GARDINER — Wins have been tough to come by for the Gardiner football team on its home field this season.

And there was nothing easy about the Tigers’ 26-14 playoff victory against Brewer at Hoch Field on Friday night. The Tigers dominated time of possession but had trouble scoring inside the 10-yard line and weren’t able to pull away until late in the fourth quarter when quarterback Dennis Meehan threw a 23-yard strike to Josh Moore in the end zone.

“It feels really good,” said Meehan, who also kicked a 30-yard field goal and returned an interception for 60 yards and a touchdown.

The fourth-seeded Tigers (6-3) advance to the Pine Tree Conference Class B semifinals to play No. 1 Mt. Blue next week in Farmington. No. 5 Brewer finishes at 5-4.

Senior tailback Steve Sirois rushed for 155 yards on 30 carries and a touchdown in the first half, while Meehan completed five passes for 74 yards and a touchdown.

“The defense played great, which is what we’ve done all year,” Gardiner coach Matt Burgess said. “Those guys scored nine points which is a great night for them. Offensively, we were able to move the ball, but we left some points on the field and we need to fix that.”

The Tigers led 17-7 at the half on Meehan’s interception return, his field goal and a 1-yard run from Sirois. The Witches countered with a score by Dillon Smith that capped an 80-yard drive.

“Turnovers stopped the momentum we had,” Brewer coach Don Farnham said. “But our kids kept battling. It was 17-14 there in the second (half).”

Freshman quarterback Logan Rogerson was intercepted twice and also lost a fumble, but he also completed two fourth down passes in the fourth quarter to keep Brewer’s final scoring drive alive.
“You live and die with a freshman,” Farnham said.

The Tigers pressured Rogerson and forced mistakes. Linebackers Brad Weston and Hunter Belanger were in on several tackles in the backfield while Meehan, Tyler Jamison and Frank Chepke played well in the secondary.

Gardiner controlled the ball for most of the third quarter but two long drives stalled inside the Brewer 10 yard. The Witches drew to within three points, 17-14, early in the fourth quarter on another score from Smith (21 carries, 66 yards). The Tigers recovered an onside kick attempt near midfield and drove 49 yards with Meehan hitting Moore in stride on third and 6 from the 23.

Weston blitzed and recovered a fumble on Brewer’s next drive and the Tigers eventually forced a safety when Jory Vermillion tackled Rogerson in the end zone.

“It’s good to have a win at home,” Burgess said.

Gary Hawkins — 621-5638
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