FAIRFIELD — When everyone else wears a tuxedo, the Lawrence High School football team shows up in flannel and jeans. There’s not much razzle dazzle in the Bulldogs offense, but when you run the ball with such success, why make waves?

“We’ve been taught to hit low all year. Those (Mt. Blue) guys are pretty big, and we’re not the biggest line in the state, but I think we put a beating on them,” Lawrence center Mike Roy said after he and his fellow linemen paved the way for 438 rushing yards. Lawrence will play for the Pine Tree Conference Class B championship for a third straight season after it sank Mt. Blue, 43-22, in a semifinal game Friday night at Keyes Field.

Lawrence running back Paul Morneau finds some room during a Pine Tree Conference Class B semifinal game against Mt. Blue on Friday night at Keyes Field in Fairfield. Morning Sentinel photo by Rich Abrahamson

For the second straight season, the Bulldogs will face the mighty Brunswick Dragons in the title game. Top-seeded Brunswick ousted Skowhegan, 44-29, in the other semifinal.

The No. 3 Bulldogs (9-1), which lost in the conference final in 2018 and 17, used a strong ground game to finish off the seventh-seeded Cougars (6-4), whose improbable playoff run came to a close. Mt. Blue upset No. 2 Cony in the quarterfinals.

Sophomore Andrew Trombley ran for 223 yards on 20 carries for Lawrence, scoring a pair of touchdowns. Senior Paul Morneau gained 161 yards on 17 carries, and his two fourth quarter touchdowns helped the Bulldogs put the game away. Junior fullback Kristian Larouche added 59 yards on 13 carries, and his two first-half touchdowns helped stake the Bulldogs to an early lead they would not relinquish.

“We were just saying late in the week we’re running out of depth. We have some kids hurt. We have some kids that were facing some things academically. We told those guys, if you guys continue to be with us and hang with us, we will try to win these two or three we can and get them back for the state game,” Lawrence coach John Hersom said. “This was (Trombley’s) first time at the running back position. He has been a quarterback all season. We moved him into the backfield because he’s got a good running skill set. He did a nice job.”

“That’s a good football team and they execute it well,” Mt. Blue coach Scott Franzose said of Lawrence’s running attack. “There aren’t many in this state that run wing-T better than they do. They do it year in and year out, and they’ve got some pretty good athletes.”

As well as the Bulldogs ran the ball, this game was close late in the third quarter. Ahead 21-10 at the half, Lawrence took the opening drive of the third quarter deep into Mt. Blue territory, but a lost fumble at the Cougar 17 stalled the drive. It was the third straight drive-ending turnover for Lawrence, which had two late second quarter drives end with interceptions, and Mt. Blue took advantage. On fourth down and 6 from the Lawrence 36 a few minutes later, Kyle Fox caught a Hunter Meeks pass down the right sideline and scored, cutting Lawrence’s lead to 21-16.

The Bulldogs answered with a five minute, 10-play, 90-yard drive. Tremble’s 5-yard touchdown run gave Lawrence a 28-16 lead, and the Bulldogs were back in control.

Morneau scored on runs of 48 and 8 yards in the fourth quarter to push the lead to 43-16. The Cougars answered when Kevon Johnson (seven catches for 100 yards and 63 rushing yards) caught a 31-yard pass down the middle from Meeks for a touchdown, cutting the lead to 43-22 with 2:31 to play. The Bulldogs recovered the pooch kick, and ran out the clock.

“We have a lot of depth, and I think that’s because of our practices. Everyone gets a lot of reps in practice, and everyone always goes 100 percent in practice,” Roy said.

Trombley ran for 128 yards on eight carries in the first half, including a 58-yard touchdown run with 4:34 left in the second quarter to give Lawrence a 21-3 lead.

The Cougars found some life late in the half, when Fox made a one-handed interception near midfield and returned it 51 yards for a touchdown, cutting the Bulldogs lead to 21-10. Mt. Blue had another pick in the closing seconds of the half, this time Alex Davis at the Cougar 15, ending another potential Lawrence scoring drive.

Lawrence went 86 yards on its first drive, culminating with a 9-yard touchdown run by Larouche for a 7-0 lead. With 10:47 left in the second, Larouche scored from a yard out to give Lawrence a 14-0 lead.

7311# 01football FAIRFIELD, MAINE – NOVEMBER 8, 2019 Mt. Blue quarterback Hunter Meeks steps away from Lawrence tackler Mike Roy in Fairfield, Maine Friday November 8, 2019.(Staff photo by Rich Abrahamson/Morning Sentinel) Rich Abrahamson

Mason Biello’s 28-yard field goal with 4:56 left in the half got the Cougars on the board and cut the Bulldogs lead to 14-3.

Throughout the season, Meeks has been a threat to run or pass. In this game, Lawrence held the Mt. Blue quarterback in check, limiting him to 2 yards on six carries. Containing Meeks was a point of emphasis in the Bulldogs game prep. Meeks, and none of the Cougar runners for that matter, found success running to the edge.

“We knew he was the key to their offense. He certainly made big plays last week (in Mt. Blue’s 21-20 win over Cony), and the Skowhegan game as well. We didn’t want to be careless in not paying attention to what he can do,” Hersom said.

Added Franzose: “They were playing strong on the ends. We did have some success running inside zone. We stayed with our power game. We just weren’t setting edge very well. We kind of became a little one-dimensional. It wasn’t an offense we like to run. They had a great defensive game plan and they took care of business.”

As Lawrence moves on for a rematch with Brunswick, the only team to beat the Bulldogs in the regular season, Franzose reflected on his first season as Mt. Blue’s coach.

“It’s not what we wanted, but I’m very proud of these seniors. I wish I had three more years with all of them. It’s a great football culture,” Franzose said. “I’m proud to be a part of it, and I know we’re going to have great success moving forward.”

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