SKOWHEGAN — Throughout the regular season, the Skowhegan Area High School football team won games via the shootout. The Indians scored a lot, but they gave up a lot of points, too.

In the playoffs, though, Skowhegan has been a defensive juggernaut. After holding Brewer to 13 points in a Pine Tree Conference semifinal game last week, Skowhegan saved its best defensive effort of the season for Friday’s final, bearing Lawrence 23-0 on a cold night at Clark Field. Wind chill at kickoff was 7 degrees.

This is Skowhegan’s first conference title since winning the PTC A in 2008. Skowhegan will play the winner of the Class B South final between Falmouth and Marshwood in the Class B state game next Saturday at Fitzpatrick Stadium in Portland.

“We were winning games and still getting a ton of criticism because of how we played defense,” Skowhegan head coach Ryan Libby said. “We just kept working at it, week in and week out at practice, and we came out here on Friday nights and do what we’ve got to do to win.”

“It really doesn’t feel real right now,” quarterback Marcus Christopher said. “We’ve just put in so much work to get to this point. It’s hard to believe we’re going to the state game.”

Ahead 7-0 at the half, Skowhegan scored nine points in the third quarter to put the game out of reach. With 7:34 left in the quarter, Jon Bell caught a quick pass from Christopher and went 70 yards for a score, staking the Indians to a 14-0 lead. A few minutes later, a Skowhegan safety made it 16-0.

Skowhegan scored again with 9:44 to play, when Hunter Washburn caught a Christopher pass out of the backfield and went 17 yards for a 23-0 lead.

Skowhegan scored the only touchdown of the first half with 4:31 left in the first quarter. Washburn ran 15 yards, breaking a tackle to find the end zone. Bell’s kick made it 7-0.

The Indians had a chance to increase their lead in the second quarter, driving to the Lawrence 1, but a fumble ended the drive.

After stopping Lawrence’s last drive at their own 20, Skowhegan ran out the final 8:05 of the game. Washburn finished with 81 yards on 24 carries, while Sean Savage added 58 yards rushing.

Christopher threw for 302 yards. Bell had six catches for 143 yards.

“We were just trying to get the ball to our athletes like we have all year long,” Christopher said. “Bell and (Cameron) Barnes, especially, Savage came up huge tonight. They made huge plays.”

After running for 200 yards in the first game against Skowhegan, a 58-56 Indians win, Lawrence’s Isaiah Schooler was held to six yards on 11 carries.

“I definitely didn’t expect 56-58, so, yeah, I was looking more for this type of a score,” Libby said. “It could have been a lot easier on us on the sideline had we punched some more in early, but I was really proud of the kids… They came out here and fought a tough game in the freezing cold.”