GARDINER — The Gardiner and Leavitt football teams sloshed, slipped and slid their way up and down the mud swamp that was Hoch Field on Friday night.

With a steady rain providing treacherous footing, the conditions were set for a defensive struggle.

And that’s just what it was — until junior running back Conor O’Malley snapped a scoreless game with a 70-yard touchdown run with three minutes left to give Leavitt a 6-0 Pine Tree Conference Class B victory in the regular-season finale for both teams.

“The blocking was great,” O’Malley said. “We couldn’t run the option because it was wet so we decided to run it down the middle.”

It worked, at least on the one play that ultimately decided the game.

“It was a great game,” Gardiner coach Matt Burgess said. “It was two defensive teams slugging it out. One play made the difference. We had a few kids miss some tackles and (O’Malley) is a good tailback.”

The score came after a timeout, and Leavitt coach Mike Hathaway said he originally called for a passing play but then changed his mind.

“We changed our mind with the personnel we had on the field,” said Hathway, whose team improved to 7-1. “In a game like this, one score was probably going to be good enough. We figured we were going to overtime.”

O’Malley finished with 106 rushing yards on eight carries. Senior playmaker Brian Bedard, who lined up at quarterback, receiver and tailback for the Hornets, rushed for 78 yards on 13 carries.

Steve Sirois rushed for 86 yards on 18 carries for the Tigers (5-3), who lost their third straight game at Hoch Field.

Gardiner senior quarterback Dennis Meehan completed 5 of 15 passes for 82 yards. He also rushed for 21 yards.

“It was tough to move the ball tonight,” Burgess said. “Both offenses struggled a bit.”

The Tigers never drove inside the Leavitt 45-yard line during the second half. They had opportunities in the first half.

They got to the Leavitt 28-yard line on their first possession of the second quarter, but an O’Malley sack on fourth down killed the drive.

The Tigers again got deep in Leavitt territory late in the second quarter, this time to the 30, but couldn’t convert before the clock expired in the half.

“We had some chances but it was tough,” Burgess said. “It was a defensive game.”

Bill Stewart — 621-5640

[email protected]

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