WALES — Stacen Doucette knew what he and his Oak Hill High School football team were up against. Madison came into the weekend sporting Class D’s best offense, so the Raiders tried to gum up the works. They rolled out a double wing set, brought the receivers in and ran the ball over and over again. Anything to keep the Bulldogs offense on the sideline and out of rhythm.

It looked like it could work. For a while, at least.

The Bulldogs were hindered in the first half but found their form in the second, shaking off a pair of turnovers to pull away from the Raiders and come away with a 28-13 victory Saturday afternoon.

“We never expect anything to be easy, especially against these guys,” said coach Scott Franzose, whose Bulldogs (5-1) got two touchdowns from Jacob Meader and rushing scores from quarterback Evan Bess and tailback Sean Whalen. “They came with a hell of a gameplan. … Part of it was keeping our offense off the field, slowing things down, and it took us a while to adjust to that. They did a pretty good job with it. That’s a pretty tough football team over there.”

One game after working out of a spread attack and taking to the air 21 times in a loss to Wells, Oak Hill (2-4) turned back the clock in an attempt to neutralize the high-powered Bulldogs. The Raiders attempted only five passes through the first three quarters, opting instead to bunch the players in close and rely on an assortment of counters, inside pitches and misdirection.

The hope, Doucette said, was to control time of possession against a team that had shown a knack for starting fast and burying its opponents.

“We were trying to get first downs and keep the clock rolling. We were hoping to do that,” he said. “That’s a good team. … They’re one of the best offenses in the state of Maine. They might have one of the best tailbacks and QBs in the state of Maine, and I thought we played well.”

The Raiders’ ball-control scheme limited the Madison chances, but while the Bulldogs were slowed, they weren’t stopped. Madison’s first strike came from an apparent drive-killing setback, as a pair of penalties for a face mask and unsportsmanlike conduct saddled the Bulldogs with a second-and-27 from their own 49-yard line on their second drive of the game. They shook off the predicament on the very next play, however, with Bess firing a pass downfield to Meader, who turned and ran the rest of the way to the end zone for a 7-0 lead with 2:49 left in the first quarter.

“I just wanted to show them what I could do. … I wanted to help out the team,” Meader said. “I just wanted to pull it in, because a couple plays before that it was a pick and I was too deep. I just wanted to haul it in.”

Meader’s awareness paid off on the next Madison drive. After catching a screen pass for a 27-yard gain, Whalen took a handoff and raced through a gaping hole up the middle, getting hit as he extended for the goal line. The ball popped out before he crossed, but Meader won a race to the loose ball and pounced on it for another score to make it 13-0 with 7:53 left in the half.

“I didn’t have any idea, so I just jumped on it and hoped for the best,” Meader said. “I just saw it rolling, saw other guys running after it and made sure I was the first one.”

Despite the scores, it was a sluggish start to the game for the Bulldogs. Oak Hill notched a pair of interceptions, nearly had a third at the end of the first half, and kept Madison off the board in the third quarter. The Raiders couldn’t eat away at the deficit, however, and Madison found its rhythm in time to put the game away. Whalen (11 carries, 71 yards) finished off an 11-play, 64-yard drive that straddled the third and fourth quarters with a 4-yard run, making it 21-0 with 10:53 to play, and Bess (nine carries, 110 yards) broke free for a 41-yard touchdown run down the right sideline to bump the lead to 28-0 with 5:17 to go.

“We did some good things. I think we broke our rhythm offensively, that’s a lot on coach Doucette and Oak Hill and what they did,” Franzose said. “It’s not the rhythm we’re used to offensively. Defensively, I thought we did a great job piling up and showing we can play tough as well.”

While waiting for the offense to click, the defense was able to take over. Led by Cruz Poirier (26 carries, 108 yards), Oak Hill ran 42 times for 141 yards, but couldn’t find the big play that it needed to challenge on the scoreboard early. The Raiders finally got on the board in the last minute, with Reid Cote bulling in from 3 yards out 24 seconds left and, after a successful onside kick, Darryn Bailey (six catches, 63 yards) brought in a 29-yard touchdown reception from Gavin Rawstron with 14 seconds remaining.

“That’s what we try to do around here. We try to build each week,” Doucette said. “I believe we might have one of the toughest schedules around, and we’re fighting for our playoff lives this week.”

Drew Bonifant — 621-5638

[email protected]

Twitter: @dbonifantMTM

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