PITTSFIELD — Arms raised triumphantly along the Maine Central Institute bench early in the fourth quarter Friday night, in the same instant an audible gasp emanated from the opposite sideline. And then, in a split second, those Husky cheers turned to silent jaws agape as a Nokomis bench exploded in wild jubilation.

In all of the chaos, only Warrior senior David Wilson found a moment of clarity — a loose football, skidding along a muddy Alumni Field following a blocked field goal, which he scooped up into his arms and ran 10 yards for a decisive touchdown — leading No. 4 Nokomis to a stunning 13-0 upset of top-seeded and defending state champion MCI in the Class C North semifinals.

“The ball just happened to hit me, I guess,” Wilson said of his game-changing play. “I was in the right place at the right time.”

Nokomis advances to meet No. 2 Hermon, a winner over Winslow in the other semifinal Friday. The Warriors were bounced from the playoffs by MCI a year ago, and lost to them again by just three points in the regular season finale two weeks ago.

Nokomis (6-4) had nursed a slim 6-point lead from the very early going and ended the third quarter on their only sustained drive of the second half. That drive stalled on fourth and goal at the MCI 5-yard line.

Nokomis coach Jake Rogers called upon junior kicker Cade Kreider to try and extend the Warrior lead on the second play of the fourth period, but Kreider’s kick was blocked as a host of Huskies broke into the backfield. The ball ricocheted back into the pile, and time froze all around Wilson — who kept the play alive by picking up the blocked kick at the 10 and running in for the touchdown that all but put the game away.

“I just knew I had to go,” Wilson said.

“That’s (the) kids doing their thing. That ain’t coaching,” Rogers said. “You can tell them to keep hustling and don’t stop until the whistle — that’s something we preach — but that’s just kids knowing the situation and just selling out until the whistle.”

Wilson’s score was his second of the night. He also carried the ball 23 times for 76 yards in an offensive grind for the Warriors — but it was his play on the blocked field goal he’ll be rightly remembered for.

“That was one of those moments when you say it’s one of those nights,” MCI head coach Tom Bertrand said. “You try to coach for those kinds of situations. We didn’t say specifically that’s a live ball, and that’s on us. But those things happen, and their kids made a heads-up play. It just shows the will that they had to get it done.”

It was hard for Bertrand not to see the significance of the play, even though his Huskies trailed by just 13 points with all but 13 seconds of a full quarter remaining.

MCI generated more yardage in penalties (73) than total offense (70) in the first half, making the deficit feel far greater. The Huskies managed only 47 yards more in the second half, just 10 of those through the air on a 6 of 20 night passing for sophomore quarterback Ryan Friend in a steady rain throughout.

“We thought it might be to our advantage if the weather was going to be kind of sloppy, but it didn’t faze them at all,” Bertrand said. “We couldn’t get anything clicking. We struggled with them up front. They were at the point of attack a lot, and we just couldn’t get anything rolling.”

Nokomis senior Quinton Richards was involved defensively all night, including two second-half tackles for losses that prevented the Huskies from moving forward.

The victory marked the first shutout by the Warrior defense all season.

“We could have done it multiple times. We’ve just got to put it all together,” Richards said. “We played as a team, didn’t get on each other. Mistakes happen, we’ve learned that, but we put it in the past and move forward.”

“We don’t do much defensively. It is what it is, but we just expect the kids to do their job and everyone has a responsibility,” Rogers added. “If one piece isn’t working, it really doesn’t work… When they’re on the same page, they can be pretty good.”

The rain held off for just the first few minutes Friday night, but it was enough to give the Nokomis offense a fortunate break. The Warriors took the opening kick-off and sprinted 61 yards on just five plays, capped by Wilson’s 17-yard touchdown run for a 6-0 lead just 1:48 in.

Quarterback Andrew Haining was economical, completing 6 of 10 passes for 86 yards.

Travis Barrett — 621-5621

[email protected]

Twitter: @TBarrettGWC

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