WATERVILLE — Another game, another leading rusher for the Waterville Senior High School football team.

On Saturday, it was Dan Pooler’s turn to lead the Purple Panthers’ ground game. With 126 yards and three touchdowns on 10 carries, Pooler became the fifth back in four games (Cam Thomas and Jared Spear tied for the lead last week at Old Town) to lead Waterville in yards. With the strong running game doing its thing, Waterville earned a 38-8 win over Nokomis on a day when temperatures reached the low 80s.

“With the heat, our guys up front were sucking up a little bit of pond water, but when it came to it we got the pile going in the correct direction. Our guys stepped up and did what we expect them to do,” Waterville coach Matt Gilley said.

The Panthers didn’t take control of the game until the final five minutes of the second quarter. Nokomis scored on a safety in the final minute of the first quarter, and when Ray Girroir caught a 23-yard touchdown pass from Josh King with 8:02 left in the second quarter, the Warriors had an 8-7 lead.

“They’re a good team. They have a lot of size, and they have a lot of heart,” Pooler said.

Added Gilley: “They’re a tough team. They’re a well-coached team. We didn’t know what to expect, but we knew what their strength is. They’re big and strong. They’re going to try to plow forward. Nobody’s really tried that against us this season. There was a little bit of an adjustment period.”

Cam Thomas scored on a 40-yard run with 4:20 left in the first half to put Waterville on top for good. After Spear recovered a Nokomis fumble on the Waterville 37, Pooler went 60 yards for a touchdown with 32.3 seconds left in the second quarter and a 19-8 halftime lead.

“It was a great end to the half. I know our line went above and beyond their blocking assignments that play,” said Pooler, who added a 3-yard touchdown run midway through the fourth quarter.

Thomas scored from three yards out with 7:12 left in the third to push Waterville’s lead to 26-8. After Shahzaib Khan recovered a Nokomis fumble at the Warrior 19, quarterback AJ Godin ended a six play drive with a 1-yard touchdown run for a 32-8 lead.

Waterville’s first drive of the game ended on downs at the Nokomis 4, but after Girroir had trouble handling a punt snap the Panthers took over on the Nokomis 7. Two plays later, Pooler scored on a 3-yard run and Waterville had a 7-0 lead late in the first quarter.

Thomas ran for 109 yards for Waterville, which gained 251 of its 311 yards on the ground.

Cody Rice ran for 42 yards for Nokomis, while Noah Kershner ran for 38.

Travis Lazarczyk — 861-9242

[email protected]

Twitter: @TLazarczykMTM

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