WATERVILLE — It had been a long time between victories but the Waterville football team hadn’t forgotten how to celebrate.

The Purple Panthers mobbed one another at midfield following their 21-7 win over Mt. Blue at Drummond Field on Saturday.

“It feels pretty good,” said Waterville senior Chase Wheeler, who led the Panthers with 128 rushing yards. “I’ve never won a game before. I joined the team last year.”

Waterville’s last victory came late in the 2015 schedule against John Bapst. They returned many of their of their players from a year ago and the experience showed despite a shaky start in which they turned the ball over on their first three possessions.

“Already this year we feel like more of a family,” junior quarterback Jack Thompson said.

Thompson rushed for two touchdowns including a back-breaker of 44 yards late in the game.

“We were just trying to waste the clock,” he said. “We ran QB counter and I saw an open hole and I just ran.”

The game was a crossover for the teams since Mt. Blue plays in the Class B Pine Tree Conference and Waterville in the Class C Little Ten. It looked like a mismatch at the outset after Thompson was intercepted on the first possession and Wheeler fumbled on the second. Both would redeem themselves on offense and defense.

Mt. Blue senior David Quimby picked off the pass and recovered the first fumble. After his recovery Abram Meader (20 carries, 84 yards), swept left for 12 yards and Reed Wells kicked the conversion to make it 7-0 just four minutes into the game.

The Cougars would be dogged by penalties — nine for 65 yards — as well as a stout Waterville defense led by Wheeler, Thompson, Nicholas Wildhaber, Barry Preble, Trafton Gilbert and Cooper Hart among others. They finished with 135 rushing yards on 32 attempts while while Waterville amassed 269 yards on 38 attempts. A holding penalty wiped out a 65-yard pass from junior Noah Bell to wideout Matt Hyde in the second quarter.

“We made some errors on drives that cost us offensively and defensively,” first-year Mt. Blue coach Nate Quirion said. “We’re trying to understand situational football a lot better and understand what we can and can’t do.”

Two critical plays helped Waterville get untracked. First, Wheeler broke a counter play down the left side for 58 yards which led to Thompson’s seven-yard TD run on the next play that tied the game.

“The lineman that pulled they were really just getting on their horse,” Wheeler said. “Everyone ws just taking their assignments and it was broad daylight. It was easy for the wings to run it.”

The second play came early in the second half when Wildhaber stepped in front of a receiver amd intercepted a pass in the right flat at the Cougar 27. Two plays, Wildhaber ran a counter in from 23 yards out to make it 14-7.

“People have their own opinions on doing 7 on 7 work in the summer,” Waterville coach Matt Gilley said. “That kid, Nick Wildhaber, had seen that a ton of times in the last couple of months.”

Thompson, who started as a sophomore, finished with 60 yards yards while also completing 4 of 7 passes.

“He’s got it upstairs,” Gilley said. “He’s composed and that is the difference. The lumps he took last year paid off today.”

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