FARMINGTON — When told Will Bessey, Brunswick High School’s standout running back, had 37 carries, Brunswick coach Dan Cooper laughed.

“Is that how many he had?” Cooper asked.

A week after leaving a game because of a hip injury, Bessey, the Pine Tree Conference Class B leading rusher, showed no signs of injury. Bessey carried the ball 37 times for 213 yards, helping the Dragons earn an important 27-16 win at Mt. Blue on a cold night at Caldwell Field.

“We got the win, and I’m feeling great right now,” Bessey, who had 20 carries in the second half as the Dragons gripped a slim lead with white knuckles, said.

Brunswick is now 6-1, while Mt. Blue is 5-2. Brunswick held a four-point lead throughout most of the second half, until quarterback Thomas Hanson scored on a 3-yard run with 4:40 left in the game to push the lead to 11 points. Mt. Blue’s last chance ended when Ben Palizay intercepted a pass at the Brunswick 35 with just under a minute to play.

Brunswick scored on its first drive, taking seven minutes off the clock in the process. Hanson hit Jackson Gordon for an 11-yard touchdown pass, and the Dragons had a 7-0 lead with 3:22 left in the first quarter.

On the second play of the ensuing Mt. Blue possesion, Palizay intercepted a Ryan Pratt pass at the Brunswick 30 and returned it the five. Two plays later, Bessey scored on a 3-yard run, and the Dragons had a 13-0 lead.

“When you spot someone a 13-zip lead early in the first quarter, and they’re as good as Brunswick is and as capable of running the ball like they are, it makes it uphill,” Mt. Blue coach Jim Aylward said.

The Cougars answered early in the second quarter, when Pratt scored on a 1-yard keeper. The touchdown was set up by a 43-yard run from Nate Pratt-Holt, who led Mt. Blue with 59 yards rushing and 25 yards receiving. Alex Gilbert ran in the 2-point conversion, cutting Brunswick’s lead to 13-8.

The Dragons scored with 4:25 left in the first half on Jesse Devereaux’s 3-yard run. The ensuing kickoff was a short kick. Quinn Guistra caught it at his own 35, and went 65 yards up the middle of the field for a Mt. Blue touchdown. Zach Meader’s conversion run made it 20-16 Brunswick.

The Cougars recovered a Bessey fumble inside their own 5-yard line late in the second quarter, and appeared to carry that momentum into the second half, driving deep into Brunswick territory. Mt. Blue had first and goal at the Dragons nine, but the drive stalled and they turned the ball over on downs at the 4.

“I told the kids I thought we played really well through the initial punch to the face, but when you’re playing uphill against a good team that has the ability to control the clock and churn our first downs like they did, it makes it tough,” Aylward said.

Added Cooper: “If we don’t make that goal line stand, we would’ve been behind.”

Relying heavily on Bessey, the Dragons ran and ran, taking time off the clock. Normally a two-way starter, Bessey played no defense in this game. Cooper said the plan wasn’t to use Bessey so much, but since he was running well, the Dragons went with it.

“They never really stopped us when we were in that set. He was getting five or six yards a run, and eventually he started getting some bigger ones,” Cooper said. “It’s when we got out of that set is when we got stopped. He was feeling good, running hard, so we kept feeding him. He sucked it up, and he was a warrior tonight.”

Mt. Blue played without leading rusher Christian Whitney, who missed the game after getting a concussion last week against Nokomis. With Whitney out, the Cougars split the carries. Meader had 12 carries for 32 yards, while Gilbert had eight for 27.

Travis Lazarczyk — 861-9242

[email protected]

Twitter: @TLazarczykMTM


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