-3), which played without Nate Backus (concussion), dropped its third straight game and will need to close the season strong for a chance to defend its Class B state title.
Andrew Pratt, who played despite a nagging knee injury, completed 10 of 21 passes for 164 yards and a touchdown for the Cougars, who trailed 21-7 at the half before rallying to make things interesting. Pratt also rushed for a touchdown.
Cam Abbott had five catches for 105 yards and a touchdown for Mt. Blue. He also threw a touchdown pass.
“The great thing about him is that I wish I had three of him,” Parlin said of Abbott. “They can really focus on him but he still made plays.”
The teams were tied 7-7 when Brunswick took over with a pair of quick-strike touchdowns late in the second quarter.
Larson hit Lucas McCue for a 65-yard touchdown pass with 6:22 left in the quarter on a well-placed throw over a defender.
“We ran the play to perfection,” Larson said. “We practiced it all week. I came out and rolled out and had to throw it on the run. It was a big play.”
The score came right after the Cougars tied it at 7-7 when Abbott threw a 19-yard touchdown pass to Kindle Bonsall.
The Dragons went ahead 21-7 when Bessey rushed for an 8-yard touchdown with 44 seconds left in the second quarter. Ryan Maciejewski set up the drive when he intercepted Pratt at the Brunswick 40-yard line.
Larson then hit Bessey for a 45-yard pass to set the Dragons up at the Mt. Blue 15-yard line.
“We had a few big plays that helped us out a lot,” Cooper said.
Mt. Blue responded in the third quarter, with Pratt throwing a 37-yard touchdown pass to Abbott to make it a 21-14 game.
Abbott out-jumped Brunswick corner Taran Payne on the play to make an excellent grab down the sideline.
But the Dragons responded with a nine-play, 61-yard drive, which Bessey capped with a 9-yard touchdown run.
“I knew I had to play the whole game because we didn’t have a lot of running backs,” he said. “I just wanted to make some plays. It is such a huge win for us.”
Pratt would later rush for a 4-yard score, but the Cougars would get no closer.
“We win the last three we go to playoffs,” Parlin said. “You win two of the last three you have to start looking for help.”
Bill Stewart — 621-5640