TOPSHAM — The Mt. Ararat football team did things Saturday it had never done before.

The Eagles, seeded No. 2 in the eight-man Large School division, hosted a football playoff game for the first time. Then they claimed their first playoff win, pulling away in the second half against No. 3 Yarmouth for a 52-20 triumph.

“We’ve always made it as eighth seed in the first round and lost,” said Mt. Ararat senior fullback/defensive lineman Riley Morin, who rushed for 248 yards. “To make it in as the second seed and to be able to host a playoff game and win, it’s history.”

Mt. Ararat (7-2) will play Friday night at No. 1 Maranacook of Readfield in the Large School final. The winner advances to Maine’s first eight-man state championship game, Saturday, Nov. 16, at Fitzpatrick Stadium in Portland.

Maranacook (9-0) is the only team to beat Mt. Ararat, 38-18 on Sept. 14, and then 34-24, two weeks ago.

Yarmouth (4-5) made the Eagles work hard through the better part of three quarters, playing more physically and purposefully than in a 44-8 home loss to the Eagles.

“This was an immense success,” said Coach Jim Hartman of his young team. “The last five, six weeks, these kids have played great football and they’ve learned how to practice.”

The Clippers led 12-8 in the first quarter. Mt. Ararat scored the next two touchdowns, and by adding 2-point conversions each time, led 24-12 at the break.

Yarmouth’s Wyatt Sullivan returned the second-half kickoff 58 yards, and on the first play from scrimmage, quarterback Jack McGrath (20 carries, 189 yards) bolted 32 yards for a touchdown, then barreled in for the 2-point conversion to cut the deficit to 24-20.

McGrath scored on a 71-yard run in the first half.

“It was a big step up from the last time we played these guys,” said McGrath, a junior. “Not everything worked out, but it was a good way to end the season.”

Mt. Ararat regained control when speedster Holden Brannan (15 carries, 194 yards, three TDs) went 68 yards for a score.

Morin took over on the next two drives, gaining 123 yards on his final four carries. His 57-yard scoring run with 2:24 left in the quarter featured him hurdling through a tackle attempt 10 yards downfield. His 10-yard touchdown that put Mt. Ararat ahead 46-20 prompted both teams to play their reserves over the final 10:18.

Saturday’s game was played at the rustic Topsham Fairgrounds, on the youth football field where the Mt. Ararat players learned the game. At least 500 fans attended.

Mt. Ararat revived its football program in 2002, starting in Class A, then shifting to Class B like many other schools. The Eagles were 14-55 overall between 2011-18, enduring multiple coaching changes before former coach Frank True returned and the school made the decision to shift to eight-man football. Seniors like Morin, Brannan, and two-way starters and hard-hitting defenders Cody Holman and Daniel Jackson have led this year’s team.

“These kids have endured so much the last four years, being on the short side of a lot of games,” True said. “To do this in front of the crowd today was special,” True said.

 

 

 

 

 

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