GARDINER — The Mt. Blue football team wanted a test after beating its first three opponents rather convincingly. The Cougars wanted a game in which their starters would play into and through the fourth quarter, something they haven’t done since last season.

Mt. Blue got one Friday night in a hard-fought 21-16 win over Gardiner in an important Pine Tree Conference Class B game at Hoch Field.

“We needed this,” Mt. Blue coach Gary Parlin. “It wasn’t easy, but this is good for us. We really needed a game like this.”

The Cougars (4-0) scored on their first offensive play from scrimmage, a 32-yard touchdown run from Cam Abbott just 17 seconds into the game. They then opened the second half with an 80-yard drive that Bradley Jackson capped with a 1-yard touchdown run to help give Mt. Blue a 21-7 lead.

From there, the Cougars spent the rest of the game fending off the resilient Tigers (3-1), who struggled to put together sustained drives but nonetheless were in position to win the game late.

“We couldn’t put a drive together in the fourth quarter,” Gardiner coach Matt Burgess said. “Part of our plan was to keep the ball away from them. But we were able to slow them down.”

Chad Luker led Mt. Blue with 86 yards on 10 carries. Abbott rushed for 55 yards and a touchdown on two carries. He also caught seven passes from Jordan Whitney for 89 yards and a touchdown.

Whitney completed 9 of 13 passes for 108 yards. He also threw an interception.

“It’s a huge win,” Abbott said. “We wanted to come out and show that we are a good football team. We hadn’t played much competition so this was our first big test.”

The Cougars passed, if only barely. They opened up a 14-0 lead midway through the first quarter thanks to a pair of scores from Abbott. After he rushed for the 32-yard score, Abbott then caught a 12-yard touchdown pass on a slant with about four minutes left in the quarter.

“We wanted to come out with a bang,” Abbott said.

But the Tigers didn’t go away.

Senior Steve Sirois hauled in a 15-yard touchdown pass from Dennis Meehan with 10 minutes, 20 seconds left in the second quarter. Meehan booted the extra point to cut the deficit in half, 14-7.

Mt. Blue again pushed its lead to two scores — 21-7 — on Bradley’s touchdown plunge early in the third quarter before the Tigers made it interesting.

Meehan kicked a 21-yard field goal before Sirois rushed for a 4-yard touchdown run to help Gardiner pull within 21-16 late in the third.

The Tigers, however, gained just 8 yards in the fourth quarter.

“We just couldn’t get something going,” Burgess said.

Sirois finished with just 17 yards on 13 carries to go along with his touchdown reception. Meehan completed 6 of 13 passes for 78 yards and a touchdown. Seth Wing led the Tigers with 36 yards on nine carries.

“There were two good defenses out there,” Parlin said. “We needed that four-quarter game and I’m glad we got one.”

Bill Stewart — 621-5640

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