GARDINER — The Gardiner football team needed a win. And it needed to take two weeks of frustration out on another team.

On Friday night at Hoch Field, the Tigers did both.

Behind the play of quarterback Sean Michaud, and a stout defense that forced four interceptions in one half of play, the Tigers beat Hampden Academy 37-20 and showed the fight of a team determined to stay in competition in the Class B North ranks.

“It’s certainly a pick-me-up,” Gardiner coach Joe White said. “The kids dialed in all week, they practiced really well, and they needed to get the win. The Pine Tree Conference is unforgiving, and you can’t let your guard down for a second.”

Michaud led a successful aerial attack for the Tigers (1-2). He finished 20 of 37 passing for 271 yards and two touchdowns. He also ran for a score.

Michaud’s top target was George Ricker, who had two touchdown receptions from Michaud, both in the first half.

“(Ricker) is a kid that came in, hadn’t played varsity all season, and he just showed up big in a big game,” Michaud said.

On defense, Gardiner forced Hampden quarterback Kaden Beloff to throw four interceptions in the first half. Logan Grover picked off two passes in the half, but it was Kyle Adams who made the big defensive play of the half, returning an interception 30 yards for a touchdown early in the second quarter. Adams made the play despite the fact that he was playing with a broken hand, and played with a club-like cast.

“He said he was going to have a pick-six all week,” Michaud said. “I think his dad owes him a hundred dollars now, too.”

Gardiner managed to hold Hampden to 85 offensive yards in the first half.

“It was great to score on defense and get some turnovers,” White said. “We’ve been playing really good defense, we’ve just had some tough breaks. In the first couple of games, we dropped interceptions, we had fumble returns for touchdowns called back back. Tonight, things went our way, put some points on the board defensively. That helps the offense out a little bit.”

Connor Bell added some insurance for Gardiner in the kicking game, nailing a 27-yard field goal for the Tigers in the first quarter.

It was a needed win for Gardiner, which lost its first two games of the season by a total of three points. The Tigers fell 21-20 to Windham in the season opener Sept. 6, and fell 22-20 to Brewer on Sept. 13.

“I think it’s really important that we found a way to finish a game,” Michaud said.

Hampden (0-3) refused to quit in the second half. Beloff found a connection with receiver Jackson Thayer, tossing two touchdown passes. Beloff finished 13 of 28 for 144 yards. Thayer had seven receptions for 125 yards.

 

Dave Dyer — 621-5640

[email protected]

Twitter: @Dave_Dyer

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