BRUNSWICK — While the Cony High School football team’s offense will get, and deserves, a lot of credit for the team’s unprececedented success this season, the Rams’ defense came up big in the team’s 48-38 win over Brunswick in the Pine Tree Conference Class B championship game on Friday night.
“We played tough,” Cony linebacker Reid Shostak said. “We played tough.”
Three times, the Rams stopped Brunswick on a fourth and short play. The first came early in the second quarter, when the Dragons had fourth down and 2 from the Cony 5-yard line. The Rams knocked Lucas McCue for a 6-yard loss, keeping the game tied at 14-14.
“We really needed it. We came through when we needed it most in those fourth down situations,” Cony defensive lineman Marshall McLaughlin said.
Ahead 28-24 at the half, Cony’s next big fourth down play came on Brunswick’s first possession of the second half. Facing fourth and 2 from its own 39, Brunwick went for it. Again, McCue was stopped, this time a yard short.
The Rams took over on their own 40, and five plays later, Ben Lucas hit Tayler Carrier for a 28-yard touchdown pass, and a double digit lead.
In the final minutes of the third quarter, Brunswick faced another fourth and short situation, again on its own side of the field. This time, fourth and 1 from its own 41, Brunswick went with quarterback Brady Larson over the right side of the line. He was stopped for no gain.
Again, Cony turned the excellent field position into quick points. John Bennett took a short Lucas pass, broke a tackle at the 20-yard line, and went 35 yards for a touchdown and a 42-24 lead.
The Rams made some small adjustments at the half, McLaughlin said, and those in turn helped the short yardage defense.
“We started slanting a little bit. We started realizing their guard pulls, and we adjusted. It just worked out,” McLaughlin said.
“We made a couple adjustments at halftime, and our kids just did a nice job executing,” Cony head coach Robby Vachon said.
Brunswick head coach Dan Cooper said the choice to go for it in those situations, rather than punt, was easy. The Dragons hadn’t stopped the Rams offense, so Cooper felt his team needed to try and retain control of the ball.
“We just felt at that point, we hadn’t had a lot of success stopping them, whether it was a short or long field. We just felt they were going to score anyways, so we had to go for it,” Cooper said. “A couple of things we wanted to do we didn’t get done. Some of it was my error and some of it was just good play by (Cony).”