SKOWHEGAN — New Skowhegan football coach Matt Friedman installed a pass-oriented offense. Two people who certainly embrace the new system are junior quarterback Adam Clukey and senior wide receiver Grant Benson.

It won’t always end so perfectly for the Indians, but for one game, the new style produced explosiveness and excitement, all in an unforgettable night. With the score tied, Clukey hit Benson with an 18-yard touchdown pass with 10.9 seconds left, giving Skowhegan a 22-16 victory over Oxford Hills on Friday night in the season opener for both teams.

“It was awesome,” Clukey said. “We finally get to pass. It’s a lot of fun. I actually feel like a quarterback now.”

Clukey completed 16 of 26 passes for 219 yards, with three touchdowns and two interceptions. Benson caught seven balls for 150 yards and two of those touchdowns. Senior Tyler Savage added 120 yards rushing on 19 carries for the Indians.

“I kind of had a showboat thing, and I apologize for that,” Benson said. “I got really excited when we won the game. It was just awesome.”

Skowhegan mainly controlled the first half, scoring in the first quarter when Clukey hit Allen with a 7-yard pass, and going up 8-0 when Savage ran in the two-point conversion. With just 42.6 seconds left in the half, Skowhegan made it 16-0. Clukey threw deep down the right sideline to Benson, who gathered it in for a 53-yard scoring strike. Clukey then threw to Ben Salley for the two-point conversion.

Oxford Hills didn’t really make any noise until midway through the fourth quarter. Clukey tried a third-down pass, and Davis Turner intercepted and returned it 36 yards to the Skowhegan 12. Three plays later, Malik Geiger dove in from a yard out, and the two-point conversion made it 16-8.

The fired-up Vikings then forced Skowhegan into a third-and-14 situation. Clukey fielded a bad snap and threw on the run to his right. Nick Bowie stepped in front and picked it off at the 38, then went all the way for the touchdown. When Geiger rushed in the conversion, the game was tied at 16 with 2:26 left in the third quarter.

Clukey bounced back after the interceptions, and Friedman had no problem giving him that chance.

“I would say this,” Friedman said, “the first interception was a tipped ball; the second one was a bad call by me. So it’s not his fault. And the beauty of Adam is, he does have a short memory. He’s not going to let that bother him.”

Somewhat lost in the fireworks was that Skowhegan’s defense made some big plays. Oxford Hills drove inside the Skowhegan 40 four times without scoring, and two of those drives were blown up by sacks from Ben Clement and Kaleb Brown.

“Defense played great all night,” Friedman said. “Offensively, Oxford Hills made some adjustments. We had to make some adjustments, but our guys stepped up. We’re short-handed. We had guys who played both ways the whole game tonight, and they did a great job on fumes.”

Matt DiFilippo — 861-9243

[email protected]


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