WALES — Parker Asselin took the snap, stepped to his right and witnessed a quarterback’s dream scenario as chaos unfolded around him.
“The corner bit,” the Oak Hill senior quarterback said. “Alex (Mace) was wide open, and he doesn’t drop passes. He’s built for pressure situations. I was like, â€˜Oh, boy, this is a touchdown if I can just get it to him.’ “
Asselin did get it to him, throwing a 37-yard touchdown strike with 1 minute, 29 seconds left in the fourth quarter that pulled No. 2 Oak Hill into a tie with No. 3 Lisbon in a wild Western D Campbell Conference semifinal Saturday afternoon.
Adam Merrill calmly booted the extra point before Ryan Stevens intercepted Lisbon quarterback Kyle Bourget in the waning seconds to give Oak Hill a pulsating 21-20 victory.
“It was an emotional game,” Oak Hill coach Stacen Doucette said. “The game swayed for both teams multiple times. Both teams made plays.”
Oak Hill (8-2) made the last one and will host No. 4 Dirigo (7-3) in the conference championship game at 12:30 p.m. Saturday. Oak Hill will host its first conference championship game since 1984.
No. 3 Lisbon, which scored two touchdowns in a six-minute span late in the fourth quarter to go ahead 20-14, finished 7-3.
“Both teams came to play,” Lisbon coach Dick Mynahan said. “They made the plays when they had to.”
Asselin completed 5 of 8 passes for 88 yards and two touchdowns — both to Mace. However, he only had two completions when the Raiders took over on their 40-yard line with 2:26 remaining and Lisbon ahead 20-14.
“We still had time left,” Asselin said. “When we got in the huddle, we all just said we need to take this down and score. As long as you believe, crazy things can happen.”
Asselin first hit big tight end Luke Washburn for a 10-yard gain that brought the Raiders to midfield. Mace then hauled in a nice catch on the near sideline for a 13-yard completion.
“We knew we still had time and that everyone had to pull through,” Mace said. “When we got back to the huddle we went with a play that we practice all the time.”
Asselin took the direct snap and found a wide-open Mace down the far sideline for the go-ahead score. The touchdown touched off a wild celebration, although the teams were just tied 20-20.
Merrill, a junior, then drilled the extra point and rushed to the Oak Hill sideline, his arms raised skyward.
“It was exhilarating,” he said. “I think that’s the first pressure kick I’ve had. I’ve made 20 others, but none like that one.”
Lisbon, which received a boost with the return of senior standout Quincy Thompson (elbow), received the ensuing kickoff and started on its 32-yard line. Bourget found Jordon Torres for a 10-yard gain, threw an incomplete pass and then lofted the ball into the hands of Stevens, which all but ended the game.
“When the ball was in the air, I just kept thinking that I needed to make a play,” Stevens said. “Then I was like, â€˜Don’t drop it.’ I wanted to go for a touchdown but then figured going down was just as great.”
Thompson rushed for a 73-yard touchdown nearly five minutes into the game to give the Greyhounds a 6-0 lead. It stayed that way until Asselin threw a 17-yard touchdown floater to Mace with 10:19 left in the second quarter. Merrill kicked the extra point to give Oak Hill a 7-6 lead.
The Raiders pushed the lead to 14-7 when Asselin plowed into the end zone from a yard out on the first play of the fourth quarter.
But that’s when the Greyhounds rallied. Thompson sparked the comeback when he rushed for a 20-yard gain on a fake punt from the Lisbon 20-yard line. Thompson then finished the 14-play drive with a 1-yard touchdown run. The two-point conversion failed but Lisbon was within 14-12.
“We just had to stick to our game plan,” Doucette said. “We needed to make a few more plays.”
Lisbon surged ahead, however, when it recovered a Kyle Flaherty fumble with under six minutes to play. Fullback Joe Philbrick then rushed for an 8-yard touchdown with 2:26 remaining. The Greyhounds rushed for the two-point conversion to take a 20-14 lead.
“We knew we weren’t done,” Asselin said. “We knew we had time to go out and make a few more plays, and that’s what we did. It’s just incredible.”
Added Mace, who also rushed for a team-high 81 yards: “It’s just amazing. We’ll remember this for the rest of our lives. This is the best feeling in the world.”