OAKLAND — Ninety-six yards to go. And only 36 seconds to do it.

Provided the details of the predicament, Falmouth/Greely football coach John Fitzsimmons could only laugh.

“You’re going to give me a heart attack,” he said.

Dramatic as it was minutes later, it was even crazier in the moment. Falmouth/Greely drove nearly the length of the field in just over half a minute, completing the drive with a 20-yard touchdown pass from Cooper Bush to Lucas Dilworth with 4.6 seconds to play to steal a 38-32 victory over Messalonskee Friday night.

Ninety-six yards. And, oh yeah, no timeouts.

“I was thinking ‘We’ve got this,'” receiver Finn Caxton-Smith said. “We practice it all week.”

The Navigators (2-3) looked dead on the Veterans Field turf when, after Messalonskee (2-4) turned the ball over on downs while running out the clock, they took over at their own 4-yard line down 32-30 with 36.4 seconds to play.

“I had very little faith, to be honest,” Dilworth said.

But Bush found Caxton-Smith, sensational all game with 11 catches for 181 yards, for 19 yards to the 23, and then an apparent game-ending interception by Garrett Card was wiped out by a pass interference call. The ball was on the Falmouth 38, and Bush arced a deep pass down the left sideline that Caxton-Smith was able to haul in for 42 yards to the Messalonskee 20 with 9.3 seconds to play.

Caxton-Smith had dropped a touchdown on a similar pass earlier in the game. He wasn’t letting this one go.

Falmouth’s Finn Caxton-Smith (12) is tackled by Messalonskee defenders Garrett Card (8) and Bryce Crowell (28) in Oakland on Friday. Michael G. Seamans/Morning Sentinel

“I just had to not focus on that, because I knew if I focused on that, my whole game would be off,” said the junior, who also ran eight times for 92 yards a touchdown. “I’m thankful for having such a good QB. I think he’s one of the best in the state.”

Bush dropped back to pass on the next play and saw the middle of the field open up, with Dilworth running free. He quickly zipped a pass to the junior tight end, and Falmouth/Greely was, incredibly, in the lead 38-32 after a successful conversion.

“I came up, I broke, the safety dropped and I knew Cooper would find me if I was open,” said Dilworth, who caught three passes for 46 yards and his first two touchdowns of the season. “Luckily he did, and I caught it. It’s amazing.”

The touchdown throw finished Bush’s night at 20-for-31 passing for 286 yards and two scores.

“I have so much faith in my receivers. I know that I don’t have to put the perfect ball on them every time, I can be a little off or give them a 50/50 ball, they’re going to come down with it,” Bush said. “This is the first high-scoring close game I’ve been in. … To end with a game-winning drive, it’s awesome.”

“What a fantastic high school game,” Fitzsimmons said. “It’s clear Messalonskee is a good team. Their quarterback, and his ability for the reads, was sensational.”

Fitzsimmons was referring to Brady Doucette, who ran wild all game. Doucette finished with 28 carries for 254 yards and four touchdowns while operating the Eagles’ read option offense.

“A couple years ago, we probably would have folded,” said Doucette, whose team took a 20-8 lead early in the second quarter before falling behind 30-26 in the fourth. “We came to play today, we just couldn’t close it out in the end.”

Messalonskee High School defensive back Sam Dube (5) breaks up a pass intended for Falmouth’s Max Hau (5) in Oakland on Friday. Michael G. Seamans/Morning Sentinel

Touchdown runs of 20, two and seven yards by Doucette and a 41-yard scoring run by Card helped Messalonskee go into halftime up 26-22, but Falmouth took the lead on Indi Backman’s 19-yard run with 4:23 left in the third.

The Eagles were stopped on fourth-and-3 from the Falmouth 24, and the Navigators marched down to the Messalonskee 13 in eight plays and were going for a potential crippling blow when Card stepped in the way of a Bush pass and picked it off inside the 10-yard line with just under nine minutes to go.

Given life, Messalonskee took advantage, driving 54 yards in seven plays for the touchdown, scored when Doucette ran in from 12 yards out with 6:37 to play.

“Brady was fantastic,” Messalonskee coach Walter Polky said. “He’s one of the top players in our league, he’s the leader of our team. … He’s having a phenomenal senior season.”

The Eagles forced a three-and-out, and seemed to kill all the clock they needed to on their next drive deep into Falmouth/Greely territory.

Instead, the Navigators had all the time they needed.

“We’ll building momentum on that,” Bush said. “We’re just going to continue to build and get better each week, and we’ll be a force in the playoffs.”

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