ORONO — The Maine Central Institute football team had three points and a halftime lead all but wrapped up. But Tom Bertrand wanted more.

So the Huskies got creative. Mad scientist creative.

“It was almost in unison,” associate head coach Woody Moore said. “We looked at each other and said ‘Bullseye.’ “

With the ball just 6 yards from the end zone and the Huskies looking to stretch a slim advantage, they dipped deep into the playbook. Linemen started running around. Players dropped back.

And then it was all set in motion with a stunning result. “Bullseye” was a hit, a touchdown pass from Ryan Friend to Andrew Whitaker that gave the Huskies a 21-13 lead and served as the key play anchoring MCI’s 30-13 upset of Cape Elizabeth at the Alfond Stadium Friday night.

“The ‘mo’ came over to our sideline after that play,” Moore said. “That was huge.”

And it nearly didn’t happen. Up 14-13, MCI drove to the Cape Elizabeth 6-yard line with 46 seconds left in the half before two incomplete passes and a run for no gain left it with a fourth-and-goal with 28 seconds left, prompting Bertrand to send out kicker Devon Varney to bump the lead to 17-13.

That was the plan, at least. Until Cape Elizabeth coach Aaron Filieo called timeout to freeze Varney, leading Bertrand to consider going to a play assistant coach Lincoln Robinson saw Iowa run two weeks ago against Ohio State, and which the Huskies had practiced during the week just in case the opportune moment came up.

With the Huskies on the verge of a gut punch, the opportune moment had arrived.

“I’ve had little birdies in my ear all season long about running these trick plays,” Bertrand said. “Coach Moore drew that up this week, I said ‘You’re out of your mind.’ We practiced it, he said ‘Do it.’ I said ‘Let’s go do it.’ “

The timeout got Bertrand to send the Huskies’ offense back onto the field. Filieo called another timeout to get his normal defense into the game, and Bertrand again opted against the field goal and kept his offense on the field.

“They called timeout, and (Moore) said ‘Go run it. It’s going to work,’ ” Bertrand said.

The call came in to Friend, who couldn’t believe first that the staff was calling the play, and then that it was sticking with it.

“I was very surprised. I was very nervous,” he said. “I thought of what go wrong with that play.”

The Huskies took the field, and things quickly got weird. Seven of the 11 Huskies ran to the left side of the field, leaving only quarterback Friend behind center David Young and Pedro Matos and Whitaker flanked to Young’s left and right, respectively. The realignment unnerved the Capers, who were called for an encroachment penalty to move the ball to the 3-yard line.

And then the madness resumed. Again MCI frantically raced all over the line, leaving only three MCI players against four Cape defenders. It looked comical, like a disaster in the works. Like the Indianapolis Colts’ fourth-down blunder against the New England Patriots in 2015. Like it could never work.

Only it worked. Friend took the snap from Young and, showing a poise belying his freshman status, calmly drifted back and lobbed a pass toward the end zone just before the Cape defense closed in.

“I had confidence,” Friend said. “When I saw them coming at me I got a little nervous, but I sprinted out a little bit and let it fly.”

The pass went right to Whitaker, who broke right inside a Caper defender and plucked the ball right out of the icy air, making it 21-13 MCI.

“It was a play we had worked on all week. We knew we were going to have to run it at some point in the game,” Whitaker said. “We knew it was going to be a big turn for a score, and just put the other team down.”

A celebration broke out around Whitaker, wild and unrestrained, the kind rarely seen for a second-quarter score. And the kind seen from a team feeling it’s on its way to a state championship.

The party continued in the second half, with Matos’s 93-yard touchdown run in the third quarter providing an exclamation point. For the second straight year, the Huskies are state champions. This time, they reign in Class C.

And thanks to a little trickeration, they made the most memorable play on a night they’ll never forget.

“I felt like it was ours,” Whitaker said. “That play … showed we were really here to win, and we weren’t going to let the biggest team in the Southern class beat us.”

Drew Bonifant — 621-5638

[email protected]

Twitter: @dbonifantMTM

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