OAKLAND — Midway through the third quarter against Messalonskee, Cony High School senior Reid Shostak announced his return to the Pine Tree Conference. Shostak suffered a dislocated left elbow in the preseason and missed last week’s season opener. So when Shostak carried the ball for the first time, it was a big deal.

“I thought my senior season was over, and I got back in, second game of the season. I was fired up,” Shostak said.

Shostak’s first carry went for 19 yards, and his scream of joy and enthusiasm as he got up sparked the entire Rams sideline. When Shostak intercepted an Austin Pelletier pass with 51 seconds left to secure a 33-27 Cony win, he drew even more louder cheers from his teammates, overjoyed to have their team leader back.

Cony improved to 1-1 and gave head coach B.L. Lippert his first career victory. Messalonskee dropped to 1-1.

Originally, the plan was to have Shostak just play defense at linebacker. But even protecting his elbow with a bulky brace, Shostak lobbied Lippert to let him play offense.

“I was nagging Coach Lip the whole game, and he finally let me play,” said Shostak, who finished with 30 yards rushing and 29 receiving while playing just one half of offense.

“We didn’t know he’d play until (Thursday). We thought he’d only play one side of the ball. You could just tell his emotional presence for us,” Lippert said. “He had a couple huge sticks defensively in the first half that set the tempo for us, just like he has his whole career. Certainly, when he’s not out there, it’s obvious.”

Shostak’s interception near midfield in the final minute ended an impressive fourth quarter rally by Messalonskee. When Cony quarterback Taylor Heath ran for a 5-yard touchdown with 10:30 left in the game, the Rams had a 33-14 lead. Messalonskee chipped away when tight end Yan Gusmanov caught a 30-yard touchdown pass from Pelletier with 8:11 left, and when Pelletier scored from one yard out, the Eagles were down just six points with 2:53 to go.

Cony recovered an onside kick, but had to punt the ball back to the Eagles, who took over at their own 13 with 1:24 left, setting up Shostak’s pick of a scrambling Pelletier.

“The quarterback was scrambling around. He was just looking for somewhere to throw it. I was reading his eyes, and he threw it up, and I was there to catch it,” Shostak said.

“Turnovers kill you. We fought hard. We came back and made a game of it,” Messalonskee coach Brad Bishop said.

Heath had a big game for the Cony offense, completing 25 of 42 passes for 379 yards and four touchdowns. Heath threw a four yard touchdown pass to Anthony Brunelle (seven catches for 70 yards) on Cony’s game-opening drive. After Messalonskee’s Jack Bernatchez tied it with a one yard run late in the first quarter, the Rams scored twice in the second quarter to lead 21-7 at the half.

First, Heath hit Jordan Roddy (eight catches for 177 yards) for a 62-yard touchdown pass that gave the Rams the lead for good. With 17 seconds left in the half, Heath connected with a diving Brunelle for a 6-yard touchdown.

“(Heath) spread the ball around. He made better decisions tonight. I think we saw some good progress from him tonight,” Lippert said.

Ahead 21-14 midway through the third quarter, Cony recovered a Messalonskee fumble near midfield, and converted it into points when Heath and Roddy connected on a 32-yard pass and run for a score.

“(Roddy’s) huge for us. His speed is incredible. He’s one of our best receivers,” Heath said. “Our line was huge tonight.”

Added Bishop: “They’re tough to defend. You’ve got to defend everything with them. We’ll bounce back next week. We’ll be fine.”

Bernatchez led Messalonskee with 104 yards on 23 carries.

Travis Lazarczyk — 861-9242

[email protected]

Twitter: @TLazarczykMTM

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