OAKLAND — For a few minutes in the third quarter, it appeared as if the Messalonskee football team would pull off a dramatic comeback against Marshwood.
The Eagles had grabbed the momentum and trailed by just a touchdown after falling behind by three scores in the first quarter. But that momentum was short-lived. The Hawks got a defensive stop and went back to their punishing ground game en route to a 40-19 victory.
The win leaves the defending Western Class B champions at 4-1. Messalonskee is 2-3.
“I thought we made some progress tonight,” Marshwood coach Alex Rotsko said. “Messalonskee’s a pretty solid football team. I thought we controlled play but we had way too many penalties and we made some plays we shouldn’t have.”
Sophomore Zach Doyon made a stunning debut at running back after being converted from tight end, finishing with 147 yards on 17 carries while scoring two touchdowns. Junior Brett Gerry was a perfect complement to Doyon, rushing for 87 yards and three scores.
“We played a good game until the last nine minutes,” Messalonskee coach Brad Bishop said. “What really hurt were out first two possessions of the game. We fumbled our first possession of the game and the next kickoff we fumbled that. That’s 14 points.”
Doyon and Gerry each scored before quarterback Luc Blanchette hit Noah Kreider with a 35-yard pass to make it 18-0 with three minutes left in the first quarter.
“I think we’re taking baby steps but we’re definitely making progress,” Blanchette said.
The Eagles dug themselves out of their hole behind quarterback Jake Dexter and receiver Zach Mathieu. The pair hooked up for scoring passes of 46 and 21 yards in the first half, with Mathieu getting two great blocks along the sideline to spring him for the 46-yarder. Messalonskee trailed 25-13 at the half, but the defense stuffed the Hawks on their first two possessions of the second half.
“We gave them heck, that’s all,” Bishop said. “We told our linebackers to step up into the hole.”
The Eagles cut the lead to 25-19 behind Corey McKenzie, who capped a short drive with a five-yard sweep for a score. The senior running back finished with 92 yards on 19 carries. Dexter completed four passes for 92 yards but was intercepted twice in the second half.
“That’s a very good team,” Bishop said. “That’s what I aspire to be like. Everyone of those kids from Marshwood that comes into the game is 100 miles an hour. They execute, they run hard, they block to the whistle.”