AUGUSTA — The Cony football team was celebrating, but Marcus Christopher wasn’t panicking. Not yet.

He had reason to. Skowhegan was losing to Cony by six, time was running out and, following a turnover on downs, the Indians didn’t have the ball. But their quarterback had a feeling the cause hadn’t yet been lost.

“I knew that we had a chance,” Christopher said. “I figured we’d make a play at some point.”

He was right. Chase Carey blocked a punt on the next series, Jamal Dourant recovered and Skowhegan made its last chance stand up, with Hunter Washburn running in from a yard out with 1:41 to play for the winning score in a 14-13 victory at Alumni Field on Friday night.

“It obviously looked bad,” Christopher (17-of-26, 152 yards) said, before gesturing to the Skowhegan coaches. “But these guys on the sideline always believed in us. We just called the plays that could get us in the end zone, and it worked out well.”

Trailing 13-7, Skowhegan seemed to miss its chance when an excellent Cony defense stepped up after the Indians reached the Rams’ 25-yard line, sacking Christopher three straight times to force the turnover on downs with 6:21 to go.

It was a blow, but Indians coach Ryan Libby, like his quarterback, didn’t fret.

“At that point, there was 6-something left, so I was still comfortable,” he said. “We had timeouts in our pocket. The way our defense was playing, I thought we would get another chance.”

The Skowhegan defense held, forcing a three-and-out, but Libby knew the team needed one more break to have an ideal chance at the comeback.

“We had decided, clock running low after our bad drive, we didn’t expect to want to have to drive down the field,” he said. “So we called in the block.”

The play worked perfectly. Carey broke and got in cleanly, deflecting the ball back toward the Cony end zone, and Dourant dove on the ball at the 12-yard line for the game-changing recovery.

“That’s just amazing effort at the right time,” Libby said. “I just challenged the kids in the huddle, I said ‘Listen, we need it now. We’re going to keep (the punt block call) on, the ball needs to be here.’ That’s all on the kids.”

Cony’s defense tried to come up with another stop, with Reed Hopkins stuffing Washburn (18 carries, 42 yards) on the first carry for a loss of 4 yards, but Skowhegan eventually worked to a 4th-and-inches from the 2. Washburn, stifled by the Rams’ front throughout the night, found just enough space to convert with a 1-yard run, then charged in two plays later for the score — which gave the Indians the lead after Zeb Tibbetts’ extra point.

Cony returned the ensuing kickoff to the 45, but couldn’t get any further before turning the ball over on downs.

“You could definitely tell it brought us up and them way down,” Christopher said of the blocked punt. “It was a big swing.”

And a disappointing one for a Cony defense that overcame a sluggish offense that committed three turnovers, turned the ball over on downs three more times and didn’t score after taking a 13-0 lead on its first drive of the second quarter. The Rams’ signature moment seemed to come on that stop late in the fourth, as Christopher guided the Indians down to the Cony 25 before Jake Mills sacked him for a loss of 3 yards, a group of Rams chased him out of bounds for a 5-yard loss and Tommy Hodgkins and Mills combined for another sack and an 8-yard loss on 4th-and-18.

“Our defense was outstanding. … (Christopher) had pressure in his face all night,” coach B.L. Lippert said. “If we punt it away and give them four minutes to go 70 yards, I’m not sure they do that. … It was a great high school football game. It came down to mistakes, and we made the biggest one.”

While the defense, led throughout the game by Nic Mills (two sacks, recovered fumble) kept the Indians off the board, the offense struck first. Quarterback Riley Geyer (12-of-23, 227 yards) ran in an 8-yard score after a Skowhegan fumble with 34 seconds left in the half, and Cony went up 13-0 on a quick 2-yard pass from Geyer to Reed Hopkins with 9:48 left in the third quarter.

A Nic Mills sack on the next series forced another Skowhegan punt, but Cony fumbled, giving the Indians the ball back at the Cony 41. Skowhegan needed four plays to convert, with Washburn running in from a yard out with 5:10 to go in the quarter.

The Skowhegan defense took it from there, setting up the dramatic finish from the offense and special teams.

“I thought our offense struggled to block up front, they really were committing a bunch of guys to the pass, we thought we’d have a little more success on the ground,” Lippert said. “I guess I’ll have to see the film, I’m not entirely sure why we were struggling up front. They were twisting a little bit and stunts a little bit, but nothing I don’t think we can handle.”

Drew Bonifant — 621-5638

[email protected]

Twitter: @dbonifantMTM

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