SKOWHEGAN — If that game doesn’t get the Skowhegan and Mt. Blue high school football teams ready for the playoffs, nothing will.

Trailing by 19 points at the half, Mt. Blue cut the Indians’ lead to six points and had the ball deep in Skowhegan territory in the final minute before a Spencer Salley interception in the end zone with 18 seconds left sealed the 26-20 win for Skowhegan.

With the win, Skowhegan (7-1) earned the No. 2 seed in the Pine Tree Conference Class B playoffs and will have a bye to the semifinals. Mt. Blue (5-3) will be the No. 4 seed and will host No. 5 Cony next week.

Mt. Blue started its final drive at its own 19, but picked up 50 yards in two plays when quarterback Ryan Pratt completed a 26-yard pass to Christian Whitney and a 24-yard pass to Nate Pratt-Holt. Three Zach Meader runs got the Cougars to the Skowhegan 20 with 1:27 to play.

Mt. Blue had third down and four at the 14, but a false start pushed them back to the 19. After an incompletion, the Cougars had fourth and 9. Pratt threw a pass to the end zone intended for Alex Gilbert, but Salley came down with the ball.

“We had a little miscommunication on a couple of plays, but we figured it out. We knew they were going to try to throw to the end zone, and we all just did our jobs and backed up. It was a jump ball and I ended up coming down with it,” Salley, who also had a pair of touchdown catches and an 85-yard kick return for a score in the first half, said.

The Cougars trailed 26-7 when they began to rally in the third quarter. Pratt connected with Pratt-Holt for an 89-yard touchdown pass with 4:28 left in the third, cutting Skowhegan’s lead to 26-14.

With 9:07 left in the game, Meader caught a 30-yard touchdown pass from Pratt and the Cougars were down 26-20.

“We played the way we’re capable. Skowhegan just out-played us. We played maybe a quarter and a half of good football, and Skowhegan played consistently well throughout most of the game,” Mt. Blue coach Jim Aylward said.

After moving up and down the field in the first half, and gaining 238 yards in the first half, Skowhegan’s offense sputtered in the second half. The Indians gained just four first downs in the second half, and that helped the Cougars climb back into the game.

“We didn’t get our jobs done up front. We didn’t get our jobs done catching the ball. We needed to come out strong in the second half, and we didn’t until the end of the game. We should’ve done better,” Salley said.

Added Skowhegan coach Matt Friedman: “Give all the credit to Mt. Blue. They came out in the second half and they made some adjustments that we struggled with. They certainly played better, but I think we got a little too conservative. We just kind of lost our focus, more than anything.”

Skowhegan took the lead early. After Mt. Blue lost a fumble on its first offensive play, the Indians needed just four plays to go 40 yards, taking a 6-0 lead on Luke Bolster’s two yard run.

Salley caught a 20-yard pass from Garrett McSweeney (246 yards, with 201 in the first half) with 5:12 left in the second quarter.

With 1:14 left in the first half, McSweeney connected with Salley again, this time for 15 yards, and Skowhegan led 19-0. That set up a wild final minute of the first half. First, Mt. Blue’s Noah Carleton returned a kick 72 yards for a touchdown, cutting Skowhegan’s lead to 19-7. Salley returned the ensuing Mt. Blue kick 85 yards for a touchdown. After it appeared Salley would be tackled around his own 25, he squirmed away, cutting the right and down the sideline for the touchdown.

“I was going to try to find a seam up the middle. I knew that they were all coming down the field pretty quick, so maybe I could make some kids miss. I got some good blocks on the corner, and I saw the edge and went,” Salley said.

Salley also returned the second half kickoff 85 yards to the end zone, but this one was called back on a block in the back penalty, setting up Skowhegan’s frustrating second half.

Pratt-Holt had four catches for 117 yards for Mt. Blue. Jon Bell caught seven passes for 115 yards for Skowhegan.

“It won’t get any easier next week, and we’ve got to play four quarters, bottom line,” Aylward said.

Travis Lazarczyk — 861-9242

[email protected]

Twitter: @TLazarczykMTM


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