PORTLAND — They saved the best for last.

In a game that remained in question until Gavin Snapp intercepted a pass five yards from the end zone, Wells held off Leavitt 21-13 to win the Class B state football championship Saturday night at Fitzpatrick Stadium.

“We’ve worked so hard for this,” Snapp said. “This is all we wanted and we finally got it. It was a great game.”

Indeed, after blowout victories from Western Maine schools in Class A (Cheverus) and Class C (Yarmouth), the Class B contest provided drama and excitement throughout a chilly evening.

Wells (12-0), making its first appearance in the state title game since 1997, rallied from a 13-7 deficit entering the fourth quarter, largely because it lost two fumbles inside the 25 and muffed a punt.

“We drove the ball and we kept not getting in,” said Wells coach Tim Roche. “I was scared to death that we weren’t going to be able to do it.”

Wells tied the score at 13 when quarterback Paul McDonough rolled left and appeared hemmed in before cutting back inside for 10 yards and a touchdown early in the fourth quarter.

“We were in the wrong formation,” Roche said. “That was the wrong play when he scored. We had a kid in the wrong spot but (McDonough) still was able to make the play. That’s what he does.”

Joey Spinelli, who was a perfect 3-for-3 on point-after kicks, made it 14-13.

Leavitt (11-1) prevented an insurance touchdown by breaking up a fourth-down pass in the end zone with less than three minutes remaining, but McDonough appeared to secure the victory by intercepting a pass on the next play from scrimmage and returning it 26 yards to the 3.

His quarterback sneak from the 1 with 2:05 left, along with Spinelli’s kick, gave Wells an 8-point cushion, but Leavitt wasn’t done.

Hornets quarterback Jordan Hersom led a 2-minute offense down the field, helped by an improbable one-handed catch by Ian Durgin with two defenders hanging on him, to barely convert on fourth down (a measurement was required) near midfield.

A completion to Brian Bedard brought Leavitt inside the 30 with half a minute left in the game, but Snapp’s interception with 19 seconds remaining sealed the victory. One knee by McDonough and the Gold Ball belonged to Wells.

“All the doubters,” McDonough yelled to Roche afterward, “all doubters, gone!”

Leavitt had taken a 13-7 lead late in the third quarter on a 3-yard run by quarterback Jordan Hersom. The point-after kick fell short, however.

The game’s beginning signaled a sweep by Western Maine when the Warriors held Leavitt’s high-powered offense to a quick three-and-out on the opening drive, then needed only five plays from scrimmage to cover 59 yards and find the end zone.

The big play was a 46-yard pass from McDonough to Zach Deshaies, running a post pattern from the backside. From the 9, Louis DiTomasso (116 yards on 21 carries) burst over left guard, then bulled through two Leavitt defenders for the touchdown. Spinelli’s kick made it 7-0 with the game not quite four minutes old.

The Warriors looked to double their lead later in the quarter after DiTomasso broke a 52-yard run up the middle, but McDonough fumbled while being sacked and Leavitt’s Jake Posik recovered at the 23.

The third drive for Wells also extended inside the red zone, but also ended with a fumble. This time it was DiTomasso, trying to push for a few more yards after picking up a first down, who got stripped. Jack Griffin of Leavitt recovered at the 15.

The Hornets tied the score early in the second quarter. After calling time before a third down play near midfield, Leavitt executed a perfect reverse. Hersom and nine other Hornets ran left, drawing all kinds of Wells pursuit. Durgin headed right, took a pitch from Hersom and ran untouched until Doug McLean’s desperate dive at the goal line proved unsuccessful to prevent a 44-yard touchdown run.

Dustin Moore provided the extra-point kick to tie the score at 7.

“They hit the reverse,” Roche said. “We’re aggressive, but sometimes those things happen to us. We give up big plays. The question is, can we come back from that, and we did.”

Leavitt threatened to take the lead in the final minute of the first half after a Jake Ouellette draw from his own 9 resulted in a 51-yard gain. A 15-yard pass from Hersom to Bedard brought Leavitt to the 25 and within striking distance. Hersom took a shot at the end zone to Bedard, but Wells cornerback Spinelli leaped high for his fifth interception of the playoffs.

“That’s going to be forgotten in the scheme of things,” Roche said, “but that’s a huge play for us.”


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