OAKLAND — The Messalonskee High School football team had few answers for Skowhegan quarterback Marcus Christopher and receiver Cam Barnes.

Austin Pelletier made sure it wouldn’t matter.

Pelletier ran for seven touchdowns and 341 yards on 33 carries, leading the Eagles through a wild fourth quarter and to a 57-42 victory over Skowhegan at Veterans Field Friday night.

“I think if you’re a fan, you got your money’s worth tonight,” Messalonskee coach Brad Bishop said. “It’s tough to watch this type of game as a coach, because I don’t think anybody had any answers.”

Both teams moved the ball at will, using polar opposite methods to do it. Pelletier was at the helm of Messalonskee’s steamrolling ground attack, which churned out a whopping 506 yards on 48 carries, while Christopher completed 43 of 60 passes for 435 yards and five touchdowns, hitting Barnes 18 times for 202 yards and two scores, while leading Skowhegan’s aerial assault.

“I would have liked to see a little better performance out of the D,” Indians coach Ryan Libby said. “But, to find the offense we did in week 3, that’s at least a positive to take out of this loss.”

The teams were clicking along at a normal pace, with Messalonskee leading 27-14, when Christopher found a diving Colby Miller (six catches, 80 yards, two touchdowns) for a 9-yard touchdown pass on the first play of the fourth quarter.

That made it 27-20 after a missed extra point with 11:52 to play. And that’s when all hell broke loose.

Pelletier got the frenzy started, capping a 56-yard drive with a 25-yard run for his fourth touchdown and a 35-20 lead with 10:23 to go. Unfazed, the Indians needed 12 plays to go 66 yards, finishing the march with a 9-yard connection on fourth-and-4 from Christopher to Jon Bell (six catches, 43 yards), making trimming the gap to 35-28 with 6:08 to play.

Likely sensing that it couldn’t stop Pelletier and the Eagles, the Indians went for an onside kick that Messalonskee recovered at the Skowhegan 42. Any such inklings were proven correct, as Pelletier ripped through the Indians defense untouched for another score with 5:54 to go.

“We definitely know it’s going to be a high-scoring game. It always is when we play them,” Pelletier said. “It doesn’t really matter if we have a great team, they have a great team, vice-versa, it’s always going to be back and forth, down to the line. It has been pretty much every single year.”

The Indians continued to shred the Eagles defense, pulling within eight at 42-34 when Christopher found Barnes with a 21-yard pass with 5:03 to go.

“I think Marcus definitely, in game 3 of his varsity career, this was a huge one,” Libby said. “He finally settled in, he was making the right reads, he was getting the ball to his players, and they did their job.”

The Indians’ inability to stop Pelletier cut down any hope for a rally, however. He needed only four carries to cover 72 yards, the final a 45-yard sprint, for a 49-34 lead with 3:13 to go, and after Christopher hit Miller again for a 10-yard touchdown pass, Pelletier ripped off a 41-yard touchdown run to round out the scoring.

“Austin had a great game, but he had some blocking. The lead back and the line did a great job,” Bishop said. “He’s a tough, tough kid. He’s shifty, plus he’s powerful. He’s got a little bit of everything.”

Pelletier didn’t deny the help he got from his teammates up front, and said they made it an easy night for him.

“They did the hard work (with) all the lead blocks, all the holes were there tonight,” he said. “They got tough, and they pretty much broke it down when it needed to be done.”

It was the same story in the first half. The Indians struck first on their opening drive, with Christopher completing his first five passes for 40 yards to drive Skowhegan to the 1-yard line before Hunter Washburn dove in for the score.

Messalonskee quickly responded. Deklan Thurston rolled right on playaction from his own 49 and lofted a pass downfield to a wide-open Nick Tuttle, who raced untouched for a touchdown to tie the score at 7 with 7:03 to go in the quarter.

Skowhegan found its answer through the air again, with Christopher — who completed his first 10 passes and went 17-of-19 for 165 yards in the first half — finishing a 68-yard drive with a 9-yard pass to Barnes through two defenders for a 14-7 lead. Messalonskee answered right back on Pelletier’s 9-yard touchdown run on the first play of the second quarter, capping off a drive that featured 17- and 26-yard runs from Alden Balboni.

The Eagles took command in the second quarter, with Pelletier giving the Eagles their first lead at 21-14 with a 1-yard run with 8:13 to go until the break. Skowhegan reached the 50 on its next drive but had to kick it away, and Messalonskee again carved up the Indians for 88 yards, this time with Pelletier’s capping run coming from 5 yards out for a 27-14 lead with 2:55 to go.

The third quarter featured no scoring but featured the 53-yard drive that set up Christopher’s 9-yard touchdown pass to Miller on the first play of the fourth, making it 27-20 and setting the stage for the wild conclusion.

Drew Bonifant — 621-5638

[email protected]

Twitter: @dbonifantMTM

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