FARMINGTON — On a night in which Mt. Blue High School re-dedicated its football field to former coach Ray Caldwell — who experienced more than his fair share of winning in Farmington — the Cougars came away with a victory, albeit a less-than-pretty one.

Mt. Blue overcame 120 yards worth of penalties Friday night behind a strong defense and its three-pronged running attack of Christian Whitney, Alex Gilbert and Zach Meader to score a 20-6 Pine Tree Conference B win over Cony.

“Our kids played so hard,” Mt. Blue coach Jim Aylward said. “We played so well and yet we couldn’t put it away until there was one minute left in the game.

“That says something about Cony but, man, we’ve got to clean things up. These kids want to accomplish things, I know it’s a tough league … but we’ve got to brush things up. That being said, I’m really happy for these kids.”

Whitney led the way with 15 rushes for 99 yards and one touchdown to go along two catches for 67 yards, including the go-ahead touchdown reception with 8:45 remaining in the third quarter. Meader added 13 rushes for 94 yards and one touchdown, while Gilbert had 77 yards combined rushing and receiving on 10 touches.

“Our line has to get better. Our line is inexperienced. Christian, Alex and Zach are three senior backs and we know they can make plays,” Aylward said. “Until our line gets to where we need, we’re going to ride them for a while.”

Meader put the Cougars ahead 6-0 when he went 45 yards untouched for a touchdown with 5:01 remaining in the opening quarter, but the lead would not last long.

Cony, which was without the services of starting running back/linebacker Reid Shostak due to injury, responded with a 6-play, 59-yard scoring drive that was capped off by a 2-yard touchdown plunge by Taylor Heath with 2:11 left in the first quarter.

On the drive, Heath completed passes of 9, 16 and 16 yards to Joel Bennett, Anthony Brunelle and Nijual Davis, respectively. The point-after attempts on both touchdowns were missed and the two teams entered intermission tied 6-6.

“They’re a really good team. We were really sloppy, a lot of penalties in the first half but over at halftime we got together and really talked about it,” Whitney said. “We came out and did a really good job in the second half.”

The Rams’ defense had a chance to get off the field on Mt. Blue’s opening drive of the second frame with the Cougars facing 3rd-and-6 at the their own 39-yard line when quarterback Ryan Pratt was flushed out of the pocket and to his left.

The Cougars’ senior lofted the ball deep down field for Whitney, who was one-on-one with a Cony defender. Whitney made the grab, turned and rumbled the remaining 20-or-so yards for the touchdown to put Mt. Blue up 14-6 after also rushing for the two-point conversion.

“We were in position, their senior just made a play against our sophomore,” Cony coach B.L. Lippert said. “That happens on the road in your first career start at safety. That happens. He’s going to be a really good player for us and we’re going to stick with him.”

As they did earlier in the contest, the Rams seemed poised to respond quickly after picking up 35 yards on five plays to get down to the Mt. Blue 22-yard line. On the ensuing play quarterback Taylor Heath scrambled for a 5-yard gain, but was hit hard and had the wind knocked out of him.

Heath was forced to the bench for a play since the trainer came out to check on him, bringing in backup quarterback Kolton Vining – a Mt. Blue transfer – for the following play. In what Lippert called “a tough spot” for the junior, a low snap got away from Vining and the Cougars’ Chase Heikkinen swooped in to recover the ball.

Cony then had Mt. Blue backed up to 3rd-and-15 at its own 22-yard line, but Whitney delivered a crushing blow with a 53-yard gain to set the Cougars up in scoring position. Eight plays later the senior running back finished off the drive himself with an 11-yard touchdown rush to put Mt. Blue ahead 20-6 with 1:06 to go in the third quarter.

Heath was intercepted two plays later by Nate Pratt-Holt, and Cony’s two fourth-quarter possessions ended with another pick and an incompletion on 4th-and-30.

“We made some mistakes offensively that really hindered our progress. Even on big plays we’d have a penalty, a block in the back to bring it back,” Lippert said. “Then some missed assignments and some bad play calling to be honest. That’s a result of some newness and hopefully we’ll figure it out.”

Heath finished the game 18-of-32 for 195 yards and two interceptions to go along with the rushing touchdown. Jordan Roddy was his top receiving threat with eight catches for 72 yards, while Brunelle had five grabs for 66 yards.

Evan Crawley – 621-5640

[email protected]

Twitter: @Evan_Crawley

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