OAKLAND — Neither the Messalonskee nor the Cony high school football teams are going to look back at Friday night’s season opener as a masterpiece. Each team came away knowing it has things to improve. But a defensive stand late in the fourth quarter, followed by a big fourth down conversion, gave Messalonskee a 21-19 win at Veterans Field.

With four minutes left and trailing by two points, Cony took over at its own 45-yard line. The Rams advanced to the Messalonskee 30 before quarterback Ben Lucas was sacked for a 13-yard loss on first down. After an incomplete pass, Lucas was intercepted by Jake Dexter at the 11-yard line.

Although Dexter lost control of the ball, officials ruled the ground caused the fumble, and Messalonskee retained possession.

With just over a minute to play, Messalonskee faced fourth-and-1 at its own 19. Quarterback Josh Woodard plowed for 3 yards and a first down, and the Eagles took a knee to run out the clock.

It was a sloppy game for both teams. Each had a pair of turnovers, and Messalonskee was whistled for five illegal motion penalties.

“We kind of shot ourselves in the foot a little bit. We can’t make mistakes in a tight game like this one,” Messalonskee coach Wes Littlefield said.

In the first quarter, it looked as if this game would follow the same script as the last two Messalonskee/Cony games, an Eagles rout. Cory MacKenzie ran 39 yards on Messalonskee’s first offensive play, and two plays later, scored on a 10-yard run.

On the final play of the first quarter, Corey Foye scored on a 9-yard run, giving Messalonskee a 14-0 lead. The Eagles ran for 282 yards, with 126 coming on those first two scoring drives.

“We just got beat outside a little bit (in the first quarter). They don’t usually run to the outside. It’s mostly off tackle. Our corners got pinched,” Cony coach Robby Vachon said. “It’s been our Achilles heel the last three years, not being able to stop the run, and we did a good job. I’m very proud of our kids, and how physical they were.”

Cony got on the board midway through the second quarter. After a Chandler Shostak interception gave the Rams the ball near midfield, Cony went 41 yards in eight plays, scoring when Lucas hit Dayshawn Roberts with a 4-yard touchdown pass.

The Rams cut Messalonskee’s lead to two, 14-12, when Shostak returned a punt 70 yards for a score early in the fourth quarter. The Eagles answered when Dexter returned the ensuing kick 50 yards to the Cony 35, setting up a 10-yard touchdown run by MacKenzie (22 carries for 149 yards) four plays later.

“Our offense answered right back with a nice drive. I was pretty happy with that, because sometimes in a game like that, you can lay down,” Littlefield said.

With 5:47 left in the game, Lucas connected with Brandon St. Michel for a 12-yard touchdown pass on a screen play. Lucas completed 20 of 42 passes for 190 yards, and was sacked three times and intercepted twice.

“You can’t let him have time, because he is a quarterback who will pick you apart,” said Messalonskee defensive tackle Jake Stinson, who helped apply pressure on Lucas all night.

Shostak had six catches for 50 yards, while Jonathan Saban had three catches for 70 yards.

Travis Lazarczyk — 861-9242
[email protected]

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