FARMINGTON — Four days after the explosion at the LEAP building in Farmington that took one life and left 30 people homeless, Mt. Blue took the field for the first time since the tragedy and helped the community come together to enjoy a 48-6 victory over Brewer. 

On the first play from scrimmage, Caleb Haines took the ball up the right side for a 56-yard touchdown run to give the Cougars an early 7-0 lead and provide relief for Mt. Blue and a special moment for the fans in attendance. 

“I don’t know many coaches that wouldn’t say, ‘Sure, a 60-yard play that goes for a score,’” Mt. Blue coach Scott Franzose said. “It’s not the way we draw it up, but we try to teach the guys that we are more about fundamental football but are capable of the big play. If we all execute and do our job we can have the big play.”

Haines finished the game with 105 yards rushing and three touchdowns. 

For a running back to get yards, he first needs blocking up front, and the Mt. Blue offensive line was stout all game. 

“Other than a couple of drives, the second or third drives where it felt like we were controlling the line but not bouncing to that second level, I think for the most part we did a consistent job up there,” Franzose said. “These guys are all upperclassmen, and I think they got a taste of it last year but they know they’re the heart and soul of what we do.

“I think it’s 11 men doing their job. They had their way at times and we are hoping to bottle that and keep it going.”

Mt. Blue’s defense then stuffed Brewer’s fourth-down conversion attempt, something the Cougars did four times Friday. 

On the Cougars’ second offensive drive, Haines again carried the load, with help from quarterback Hunter Meeks, on an 83-yard drive that ended with a 22-yard touchdown by Haines to put Mt. Blue up 14-0 to start the second quarter. 

Again, the maulers up front helped Mt. Blue maneuver its way down the field. 

“They’re amazing,” Meeks said of his offensive line. “I can’t thank them enough, and I tell them that every day of the week. These guys mean the world to me and I wouldn’t be the same without them.”

Mt. Blue lineman Eddie Hebert attributed line’s success to blocking until the whistle. 

“I think it came down to us holding our blocks and staying on them good,” Hebert said. “Our problem has been we get out there and hold it for two seconds and then they make the tackle, but when you get that big play is when you hold your blocks for eight, nine seconds.”

Brewer’s next drive was close to 10 minutes long, but it ended with an fourth-down incompletion on the Cougars’ 7-yard-line. 

After that drive, Mt. Blue’s defense from that drive didn’t give up much the rest of the game. 

“We are very multiple and we like to shift the line and move it, so we kept a lot of our movement stuff while facing the jumbo stuff, the double tights with the wings,” Franzose said. “What we did was a little bit of selling out, man defense. We talked a lot about man defense this week and getting after it with our front eight and they did a great job. Our main job was to stop the run game.”

Brewer intercepted Meeks with two minutes left in the first half and moved 37-yards down the field to score its only touchdown, a 4-yard touchdown pass from Justin Nutter to Cameron Hughes. 

Mt. Blue was even more dominant in the second half. 

The Cougars scored on all five of its drives after halftime, starting with a 10-yard scamper from Meeks off a read-option to make the lead 21-6. 

The Cougars sniffed-out a fake punt to stop the Witches’ next drive. Mt. Bleu’s ensuing drive ended with a 1-yard touchdown run from Haines, his third and final TD of the game. 

“It’s one of those moments where the team we need to be and the team we know we can be finally came together,” Haines said. “Everybody was just doing their job and it came together in the end.”

Kevon Johnson controlled the third possession of the second half, running for 43 yards on the drive and capping it with a 1-yard touchdown run up the middle. 

“Tonight felt complete,” Franzose said. “I was telling them tonight that I was proud of them and to remember how this felt because we need to do this more and more. Across the board, I am happy with a lot of what we did tonight.”

Mt. Blue finished the scoring with a 6-yard touchdown run from Ian Barker, followed quickly by a 24-yard touchdown from Tucker Nichols after Brewer muffed the kick return. 

“It proves to me that as a team we can do anything we want,” Hebert said. “We have the heart and we have the athleticism, and we knew that, that we have the drive and stamina that we needed to pull through.” 

Brewer’s Kaleb Bryant led the Witches with 45 yards, while Nutter finished the contest with 54 passing yards.

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