FAIRFIELD — Adam Savage wasted no time setting the tone for a mammoth Pine Tree Conference football showdown.

It took the Skowhegan senior just 10 seconds to give his team good field position with an interception on the first play from scrimmage. Two plays later, he was in the end zone to give the River Hawks another early jolt in what would be a 41-21 victory over Lawrence.

“That was our plan all week, to come right out here and get going early,” said Savage, a starter for Skowhegan at both quarterback and safety. “We didn’t want to start out slow; we wanted to take it to them right off the bat.”

There were some great and not-so-great moments Friday for Skowhegan, but the River Hawks would never trail in this battle of the No. 1 and No. 2 teams in Class B North. The result marked a winning start to a season of high expectations for Skowhegan, which showed exactly why it was picked as the favorites in the league with a statement performance.

Savage’s interception of Lawrence’s Michael Hamlin on the opening play and 15-yard touchdown run two plays later gave Skowhegan (1-0) a 6-0 lead after just 51 seconds. After forcing a turnover on downs on the ensuing drive, the River Hawks made it 14-0 on the next play after Tyler Annis sprinted 56 yards for a touchdown. 

Skowhegan then forced Lawrence (0-1) to punt but would fumble on the next play, and the Bulldogs capitalized as Hamlin threw a touchdown pass to make it 14-7 with three minutes left in the opening quarter. That score stifled the River Hawks’ momentum a little bit as Lawrence got the ball back and drove to the red zone. 


Yet after Lawrence missed a field goal, Skowhegan mounted a 12-play drive culminating in a Hunter McEwen touchdown run with 4:41 left in the half. Just 28 seconds later, the River Hawks scored again on a Brenden Dunlap run one play after Quintcey McCray took an interception down to the Lawrence 10.

“I couldn’t even see the interception happen, but I heard everybody going crazy, and then I saw Quintcey running down the sideline,” Savage said. “That was a great play for us; you can’t ask for anything more than that. I knew it was pretty much a wrap from there.”

Skowhegan’s Quintcey McCray (3) rushes for extra yards against Lawrence during a football game Friday in Fairfield. Michael G. Seamans/Morning Sentinel

Indeed, there was no looking back for Skowhegan, which stretched the lead to 35-7 early in the second half on another Savage touchdown run. Lawrence cut it back to three scores as Hamlin threw a 7-yard touchdown to Lucas Campbell with 3:41 left in the third quarter, but the River Hawks answered with an eight-play touchdown drive before the Bulldogs added the final score.

Savage completed 4 of 7 passes for 68 yards for Skowhegan and added 62 yards on nine carries on the ground. The River Hawks also got 68 rushing yards on two carries from Annis, 45 rushing yards and 31 receiving yards from McCray, 43 rushing yards on four carries from Bryson Howard and 28 yards on six carries from McEwen. 

Skowhegan’s biggest accomplishment on the night might have been stopping Lawrence running back Parker Higgins, one of Maine’s top players. The senior had just 51 yards on 11 carries as the River Hawks were able to contain him in the run game throughout the contest.

“I don’t think there was any scheme designed to stop Parker; I think it was more their scheme was successful at stopping our whole run game, and Parker is a part of that,” said Lawrence head coach John Hersom. “Their defense is pretty stout, and they had answers for us tonight.”


Lawrence running back Gaige Martin dives for extra yards as he is tackled by Skowhegan’s Clarke Frederick during a football game Friday in Fairfield. Michael G. Seamans/Morning Sentinel

Elsewhere for Lawrence, Hamlin was 6 of 11 passing for 61 yards and two touchdowns and two interceptions while adding 28 yards on three carries on the ground. Gaige Martin rushed for 100 yards (57 of which came on one carry) for the Bulldogs, who got their final touchdown on a 19-yard run from Noah Grass with 39 seconds left.

As big as the win was for Skowhegan, there were moments of sloppiness that head coach Ryan Libby pointed out to his team following the game. The fumble that led to Lawrence’s opening touchdown, for instance, came after a long kick return that would have but the River Hawks up three scores earlier was nullified for a block in the back.

“If we play clean football, we’re up 21-0, and it’s probably a different story,” Libby said. “Football is a game of emotions. We gave them that first punch in the mouth, but then we gave it back with that penalty that set them up with a short field. It took us a little while to get over that.”

It didn’t, though, spoil what was still a convincing road win over one of Skowhegan’s biggest Class B North threats. That’s exactly what Libby and the River Hawks wanted to begin a schedule filled with more challenging teams that are sure to take notice of what his team did Friday.

“They’re all big, but that’s especially true this year,” Libby said. “We play three out-of-league games, and for us, it’s three Class A games. Every week is big, and we came out with a win and came out healthy. I’m happy with that.”

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