AUGUSTA — Whether it was another completion by Riley Geyer, a cutback from Ashton Cunningham or another smothering surge from the defensive line, everything was going right for the Cony football team Friday night.

Geyer shined in his debut at quarterback and the Rams defense was as stiff as predicted, both leading Cony to a season-opening 42-0 victory over Messalonskee at Alumni Field.

“We knew we’re pretty physical up front defensively,” coach B.L. Lippert said. “And offensively, when you’re breaking in a new quarterback, it’s nice to be able to run the football, get him some easy throws early on, and he showed tonight that he’s got some athleticism and can make some plays on his own.”

Statistically speaking, it was aces across the board for Cony. Geyer finished 13-of-14 for 183 yards and a touchdown while running in for another score, and his deep receiving corps got contributions from Mike Wozniak (four catches, 91 yards) and Reed Hopkins (three catches, 38 yards, touchdown).

“I was not thinking I was going to throw the ball that much,” Geyer said. “I’ve got to thank the line too, they definitely saved me there, because if they weren’t as good as they were, we probably wouldn’t have done what we did.”

The line also helped pave the way for Cunningham, a senior who had a breakthrough game in his first as the team’s starting running back. He ran eight times for 74 yards and two touchdowns, proving adept at both following his blocks and bouncing off tacklers in the open field.


“I’ve been working at it the past few years, just watching the starters who started over me,” Cunningham said. “I got a little faster and then I tried to lift weights as much as I could to get bigger. I’ve been running a lot harder this year than I had the past two years.”

The defense, one of the best in the Pine Tree Conference last season, looked ready to fight for that distinction again. Messalonskee’s running back trio of Cam Goff, Josh Goff and Andrew Everett found little to no room up the middle or around the ends against the Cony front, which held the three Eagle backs to 71 yards on 26 carries.

“We came out ready to go. We were all fired up,” defensive end Nic Mills said. “We worked a lot this week on shutting down their Wing-T offense. They ran a lot of that, they ran a lot of waggle, a lot of toss out of it. We shut that down.”

The defense was dominating, stifling all six Eagles drives in the first half, and the offense wasted no time cashing in. On the first drive, the Rams got a 12-yard run from Cunningham and a 13-yard quick pass to Hopkins to set up a touchdown run from varsity newcomer Jamal Cariglia from 3 yards out.

The narrative didn’t change much for the rest of the half. On the second drive, a 33-yard screen pass to Mike Wozniak set up Geyer’s keeper from a yard out, and on the third, which was set up by a 33-yard Cunningham punt return, Mike Wozniak turned another screen into a 33-yard gain before Geyer found Hopkins for a 6-yard touchdown pass.

Cony made it four scores in four tries after Cunningham took a toss for 26 yards and Geyer first hit Hopkins for 19 yards and then got 13 yards from Matt Wozniak on a screen. Cunningham this time got to close out the drive, rushing in from 2 yards out to make it 28-0 with 3:46 to go in the half.


The first play of the second half made it clear things wouldn’t change after the break. Cariglia took the opening kickoff — the only one Cony received all game — turned right and broke through the Messalonskee coverage, breaking a final tackle with about 15 yards to go before cruising into the end zone for the score.

Cony scored its final touchdown on the next drive, giving it six scores in seven possessions. Screen passes to Chris Sponsler and Mike Wozniak went for 16 and 20 yards, bringing the Rams to the Eagles 19, and after Geyer kept for 12, Cunningham raced in from 7 yards out to make it 42-0 with 1:23 left in the third.

Despite the one-sided score, Messalonskee coach Brad Bishop said he was encouraged by the effort from his young team, which lost 13 seniors after last season.

“That was senior experience over kids coming in from JV,” he said. “I thought our kids were 110 percent better than last week (against Winslow), in all honesty. We were physical, nobody folded their tents, we played hard. We’re going to get a lot better from what I saw tonight.”

Drew Bonifant — 621-5638

[email protected]

Twitter: @dbonifantMTM

Only subscribers are eligible to post comments. Please subscribe or login first for digital access. Here’s why.

Use the form below to reset your password. When you've submitted your account email, we will send an email with a reset code.