NEWPORT — Colby Candage put Mount Desert Island in a tight spot, and he was determined to lead the Trojans out of it.

Candage’s fumble at his own 16 with 1 minute, 36 seconds left gave Nokomis a chance to tie or win Saturday’s Eastern C Little Ten Conference opener. On 4th and 1 from the MDI 7, Candage threw Warriors running back Caleb McFarlin for a loss and the Trojans held on for a 20-14 win.

“I kind of had my head hung because I fumbled that ball, but I thought ‘Don’t let down my team. Come back and make a play,’ and that’s what I did,” said Candage, MDI’s junior quarterback and safety.

Senior running back Jalique Keene scored all three touchdowns for MDI (1-0) with runs of 55 and two yards and an 82-yard return of the opening kickoff of the second half.

Nokomis junior QB Josh King completed 8 of 15 passes for 97 yards, including a 14-yard touchdown to Ray Girroir. Joey Marriner had a 6-yard touchdown run for the Warriors (0-1).

The final 1:45 saw dramatic highs and lows for both teams. On 4th and 5 at MDI’s 26, McFarlin (12 carries, 68 yards) fumbled and MDI’s Isaiah Keene recovered for what appeared to be the clincher.

But two plays later, Nokomis defensive tackle Jacob Nichols burst through the line into MDI’s backfield and stripped Candage of the football, which Nichols fell on at the Trojans’ 16 to give the Warriors one more shot with 1:36 remaining.

After a 7-yard run on first down by Noah Kershner (20 carries, 73 yards), the Warriors used their last timeout. Unable to stop the clock again, they went into hurry-up mode. McFarlin was tackled for a two-yard loss on second down, then gained four on third down to set up the game-changing 4th and 1

“It just came down to MDI made a play, and all the credit goes to them,” Nokomis coach Matt O’Connell said. “We put some pressure on them. The momentum was certainly in our favor. But they came up with a big play and won the game.”

Jalique Keene made the big plays on offense for the Trojans. On their first possession, he took a handoff on a counter at his own 45, followed his blockers to the center of the field, kicked out of a tackle at Nokomis’ 45 and sprinted the rest of the way to the end zone.

“We’ve had some other backs ahead of him and this is the first year he’s been the guy,” MDI coach Mark Shields said. “He’s handling it very, very well. He’s that guy that if he gets half a step, he can go. It’s good to have that big-play capability.”

Nokomis answered on its next drive with some strong running by McFarlin and Kershner to MDI’s 14. King then hit Girroir on a fade route for a touchdown and Kershner on the two-point conversion for an 8-6 lead.

“You stop that run game of theirs and then they hit you with those fades. That’s what makes them so dangerous,” Shields said.

MDI went back in front on its next series after Candage broke runs of 23 and 21 yards and Keene pounded it in from the 2. Candage added the two-point conversion for a 14-8 lead.

Keene went to the sideline for the remainder of the first half to nurse a leg contusion but showed no signs of discomfort on the second half kickoff, which he returned right up the middle untouched to make it 20-8.

“I don’t even know if I can take credit for that,” Keene said. “It was just the rest of the team blocked so amazingly that only one kid even got close to me.”

A roughing the passer penalty on fourth down kept the Warriors’ ensuing drive alive. They capitalized with Marriner’s six-yard scoring run up the gut to pull within a touchdown.

Nokomis started in or drove into MDI territory on all of its remaining drive. But the short passing game that complemented the running game in the first half wasn’t as effective without Girroir, who was injured for much of the second half.

“We made some adjustments and I thought the kids responded well,” O’Connor said. “I think the task for us now will be to get them to come out and play at the beginning of the game like they did the last six or eight minutes.”

Randy Whitehouse — 621-5638

Twitter: @RAWmaterial33