ORONO — You can count the number of times, and the number of points, the Leavitt football team had been down all season on one finger. So when the Hornets trailed Maine Central Institute by 12 points early in the first quarter, and by 10 points in the third, you had to wonder how they would respond.

Turns out, resiliency is something the Hornets know quite a bit about.

Wyatt Hathaway’s 19-yard touchdown run with 8:24 to play put Leavitt up for good, and the Hornets forced a pair of MCI turnovers in Leavitt territory down the stretch to hold on for the 30-24 win and Class C state title.

For Leavitt, the win capped an undefeated 12-0 season and was the team’s first state title since 2013. MCI ended the season at 9-3.

“We just had to believe,” Leavitt senior Cam Jordan, who had three sacks and a touchdown catch, said. “We never had a doubt in our mind.”

The Hornets lost in the regional playoffs three straight seasons entering the 2019 campaign, and fell to Fryeburg Academy in the regional final last season hours after the unexpected death of assistant coach Peter Casey.

“I’m just proud of our team,” Leavitt coach Mike Hathaway said. “For them to be down twice and come back, shows the character these kids have.”

Leavitt’s game-winning drive came after the Hornets stopped the Huskies on downs at the Leavitt 25 late in the third quarter. The Hornets marched 75 yards in nine plays, and Wyatt Hathaway’s run to the right corner of the end zone gave Leavitt the lead with 8:24 to play. DaSean Calder’s 2-point conversion run made it 30-24.

“We had our chances and weren’t able to convert,” MCI coach Tom Bertrand said. “For our guys, we expect to be here each year. I wouldn’t say we overachieved. We finally peaked. We just didn’t make enough plays today.”

Down six, the Huskies drove to the Leavitt 43 with 6:30 to play, only to see the drive end with a Mark Herman interception at the Hornets 37. After Leavitt turned the ball over on downs at the MCI 31 with 3:16 left, the Huskies marched to midfield. This time, Wyatt Hathaway’s pick at the Leavitt 30 ended the drive with 1:11 to play. The Hornets took a knee to end the game and begin their celebration.

MCI had the kind of start most coaches would put on their Christmas list. After recovering an onside kick on the opening kickoff, the Huskies went 45 yards in five plays. The first play of the drive saw Dominic Wilson catch a 30 yard pass from Ryan Friend. A few plays later on fourth and 11 from the 16, Wilson caught a tipped ball in the end zone for a touchdown and a 6-0 lead.

After forcing a punt on Leavitt’s first drive, the Huskies scored again quickly. On the second play of the drive, Friend found Will Russell down the middle of the field for a 44-yard touchdown pass, and MCI lead 12-0 not quite four minutes in.

“They started throwing it and we weren’t ready for that,” Jordan said.

With Leavitt stacking the box to stop the run, MCI knew it could put the ball in the air.

“They were in man coverage, and we know we’ve got playmakers out there,” Bertrand said.

“I know where they saw we were stacking the line, they’d throw,” Coach Hathaway said. “Ryan Friend is a great quarterback, and I’d put the ball in his hands, too.”

Leavitt caught the break it needed when, after being forced to punt again, recovered an MCI fumble on the punt at the Huskies 29. Calder capped the drive with a 3-yard touchdown run with 1:53 left in the first quarter to cut MCI’s lead to 12-8.

The Hornets had a six minute scoring drive to end the first quarter and start the second, taking a 14-12 lead when Cam Jordan caught a 7-yard touchdown pass from Wyatt Hathaway on fourth and goal. Hathaway scrambled to his right, buying Jordan time to get open in the right corner of the end zone. Jordan got both feet down in bounds, and Leavitt had the lead.

“I know (Hathaway) can make plays when he scrambles, so I was just trying to get open,” Jordan said.

The lead was short-lived. MCI answered with a five play, 62 yard drive, ending when Nason Berthelette caught a 31-yard touchdown pass from Friend for an 18-14 lead.

The Huskies made it 24-14 when Isaac Bussell scored on a 12 yard run with 9:41 left in the third quarter. Leavitt responded with a scoring drive of its own, cutting the Huskies lead to 24-22 when Calder (20 carries for 126 yards) had a 14-yard touchdown run with 4:37 left in the third.

Jordan’s third sack came when the Huskies were marching on their last chance drive, and put MCI in a third down and 14 situation at the Leavitt 47.

“Cam’s been a beast all year. You can’t block that dude,” Coach Hathaway said.

Russell had five catches for 94 yards for MCI. Friend threw for 230 yards.

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