GARDINER — It’s been five long years since the history-rich Skowhegan football team last extended its season into the playoffs.
The Indians are oh-so-close to snapping that slide.
Kaleb Brown rushed for three touchdowns and Adam Clukey completed 10 of 12 passes for 185 yards and two scores to help Skowhegan sink Gardiner 58-0 in a Pine Tree Conference Class B game Friday night at Hoch Field.
“We pretty much did anything we wanted,” said Clukey, who threw first-quarter touchdown passes to DJ Allen and Brett Gilbert. “We aired it out and we got the ground game going. We’re just hungry. We’ve been close the last few years but it’s coming together now.”
Skowhegan won its second straight game and improved to 4-3. It will close the season Friday against rival Mt. Blue in a pivotal PTC B game for both teams.
“Getting back to the playoffs is one of our main goals,” Skowhegan coach Matt Friedman said. “We want to be a playoff team.”
The Indians looked like one Friday. They raced out to a 30-0 lead in the first quarter and never looked back.
Gardiner, which didn’t record a first down until the second half and was held to just 146 yards of offense, dropped to 0-7.
Brown opened the scoring with a 12-yard rush just 1 minute, 13 seconds into the game. Clukey completed the 2-point conversion pass to Ben Salley and the Indians were up 8-0.
Clukey threw a 27-yard touchdown pass to Allen about six minutes into the quarter to cap an 11-play, 61-yard drive.
“They were stacking the line so we had some guys open,” Clukey said.
The Indians put the game out of reach with two touchdowns in the final 35 seconds of the quarter.
Clukey hit Gilbert for a 44-yard scoring strike down the far sideline. Gilbert got behind the secondary and Clukey hit him in stride.
“Both touchdown throws were over the top,” Clukey said.
The Tigers failed to recover the ensuing kickoff, and the Indians capitalized when Brown rushed for a 3-yard touchdown as time expired in the quarter.
“The passing game really helped open up the run,” said Brown, who rushed for 84 yards on 12 carries. “It felt good. Everything was working.”
Brown would later add a 1-yard scoring run.
Gardiner struggled to move the ball for much of the game, although Eli Fish threw a nice 41-yard pass to Jake Truman early in the third quarter. The completion set the Tigers up at the Skowhegan 10-yard line but they would move the ball just 3 yards in four plays.
Brad Weston rushed for 52 yards on 13 carries to lead the Tigers, who were shut out for the fourth time this season.
Salley rushed for 58 yards on eight carries while Gilbert had two catches for 52 yards to pace Skowhegan.