DEXTER — At halftime of Saturday afternoon’s showdown between Maine Central Institute and Dexter, two of the three unbeaten teams in the Little Ten Conference, MCI held a six-point lead. The Huskies also had prevented the Tigers from running the ball at all, holding Dexter to minus-29 yards rushing in the first half.

Even so, MCI head coach Tom Bertrand felt like his team was behind.

“We felt liked they’d beaten us,” Bertrand said. “The scoreboard and the stats showed different, but physically they had done that… They had us physically and mentally. We had to respond, and we did.”

Defense and special teams kept the Huskies in the game in the first half. When the offense came around in the second, the all-around effort turned the game into an MCI runaway. MCI took a 36-2 win to improve to 6-0, setting up a showdown next week with an another undefeated team, this time Orono. Dexter is now 5-1.

MCI’s offense lost a fumble on each of its first two possessions of the game, the second setting the Tigers up at the MCI 11-yard line. The Huskies defense was stout, knocking Tyler Beem for a 10-yard loss on second down and ending Dexter’s scoring threat when Eli Bussell sacked Brayden Miller on fourth down.

“I don’t think (the offense) was clicking, but that’s the kind of adversity we want,” MCI quarterback Josh Buker said. “This is going to help us, actually. You want problems. We came together and faced it. You can’t ask anything better.”

For the game, MCI held Dexter to 91 yards of total offense, including just 5 yards on the ground.

“Our front four, front five, held the trenches well and our linebackers played well,” Buker, who returned an interception 18 yards in the pivotal third quarter, said.

Dexter took a 2-0 lead early in the second quarter, when Buker mishandled a high punt snap and was tackled in the end zone for a safety. On Dexter’s ensuing possession, however, everything changed. After a three-and-out, Buker returned a punt 82 yards for the go-ahead touchdown, racing untouched down the Huskies sideline. Bussell ran in the two-point conversion, and MCI had an 8-2 lead.

“I saw it coming and I said, ‘I’m hitting a hole and I’m gone,'” Buker said.

“Games like this are games of momentum, and we needed to get it back. They had it, and we needed to take it away. That was a big momentum shift. That was a big play, and he makes big plays,” Bertrand said of Buker’s return.

The Huskies got more big special teams plays in the third quarter. First, Pedro Matos returned a punt 42 yards for a touchdown and a 16-2 lead. MCI recovered the onside kick at the Dexter 35 and scored three plays later on a 14-yard run by Buker (82 yards rushing). Adam Bertrand added a 7-yard touchdown run with 1:32 left in the third quarter, and MCI had a 30-2 lead.

Blake Frost’s 18-yard touchdown run midway through the fourth quarter closed the scoring.

MCI held Zach White, Dexter’s leading receiver, without a catch. Jason Campbell had three catches for 43 yards to lead the Tigers.

“We play pretty good run defense. Our pass defense is coming along. We’re pretty stingy against the run, and we knew we needed to contain their quarterback (Miller) and their big receivers,” Coach Bertrand said.

Travis Lazarczyk — 861-9242

[email protected]

Twitter: @TLazarczykMTM


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