WINTHROP — All signs pointed to a classic matchup between the Maranacook and Winthrop/Monmouth football teams Friday night.

The teams played to a last-minute decision during the regular season and both were struggling to advance beyond the first round of the Class D Campbell Conference playoffs.

But after a close first half, Winthrop/Monmouth pulled away to a 27-3 victory behind a balanced offensive attack and a defense that kept the Black Bears out of the end zone for the first time all season.

The Ramblers (5-3) advance to a showdown next week against either unbeaten Oak Hill or Traip. Maranacook finished 4-4.

The Ramblers were coming off their most disappointing loss of the season last week against Boothbay, albeit with a few players missing due to suspensions or injury, and they took their frustration out on the Black Bears.

“It kind of was a godsend last week,” Winthrop coach Dave St. Hilaire said. “We had some guys out and to come out and play like we did last week it really challenged the kids and they realized we can’t have an off night at all.”

The Rambler defense held the Black Bears to 89 total yards, stuffing most of Maranacook’s running plays at the line of scrimmage behind Hunter Hamlin, Mike Brown and Brendan Dunn up front. The offense was just as efficient, relying heavily on junior running back Nate Scott and the passing combination of Bennett Brooks and quarterback Matt Ingram.

Scott, who missed last week’s game, carried the ball 19 times for 151 yards, mostly on sweeps to either side, and a touchdown.

“With the help of my line and some really great blocks we were able to get to the outside tonight,” Scott said.”It was a very frustrating thing (last week). I just thought to myself I was going to come out this week and I wasn’t going to let us lose.”

The Ramblers controlled the ball on the ground behind Scott, Alec Brown and Dustin Tripp, but it was the passing game that got them going. Facing a fourth down and 20 at the Maranacook 29 in the first quarter, Ingram hit Brooks in the right corner of the end zone for a score. The juniors have been playing together for a long time.

“We’ve been playing together since third grade,” Brooks said.

The Black Bears countered when Ty Smith kicked a 30-yard field goal. They were somewhat limited without the services of running back Jake Gibson and the brunt of the running attack fell to quarterback Kyle Morand.

The Bears fumbled on their first possession of the second with Dunn recovering at the Maranacook 34. After a couple of penalties, though, the Ramblers found themselves facing another fourth down, this time fourth and 8 from the 21. Ingram found Brooks again on a slant in which he cut back to the left sideline.

“We practice that route a lot,” Brooks said. “It’s probably our best route, bread and butter as you’d say.”

The Rambler defense stuffed the Bears on their next possession and got the ball back in Maranacook territory. Scott set up an 8-yard score by Brown with a nifty 26-yard run which began as a sweep right that he cut back.

He finished his big day with a 6-yard scoring run in the fourth quarter.


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