AUGUSTA — It started just the way the Cony High School football team would have hoped.

But first, Falmouth wouldn’t go away. Then, the Yachtsmen couldn’t be stopped.

Falmouth bounced back from a hot start by the Rams to take an eight-point lead into halftime, then built on the advantage with an unrelenting ground game en route to a 41-19 win at Alumni Field in the season opener Friday night.

“We had a lot of momentum in the first half, went up 13-7,” Cony coach B.L. Lippert said. “In the second half, I think we just kind of wore down. … It was great to be competitive for a half, but we have to kind of clean up those mistakes, and I thought we got a little dejected there.”

Quarterback Jack Bryant ran for three touchdowns for Falmouth, and carried 24 times for 123 yards. The trio of Bryant, Riley Reed (nine carries, 107 yards) and Garrett Aube (nine carries, 39 yards) ran 42 times for 269 yards.

“They were a little more physical than maybe I thought on film,” Lippert said. “They looked like they were a pretty decent team, but alive and in color they were pretty physical, and that quarterback is a really talented player.”

The Rams, relying almost exclusively on screen passes and rollout passes from Anthony Sousa (19-of-43, 225 yards), took a pair of first-half leads and got excellent efforts from Elijah Dutil (six catches, 101 yards, two touchdowns) and Jordan Roddy (seven catches, 91 yards, touchdown).

But Falmouth went into the break with a 21-13 lead, and Cony couldn’t halt the Yachtsmen’s attack in the second half. Bryant wove through for a 7-yard score on the first possession, putting Falmouth ahead 28-13, and Falmouth’s next drive resulted in a 5-yard score by Bryant and a 34-13 lead with 58 seconds left in the third quarter.

“We feel like we just keep getting stronger as the game goes on,” Bryant said. “A lot of people see us as a passing team, so I think it was great to have that running effort, and the O-line blocked great tonight. The holes were huge.”

Roddy’s twisting, acrobatic catch on an 18-yard reception with 6:46 to go made it 34-19 and kept hopes alive, but Reed ran 8 yards for a score with 1:52 to go to round out the scoring.

The Rams took command early, but couldn’t come up with stops to capitalize on their momentum. After Falmouth turned the ball over on downs in Cony territory on its first possession, the Rams marched back the other way, going 71 yards in 12 plays and taking a 7-0 lead when Sousa lofted a pass toward the left corner of the end zone to Dutil, who beat his coverage and hauled in the score with 4:16 left in the quarter.

The lead was gone in minutes. A trio of runs brought the Yachtsmen from their own 18 to the Cony 38, and Reed — who sparked the drive with a 22-yard run — ripped off another through the Rams defense for a touchdown, making it 7-7 with 2:44 left in the quarter.

The Rams countered with a dose of trickery. After recovering a punt that glanced off a Falmouth player, Cony ignited the crowd when, on 3rd-and-4 from his own 49, Sousa tossed the ball back left to Reed Hopkins for what seemed to be a bubble screen. Hopkins instead fired the ball down the sideline to a wide-open Dutil, who hauled in the pass and went in for the score and a 13-7 lead with 10:38 left in the half.

Again, the Yachtsmen recovered. Falmouth went from its own 43 to the Cony 36 in four plays, and Bryant hit Reed over the middle for a touchdown and the Yachtsmen’s first lead at 14-13 with 8:14 to go. Cony turned the ball over on downs on its next series and Falmouth struck again, gauging the Rams on the ground before Bryant scored on a keeper from 17 yards out with 2:20 to go.

Cony appeared poised to go into the locker room with a share of the lead when Roddy returned the ensuing kickoff 33 yards to the Cony 49 and the Rams brought the ball down to the Falmouth 1, but the drive resulted only in a missed opportunity. Roddy was stuffed on a sweep and a Sousa pass was incomplete, prompting a pass interference call but leaving only 0.4 seconds on the clock. Roddy was stopped again on a try up the middle, leaving the Rams with nothing but the same eight-point deficit to overcome in the second half.

“It’s huge. We’ve had it before, we score there and it’s just a huge bit of momentum to cut it to 21-20,” Lippert said. “We really thought we’d get in. … (Roddy) couldn’t get his feet going to kind of take a plunge over the top to try to get into the end zone. Probably out-coached there on the goal line, I take the blame for that.”

Drew Bonifant — 621-5638

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Twitter: @dbonifantMTM