PITTSFIELD — It was the whim of a coin flip that determined the Little Ten Conference semifinal game between Mattanawcook Academy of Lincoln and Maine Central Institute would be played on MCI’s campus. The Lynx and Huskies tied for second place in the conference, and when MCI head coach Tom Bertrand won a coin flip at Orono High School two weeks ago, he earned the home game for his team.

On Friday night, Mattanawcook made it its mission to prove it was the better team, and took a convincing 34-6 win.

No. 3 Mattanawcook, now 8-1, will face No. 1 Bucksport (9-0) in the conference championship game next week. MCI ends its best season in more than a decade with a 7-2 record.

“The new coaching staff’s been great. They’re pushing us, every play, every whistle,” Mattanawcook senior quarter Trysten Pelkey, who threw three touchdown passes, ran for a touchdown, and returned an interception for a score, said.

The Huskies entered the game shorthanded, with tight end Mitchell Hallee and wide receiver Tanner Littlefield out with injuries, and in the first half, the injuries got worse. Running back Jonathan Santiago, who led the LTC with 1,496 rushing yards in the regular season, went down with a concussion and had just three carries for four yards in the first quarter. Wide receiver Austin Tolman, who caught a 64-yard touchdown pass barely a minute and a half into the game, suffered a back injury in the second quarter and was taken to the hospital.

“(Mattanawcook) played a great game. They were physical, and we had some guys go down. Momentum changed, and they did a great job. It was one of those nights,” MCI head coach Tom Bertrand said.

The Lynx game plan was to run the ball, but in the first quarter, Mattanawcook saw it would have success through the air. Pelkey connected with Gunner Maxwell for touchdown passes of 21, 28 and 27 yards in the first half, as the Lynx built a 26-6 halftime lead. Maxwell caught eight passes for 152 yards. Pelkey ran for 58 yards and threw for 195.

“We thought we were going to come down here and pound it, but we saw something that we thought was a weakness, and we just went with it,” Pelkey said.

A 77-yard return on the opening kickoff by Scott Jipson, combined with a facemask penalty, set the Lynx opening series at the Huskies’ 3 yard line. On second down, Pelkey ran in from a yard out for a 6-0 lead 53 seconds into the game.

MCI answered when Greg Vigue connected with Tolman for their 64-yard touchdown pass, but the Lynx took the lead for good with 6:55 left in the first half on Pelkey’s 21-yard touchdown pass to Maxwell.

Maxwell and Pelkey connected twice in the second quarter for scoring passes, giving the Lynx a 20-point cushion at the half. Pelkey returned an interception six yards with 5:04 left in the third quarter, grabbing a ball thrown by Vigue as he was hit by Kyrab Daszkiewicz.

With so many playmakers hurt, the Huskies struggled to move the ball. After the first possession scoring drive, MCI never got any closer to the end zone than the Mattanawcook 43.

Eric Hathaway gained 73 yards on 15 carries for the Huskies.

Travis Lazarczyk — 861-9242[email protected]Twitter: @TLazarczykMTM

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