GARDINER — Two teams out of the Pine Tree Conference playoff picture put in a championship effort at Hoch Field on Friday night.

In a game of precipitous highs and lows, Hampden Academy scored with one second left on the clock then converted a controversial two-point conversion to pull out a 29-28 win over Gardiner.

The Tigers scored a go-ahead touchdown with 1:19 left to play on a 25-yard touchdown pass from Eli Kropp to Kaleb Caron. Kropp hit a sliding Hunter Russell in the back of the end zone for the conversion pass to give the Tigers a 28-21 lead.

The visiting Broncos (2-5), who scored 22 points in the fourth quarter, drove 84 yards in the final 1:19 on the arm of senior quarterback Tommy Farrar, who was 7 of 9 in the drive, including a pair of clutch 22-yard receptions by Conary Moore.

With nine seconds left to play and on the Gardiner 18-yard line, Farrar scrambled right and hit wideout Tyler Knights at the goal line. Knights dove to the pylon and scored with a second left to play. The Broncos had kicked three extra points, but went for the win this time. Billy Campbell got the call and was stopped before reaching the goal line by Caron. The ball squirted loose and was recovered by Jake Black just on the goal line.

“He fumbled it, I picked it up,” Caron said. “We were in a scramble, he picked up the ball and rolled in, but we both had the ball,” Caron said. “It was stopped short on my part, but it was the ref’s call.”

Campbell agreed Caron had stopped him which is why, he said, he fumbled on purpose.

“I knew I wasn’t going to make it in so I just reached back and fumbled it to Jake Black and he took it the rest of the way,” he said.

The Tigers controlled the scoreboard most of the game, leading 14-7 at the half and 20-7 entering the fourth period. Two big plays hurt their chances for a win.

Late in the third quarter, Gardiner cornerback Jack Hathaway intercepted Farrar and returned the ball 35 yards to the Hampden 10. But the play was called back on a roughing the passer penalty. The Broncos would turn this good fortune into a score. Faced with a fourth-and-9 from the Gardiner 29, coach Scott Flagg went deep into his playbook and called an option pass from Black to Brendan McIntire that worked for the second time in two weeks.

At this point, the momentum was all on Hampden’s side and it chewed seven minutes off the clock, scoring with 3:10 left on a 2-yard plunge from Campbell. The conversion kick gave them a 21-20 lead.

The Tigers answer was equally dramatic. Facing a fourth-and-10 at their own 47, Kropp found Cody Spencer in the right flat for 25 yards. Spencer went up between two defenders for the catch. Two plays later, Caron caught his TD pass.

After a scoreless fist quarter, the Tigers scored twice in the second, on a 6-yard run by Ethan Votra and a 2-yard plunge from Kropp. The Tigers QB completed 8 of 12 passes for 93 yards.


Only subscribers are eligible to post comments. Please subscribe or to participate in the conversation. Here’s why.

Use the form below to reset your password. When you've submitted your account email, we will send an email with a reset code.