SKOWHEGAN — With the passing of Ben Lucas and the running of Reid Shostak, there have been few things to criticize about Cony’s offense. The Rams have not been as consistently successful on defense. That’s why Friday night’s game was so important.
Against a Skowhegan team that can both run and throw effectively, the Rams allowed 296 yards and 18 first downs. But more importantly, they were able to clamp down when it counted, and Cony walked away with a 31-12 Pine Tree Conference Class B victory at Clark Field.
“I thought we played pretty well defensively, except for a few missed tackles in the first half,” Cony coach Robby Vachon said. “I think our kids were really physical. They took our scheme to the field this week, and I think they executed. We did a nice job of keeping them from making any real big, big plays.”
Skowhegan (2-3) was playing short-handed. Kaleb Brown ran for 20 yards on his first carry, then was injured the next time he got the ball and did not return. Brett Gilbert handled the bulk of the Indians running game and finished with 94 yards on 20 carries and a pair of 1-yard touchdown plunges.
“Kaleb’s always a big part (of our offense),” Skowhegan coach Matt Friedman said. “Especially where we were able to move the ball on the ground, I think with him in there, it would have made us that much more dynamic.
“He got hit pretty hard in the head area. The trainer felt like he had some dizziness and didn’t want to take any chances — and we don’t want to, either.”
Lucas completed 17 of 30 passes for 196 yards, with three touchdowns and one interception. Tayler Carrier, Lucas’ usual favorite target, was questionable for the game but caught five passes for 54 yards and a touchdown. Carrier left the game after hopping off the field on one leg after a catch in the third quarter.
A 16-yard touchdown pass from Lucas to Carrier gave Cony a 7-0 lead in the first quarter, but Skowhegan came back with Gilbert’s first touchdown to make it 7-6. Cony then drove 64 yards for a score, converting a fourth-and-9 along the way. On fourth-and-6 from the Skowhegan 18-yard line, Lucas hit Jonathan Saban for the touchdown.
After Kevin Kingsbury booted a 23-yard field goal, Skowhegan went 53 yards in 63 seconds to the Cony 20. On the last play of the half, quarterback Adam Clukey’s pass was intercepted by Anthony Brunelle, who juggled the ball and then returned the ball about 90 yards before Clukey made the tackle as time ran out.
In the second half, Cony (4-1) continued to mix Lucas passes with Shostak runs. Working mostly between the tackles, Shostak carried 21 times for 104 yards and a touchdown.
“They were in a three-man front, and just kind of wanting us to run the football,” Vachon said. “They were really focusing on not letting us get over the top on them. That’s what they gave us, and that we tried to take advantage of.”
The second half was quiet until Mitchell Bonenfant made a diving interception to stop a Skowhegan drive. On Cony’s next possession, John Bennett dropped a swing pass from Lucas, then went deep on the next play and was left unattended as Lucas hit him for 61 yards and a 23-6 lead.
Skowhegan quickly drove to the Cony 15, but lost the ball on downs. Gilbert then returned a punt 27 yards to set up his own 1-yard touchdown run midway through the fourth quarter. After Bonenfant recovered Skowhegan’s onside kick, the Rams ran out the clock until Shostak scored from the 7 with 1:21 to play.
“I think we played them pretty well,” Friedman said. “I was pretty happy with my defense. We had a lapse in the first half, and we had one in the second half. That was two touchdowns. Other than that, I think it was a pretty tight ballgame.”
Matt DiFilippo — 861-9243