AUGUSTA — Neither the Lawrence nor Cony football teams were about to give the other a win in a Pine Tree Conference B semifinal Saturday afternoon at Alumni Field.

As the contest wore on, both knew the victor would have to take it.

In this case, it was the third-seeded Bulldogs (8-2) that emerged with a 28-27 victory over the No. 2 Rams (7-3) on the heels of a game-defining decision.

After marching down the field 84 yards for a touchdown with 1 minute, 8 seconds remaining in the contest to draw within one, Lawrence elected to go for the 2-point conversion and the win, rather than the tie.

“If we’d had a timeout, we might have contemplated it but we didn’t,” Lawrence coach John Hersom said. “I said let’s kick it first and then one of my coaches (Jake Rogers) upstairs said, ‘coach, you don’t want to win it now?’

“I thought for a second and said ‘OK, let’s win it.’ We had a great play call. That was one of our two-point plays that we practiced this week to try to have it ready and the kids executed it.”

The play was the Bulldogs’ version of the wildcat with senior Cole Robinson in at quarterback, and on the play he found sophomore Seth Powers open in the left side of the end zone to win it for Lawrence.

“We’re Bulldogs, we never back down,” Robinson said. “Lawrence pride.”

Robinson paced the Bulldogs — who will play at No. 1 Brunswick on Friday in the PTC B final — with 110 yards and one touchdown on 24 carries. He also had one catch for 15 yards and the 2-point-conversion pass. Senior quarterback Cody Martin completed 15 of 27 passes for 153 yards and two touchdowns — both to Powers.

Cony, meanwhile, was paced by junior Reid Shostak, who totaled 87 all-purpose yards and caught a pair of touchdown passes from quarterback Mitchell Caron. The Rams’ senior signal caller completed 17 of 32 passes for 258 yards and three touchdowns, one of which came on a 64-yard strike to junior Anthony Brunelle in the second quarter.

“These kids have brought us to where we’ve always wanted to be for Cony football and I couldn’t be any more proud of them,” Cony coach Robby Vachon said of his team. “Hats off to Lawrence. They made some huge plays when they needed to and it was a pretty gutsy call there to go for two.”

Caron also was picked off twice in the contest, the second of which bounced off Shostak and into the hands of Dustin Simpson-Bragg, who returned the interception 26 yards for a touchdown to put Lawrence ahead 20-13 with 8:25 to play in the third quarter.

It was after the interception, however, that Caron and the Rams began to take control of the game with a series of gutsy plays in their own right.

Facing a 4th-and-8 at the Lawrence 43-yard line on the ensuing possession, Cony lined up in punt formation only to audible into their regular offense. The gamble paid off as Caron found Tayler Carrier — who finished with seven catches for 80 yards and also rushed for 19 more — along the right sideline for an 11-yard pickup.

The duo connected again just six plays later on a 5-yard strike to tie the game at 20-all.

The Rams continued to build momentum when they stopped Lawrence on a 4th-and-1 at the Cony 45-yard line, and all it took was seven plays for the Rams to strike again on another touchdown pass from Caron to Shostak.

Facing a 27-20 deficit with 9:46 remaining, the ensuing drive from the Bulldogs sputtered after a long run on first down from Martin and Lawrence was forced to punt the ball away with 8:11 to go in the contest.

Cony took over at its own 23-yard line and worked its way up the field behind a mix of run and pass plays — chewing four minutes off the clock in the process.

It would not prove to be enough, however, as a Caron pass on 4th-and-2 from the Lawrence 16-yard line was too high for Brunelle, giving the ball back to the Bulldogs with 4:01 showing on the game clock.

“It would have been nice to stick one in when we got down near the 20,” Vachon said. “We just kind of stalled and give them credit.”

Throughout Lawrence’s game-winning drive, the Bulldogs made a number of critical plays, but there were not many bigger than Simpson-Bragg’s catch with the ball just on the Cony side of midfield and the Bulldogs facing a 4th-and-9.

Martin was pressured in the pocket but the lefty managed to loft a pass toward Simpson-Bragg along the right sideline. The 6-foot-3 wide receiver used every bit of his long frame to extend his hands out and haul in the 20-yard completion to keep hope alive for Lawrence.

“We used (that play) as a touchdown throw against Brewer last week and only used it once,” Hersom said. “We were kind of concerned they might have been all over it but he got free. He’s an athletic kid. He’s super on the basketball court and he’s just a hard-working kid — very deserving.”

Three plays later, Martin completed a 27-yard pass down the left sideline to Powers, and on the very next snap Robinson did the rest with a 2-yard touchdown run.

“He is a hard matchup for people to defend,” Hersom said. “Coach (Ken) Lindlof does a great job of designing ways of getting Seth the football as well as Dustin Simpson-Bragg.

“We’ve got a ton of ways we can try and get those guys the ball. They’re hard to defend when we’re using both of them.”

The Bulldogs were still faced with a decision to make after the touchdown, yet it was likely made a little bit easier for Hersom to go for it with Lawrence’s usual kicker, Chad Martin, unavailable due to injury.

Ultimately, Lawrence opted to put the ball in the hands of two of its best players and they delivered.

“All we wanted to do is win the game,” Robinson said. “We took the chance and we made it happen.”

Cony had one last chance with a little over one minute remaining, and the Rams did their best to make it interesting when Caron completed a 19-yard pass to Brunelle on 4th-and-16 to get the ball to the Lawrence 45-yard line.

There would be no last-second heroics reminiscent of the Rams 22-21 win over Greely, however, as Caron’s attempts on third and fourth down sailed incomplete.

Evan Crawley—621-5640

[email protected]

Twitter: @Evan_Crawley

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