GARDINER — Hampden Academy rode its big offensive line to a second half victory Friday night against Gardiner as the Pine Tree Conference Class B rivals battled for playoff position in the rain at Hoch Field.

Hampden quarterback Matt Martin scored his third touchdown of the night with 49 seconds left to play to lift the Broncos to a 19-13 win.

Hampden is 4-1 while Gardiner falls to 3-2.

“We weren’t going to throw at all,” Martin said. “So we decided we needed to pound them up the middle.”

The Tigers scored on their opening kickoff when sophomore Brad Weston fielded a kick in front of the deep men and rumbled 75 yards down the right sideline. The Broncos recovered a fumble on Gardiner’s first possession and drove 24 yards to tie the score at 7-7 with Martin going over from 4 yards out.

That’s the way the half ended thanks to a goal-line stand by Hampden late in the second quarter. The Broncos held the Tigers on three straight rushing plays from their own 2-yard line, stopping Steve Sirois for no gain on fourth down.

“The kids wanted to go for it, but it’s my call,” said Gardiner coach Matt Burgess, who has a good field goal kicker in Dennis Meehan. “We try to develop that belief in one another but we need to convert those things.”

The Broncos took the second-half kickoff and drove 55 yards for the score with Logan Steward and Martin sharing the load. Martin scored on a fourth down play from the 6 for the score.

“I’ve got a couple of big boys on my line, so I was just saying ‘Get your blocks up there and I’m going to go as far as I can.’ We’ve got one guy, we call him Bear, he goes about three bills.”

Steward rushed for 138 yards on 29 carries while Martin finished with 65 yards on 15 carries.

The Broncos tried an onside kick following the touchdown and Gardiner recovered at midfield. A run by Sirois and 15-yard personal foul penalty brought the ball to the Hampden 27. Meehan capped the short drive when he rolled out to pass, found an opening and ran in from the 7. His extra point attempt went wide, leaving the score at 13-all.

The Tigers had little success against Hampden’s big line. Meehan rushed for 48 yards and completed three passes for 51 while Sirois rushed for 41. The Broncos put the game away with a seven-minute drive that began at their own 22.

“Their offensive line played very well and they controlled the ball the whole second half,” Burgess said.

Steward gained 67 yards in the drive as it was evident the defense was wearing down.

“We’re starting 10 guys two ways,” Burgess said.

Martin capped the drive with a 2-yard run in which he fumbled the ball, picked it up and stretched over the goal line.

Gary Hawkins — 621-5638

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