READFIELD — In his post-game speech Friday night, Maranacook senior captain Jesse Evans praised his teammates for the way they staved off a late charge from two-time defending Class C state champion Yarmouth.

Evans was a major factor in the game himself, rushing for three touchdowns and 99 yards in leading the Black Bears to a 22-21 win. He also intercepted a pass to help Maranacook stay unbeaten in Class C Campbell Conference play at 3-0.

The Black Bears led 22-7 entering the fourth quarter but the momentum changed on one play as Matthew Klepinger scored on a double hand-off on the first play from 66 yards out. The Clippers (1-2) would pound in another score with 3 minutes, 18 seconds left to play but missed the conversion attempt.

“I think we kind of fell apart,” Evans said. “The guys were getting tired. I told them in the huddle ‘guys, just dig deep’ and everybody did their job.”

The Clippers are not the same team that won back-to-back state titles, but quarterback Brady Neujahr returns for his third year as a starter and they have several quick backs.

“They’re young but they’re improving every game,” Maranacook coach Joe Emery said. “I hope we don’t have to play them if they make the playoffs.”

The first half belonged to the Black Bears, thanks to the running of Evans and two big defensive plays. Zach Bessette turned in the first one after quarterback Caleb Castonguay’s pass was intercepted by Neujahr. Bessette stuck him with a hard tackle, forced a fumble and recovered it himself.

“We’re all coming together as a team,” Bessette said. “We’ve been playing together for awhile.”

Evans capped the short drive with a 3-yard run and Castonguay rushed the conversion to make it 8-0. Later in the quarter junior Logan Emery intercepted Neujahr’s pass at midfield and returned it to the Yarmouth 8. Evans broke some tackles in the backfield and scored on the next play.

Another key defensive play, this one a fumble recovery at the Yarmouth 16 by senior lineman Jalen Thompson, set up Maranacook’s third touchdown. Again, Evans ran through a couple of tackles after it looked as if he’d be thrown for a loss, and scored on the ensuing play.

“I was always taught to go 110 percent every time,” he said. “Just because some guy has you it doesn’t mean you’re stopped.”

The Clippers cut the lead to 22-21 on a 13-yard run from Matt Woodbury but Klepinger was stuffed by a host of tacklers as he tried to sweep wide for the conversion. Woodbury rushed for 98 yards while Klepinger had 86 and Thomas Lord 78.

Gary Hawkins — 621-5638

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