NEWPORT — Offensively, Maine Central Institutes’s game plan wasn’t fancy, but it was certainly effective. In a Class C North quarterfinal football game Saturday at Nokomis, the Huskies were strictly smashmouth, running the ball 65 times for 360 yards. The result was a 33-24 win, and postgame smiles from the offensive line and backs.

“Run them downhill. Run them over,” MCI junior Seth Bussell, who saw some time at both guard and fullback, said. “It feels pretty good. It just shows we can compete. We don’t have to hide in our cave or go home.”

No. 6 MCI, now 5-4, will play at No. 2 Winslow (8-1) in the regional semifinals next Saturday. No. 3 Nokomis ends the first playoff season in team history at 6-3.

Adam Bertrand led MCI with 169 yards and two touchdowns on 26 carries. Bussell added 108 yards and a touchdown on 19 carries, while Pedro Matos chipped in 72 yards and a touchdown on 14 carries.

“We’ve been doing that. That’s our bread and butter,” MCI coach Tom Bertrand said of the Huskies power run game. “This week we were able to get off the ball and win the battle up front. They stopped us a couple of times and had some answers, but overall our front and our backs did a great job.”

MCI had four scoring drives of 10 or more plays. A 17-play, 82-yard drive that took 7:17 off the clock in the second half effectively clinched the game for the Huskies. Adam Bertrand capped the drive with a 2-yard touchdown run with 7:48 left in the game, giving MCI a 27-12 lead.

Nokomis answered quickly, when Colby Pinette scored on a 12-yard run with 6:33 to play. The 2-point conversion pass was intercepted, and MCI’s lead was 27-18. The Huskies again mounted a long drive, this time going 53 yards in 11 plays and 5:17, scoring on a 1-yard plunge by Bussell with 1:13 to go.

“They’re bigger, a little bit stronger, a little bit faster. It’s a hard thing to stop. You can draw up a lot of stuff on the board, but when they’re going, it’s hard,” Nokomis coach Jake Rogers said. “This downhill running attack, you’re either ready for it or you’re not.”

The Warriors scored again, this time a 22-yard pass from Andrew Haining to Alex Costedio with 18 seconds left for the final score. Haining threw for 192 yards and two touchdowns. His first touchdown pass came with 3:58 to play in the first quarter, a 12-yard strike to Brock Graves coming on a slant from the right, and gave Nokomis a 6-0 lead. The highlight of the drive was a 30-yard Haining-to-Logan Lilly pass on a fake punt at midfield.

“That gave us a quick spark,” Rogers said.

The spark was short-lived. MCI took the lead for good on a 1-yard Bertrand touchdown run on the second play of the second quarter. With 8:40 left in the second, Matos scored on a 12-yard run for a 14-6 lead. The Warriors pulled within two points, 14-12, when Haining scored on a fourth and goal keeper from inside the one. With 47.5 seconds left in the half, MCI quarterback Ryan Friend scored on a 1-yard keeper for a 21-12 halftime lead.

Costedio led the Warriors run game with 56 yards on 13 carries.

“They’ve got some athletes. They spread it out. Their quarterback is a great athlete and they’ve got some receivers and some good backs. We knew that. They weren’t the No. 3 seed for no reason. They did some good things,” Coach Bertrand said.

Travis Lazarczyk — 861-9242

[email protected]

Twitter: @TLazarczykMTM

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