NEWPORT — At halftime, it looked like the upset of the season in the Pine Tree Conference Class B was 24 minutes of football away. Winless Nokomis Regional High School held an eight-point lead over Mt. Blue, and the Warriors had all the momentum.

In the second half, however, the Cougars offense gained just enough of a spark to hold off an upset-minded Nokomis, and Mt. Blue pulled out the 24-14 win to improve to 5-1 and keep pace with the top teams in the conference.

“We were horrible today. Give credit to Nokomis. They came ready to play today, we didn’t. I’m not pleased with how we played. I’m pleased we won, but to be honest, if we play like that next week (against Brunswick) we’ll get beat by 50,” Mt. Blue coach Jim Aylward said. “Nokomis played really well today. Their kids were getting off our blocks and their kids were blocking us. Until the second half, I thought they outplayed us in almost every aspect of the game.”

Mt. Blue gained 181 of its 236 yards of offense in the second half. In the first half, the Cougars never could capitalize on good field position, with four drives stalling in Nokomis (0-6) territory with no points. On the other hand, the Warriors put together the only scoring drive of the first half, and took an 8-0 lead when Cody Rice scored on a 14-yard run with 2:45 left in the second quarter. Isaac Thibodeau caught the 2-point conversion pass from Andrew Haining.

“We’ve played well in spurts this year, just not a full game. We definitely had the upper hand in the first half and had a lot of momentum,” Nokomis coach Matt O’Connell said.

The Cougars offense finally found ryhthm midway through the third quarter. Mt. Blue tied the game on an 11-play, 62-yard drive, scoring on a 7-yard run up the middle by Zach Meader. Christian Whitney caught Ryan Pratt’s 2-point conversion pass, and the game was tied at 8-8 with 1:43 left in the third.

A key to Mt. Blue’s second-half success was a better effort from the offensive line.

“It just dawned on us, we weren’t playing to our expectations,” Mt. Blue guard Will Gunter said. “We were constantly changing things up. I don’t think we ran the same blocking scheme (twice in a row).”

Mt. Blue didn’t take the lead until Meader scored on a 34-yard pass from Pratt with 9:51 left in the game. Whitney ran in the 2-point conversion, and the Cougars had a 16-8 lead.

The Warriors responded with their best drive of the day. Nokomis went 62 yards in 12 plays and converted a pair of fourth downs. The second came on fourth and goal when Haining scrambled for a 4-yard touchdown run. The 2-point conversion pass failed, and Nokomis trailed 16-14 with 6:32 left in the game.

The Cougars iced the game when Pratt connected with Nate Pratt-Holt on a 5-yard touchdown pass with 2:51 left. Whitney (96 yards on 19 carries) ran in the conversion, and Mt. Blue had a 10-point lead.

The Cougars held Nokomis to 173 yards of offense. Rice led the Warriors with 53 yards on 15 carries, and Haining threw for 72 yards.

“Our front four and backers can fill the middle, and if our corners can stop their pass game, we’re in pretty good shape,” Gunter said.

Travis Lazarczyk — 861-9242

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</URL>Twitter: @TLazarczykMTM

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