SKOWHEGAN — The cry from the bleachers came after Garrett McSweeney had thrown his second of three touchdown passes Saturday night, cutting the Skowhegan deficit to just six points midway through the fourth quarter: “Hey Messalonskee! Does this look familiar???”

It did, but the fifth-seeded Eagles weren’t about to let recent history dictate their future. Messalonskee junior running back Austin Pelletier capped a huge, four-touchdown night with a two-yard run in the final minute of play to allow the Eagles to hand No. 4 Skowhegan a 33-27 loss in the first round of the Pine Tree Conference Class B playoffs.

“It’s insane, it really is,” said Pelletier, who rushed for 207 yards. “We’ve been working hard all season, and to finally get the win against these guys is huge.”

Messalonskee (5-4) earned a rematch with unbeaten No. 1 seed Brunswick in the PTC B semifinals next weekend. Skowhegan ended its season at 5-4.

When the two teams met during the regular season earlier this month, Skowhegan erased a two-touchdown deficit in the final quarter to steal a jaw-dropping, four-point comeback win. There was no such magic on Saturday.

“Our kids fight and they play hard,” Messalonskee coach Brad Bishop said. “This was our third playoff win in four years. We held onto the ball a lot better tonight.”

Pelletier ran for a 50-yard score on the game’s second play and added touchdown runs of one and 29 yards before halftime, the last of which came with just nine seconds remaining in the second quarter for a 19-6 lead.

The lead grew late in the third quarter with Pelletier’s 7-yard score, but the Indians were determined to fight back.

McSweeney got off to a strong start, completing seven of his first 10 passes on the night, but the Indian offense struggled to gain footing in cold, wet conditions. Even after three dropped balls on behalf of his receiving corps in the second half, an interception to end the first half, and several outstanding pass breakups from Messalonskee defensive back Tyler Lewis deep in the secondary, McSweeney kept fighting. He fired off touchdown passes of 19 and seven yards to close to within 27-20 midway through the fourth quarter, but Eagle Declan Thurston’s quarterback keeper for a one-yard touchdown built too big of a deficit for Skowhegan to recover from.

McSweeney finished at 26 of 46 passing for 301 yards. He also rushed for another touchdown and 53 yards on the ground.

With a couple of timeouts still at their disposal as Messalonskee tried to run out the clock on its final possession, the Indians still found themselves with a chance at the tying score in the final minute of the fourth quarter. Pelletier ran the ball to the Skowhegan 46-yard line, but facing a fourth and one, Bishop called for the punt team. After a timeout, Bishop thought it over and stood in the middle of the field and called for his offense once again — to a raucous response from the Eagles. Pelletier pounded the ball ahead for the first down, and Messalonskee kneeled the ball three times from there to finish it off.

“Everyone really played their hearts out. We really wanted to play Brunswick next week,” Pelletier said. “We’ve really been grinding all week (in practice), because we really wanted to win. It really meant everything.”

Travis Barrett — 621-5621

[email protected]

Twitter: @TBarrettGWC


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