PITTSFIELD — Maine Central Institute went from a first half that nearly ruined a year of hard work to a second half that made the last 14 years worth the wait.

The top-seeded Huskies dominated the second half, scoring 21 unanswered points to rally to a 21-7 win over No. 2 Bucksport in the Little Ten Conference championship.

The Huskies (10-0) won their first LTC title since 2000 and will meet defending state champion Oak Hill in the Class D title game next Saturday at Fitzpatrick Stadium.

“At halftime, we knew we had to turn things around,” senior defensive end Mitchell Hallee said. “We just came together and showed in out here.”

Jonathan Santiago rushed for 126 yards and two touchdowns on 26 carries, including 115 yards and both scores in the second half.

“We still had faith. We still trusted in each other,” Santiago said. “We just went out there and executed in the second half.”

The Huskies took the opening kickoff of the second half and marched 77 yards on 12 plays to tie it. Santiago ripped of runs of eight, 15, nine and 15 yards before scoring from four yards out.

MCI held Bucksport to 62 yards of offense in the second half, including just six yards rushing. That, combined with a rash of uncharacteristic Bucksport penalties (12 for 131 yards), kept the Huskies in good field position and in motion.

MCI took the lead early in the fourth quarter when QB Greg Vigue rolled left to evade a Bucksport pass rusher and threw to Eric Hathaway in the end zone for a 30-yard touchdown with 10:37 left.

Santiago added a 1-yard TD run and Bradon Monteyro and Brandon McKenna added interceptions to seal it.

Penalties and a bad pitch to Santiago spoiled good starting field position, the Bucksport 40, late in the first quarter and the Huskies had to punt on 3rd-and-35.

The Golden Bucks (8-2) took over at their own 40 and ran nine plays to paydirt, a one-yard leap over the top of the goal-line pile by Jack Cyr for a 7-0 lead with 10:37 left in the half.

The Huskies responded with their best drive of the half. Vigue converted a 4th-and-5 with a nine-yard completion to Santiago that set MCI up 1st-and-goal at the 8. On third down from the 7, Cyr and Hayden Craig diagnosed a Santiago sweep and dropped the running back in the backfield for a six-yard loss. Vigue’s throw to the end zone on fourth down fell incomplete.

“I think nerves got to us in the first half,” Hallee said. “This is a rare occasion for us and (Bucksport) knows how the dance works. It was just nerves in the beginning but we brought it back to Pittsfield.”

Bucksport outgained MCI in the first half, 127-61, thanks in part to their stifling of Santiago (10 carries, 11 yards).

Randy Whitehouse — 621-5638

[email protected]

Twitter: @RAWmaterial33


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