GARDINER — Cony High School senior Brandon St. Michel took the handoff, picked a hole to go through and bolted to the end zone.

It’s how he scored not one, not two, but three of his four touchdowns Friday night at Hoch Field, where Cony cruised to a 26-15 victory over Gardiner in 135th meeting between the two rivals.

“I don’t even know what to say,” St. Michel said. “I’m overwhelmed. It’s huge. We wanted this one badly.”

The Rams got it thanks to an opportunistic offense and a tough defensive effort. St Michel rushed for a game-high 107 yards — 88 in the second half — on 15 carries.

Junior quarterback Ben Lucas completed 13 of his 25 passes for 147 yards to lead the Rams, who lead the all-time series 68-57-10.

“I thought our defense was spectacular,” Cony coach Robby Vachon said. “And Brandon was just a warrior. We knew we had a good back coming back, but he came out strong. He constantly kept his feet moving.”

Gardiner senior quarterback Dennis Meehan threw for 101 yards and rushed for 56 more. He also kicked a 30-yard field goal late in the first quarter to give Gardiner a 3-0 lead.

“It’s very frustrating because we worked so hard,” Meehan said. “Last year, they had the passing game and this year they ran right over us.”

St. Michel ran for his first touchdown on the first play of the second quarter, a 3-yard rush up the gut that capped a five-play, 52-yard drive. The touchdown and ensuing extra point by Zach Lachance gave Cony a 7-3 lead.

The Rams, who committed nine penalties and had a costly turnover early in the first quarter in the red zone, surged ahead 13-3 when St. Michel again rushed for a 4-yard touchdown with 2:17 left in the second quarter.

“I had a lot of holes to choose from,” he said, “and all I had to do was punch it in. I had multiple options.”

St. Michel and the Rams nearly put the game out of the reach when they drove 53 yards in 11 plays early in the fourth quarter.

St. Michel rushed for a 1-yard touchdown to cap the drive to give Cony a 26-9 lead.

“We just kept pounding it,” Lucas said.

Added Vachon: “I think we let them off the hook a bit in the first half. We played really well in the second, but they kept it closer than I would’ve liked.”

Indeed, Gardiner didn’t go quietly.

Meehan threw a 50-yard touchdown pass to Frank Chepke late in the third. Meehan then rushed for a 14-yard touchdown in the fourth.

“We still didn’t make the plays when we got the opportunities,” Chepke said. “That was the big thing. When we were presented with opportunities, we couldn’t get it in the end zone.”

Bill Stewart — 621-5640
[email protected]

 

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