GARDINER — For now, the boot resides with the Cony football team.

Sparked by the second half play of quarterback/safety Dom Napolitano — who ran for 137 yards on 24 carries and had two rushing touchdowns, while also returning a fumble 60 yards for a touchdown — the Rams ran away with a 27-12 victory over rival Gardiner on Friday night at Hoch Field.

“It’s a really good win,” Napolitano said. “It’s a rivalry, so coming into the game, it was really intense. But we played well, considering the conditions. It’s a great win.”

Friday was the 144th game in the state’s oldest rivalry. Cony now has a 76-58-10 lead in the series.

“It feels awesome,” said Cony running back Elijah Klaiber, who had 91 yards on 16 carries. “Last year, senior year, beating (Gardiner) on their turf. It feels really good.”

Up 7-6 after three quarters, the Rams (5-2) broke the floodgates open in the fourth. The period opened with a 3-yard touchdown run by Napolitano, capping a 14-play, 66-yard drive. On Gardiner’s next possession, Napolitano found the ball on a fumble and sprinted down the sideline for the score and a 20-6 lead.


“That was definitely the turning point in the game,” Napolitano said. “(The ball) just got popped out on the tackle and I just saw it, scooped it and scored. It wasn’t really me (that made the play), I just grabbed the fumble.”

“It was a huge play,” Cony head coach B.L. Lippert said. “I think some people underestimated his athleticism, because it doesn’t look like he’s running that fast. Also, he finished some runs (on offense) where it was third and 2, and he pushed the pile and got a first down. He’s about 160 (pounds) but he runs hard and he’s a tough kid.”

Napolitano also had an interception late in the fourth quarter for the Rams.

Cony’s Dom Napolitano runs for a 48-yard touchdown and gives Cony a 27-12 lead over Gardiner with 1:54 left in the football game Friday at Hoch Field in Gardiner. Joe Phelan/Kennebec Journal

The Tigers (3-4) refused to quit, and marched 70 yards on eight plays before Colton Dube scored on a 1-yard run to cut the lead to 20-12.

“Our big focus this week was effort, and giving total effort throughout the entire game,” Gardiner head coach Pat Munzing said. “It’s what we challenged them up front, and they were ready. All through practice this week, there was an increased level of focus and attention. (Cony) didn’t take a lot of shots downfield, but that’s because we really didn’t give them any.”

Napolitano sealed the win on Cony’s next possession, taking a designed run up the middle and racing for a 48-yard score. Kam Douin’s extra point put Cony up 27-12.


Gardiner tallied the first score of the game in the first quarter, when Dube returned a Cony fumble 40 yards for a touchdown and a 6-0 lead.

Cony responded late in the second quarter, when Napolitano hit a wide open Douin on a seam route for a 12-yard scoring strike. Douin’s extra point gave Cony the 7-6 lead.

“(Douin) slid by there in coverage and Dom just worked it back across his body,” Lippert said. “Threw a wet ball, the receiver had to catch a wet ball, so I was a little nervous, but Kam Douin is a great athlete, too.”

Rainfall was consistent and heavy at times during the game, nullifying the passing game for both teams.

Gardiner was led offensively by quarterback Wyatt Chadwick, who kept the Tigers alive with his scrambling ability. Chadwick rushed for 102 yards on 10 carries.

“He’s a playmaker, and when you put the ball in his hands, magic happens,” Munzing said. “To set that stuff up, you’ve got to do stuff up front first. You’ve got to do the grind work, you have to get gritty. We were able to do that early on and do what we were kind of setting out to do with our plan, being able to grind some stuff out, then bounce out and go back to our typical spread stuff.”

Friday night’s game was chosen as part of the Great American Rivalry Series, presented by the United States Marines. A trophy — as well as the traditional Cony-Gardiner rivalry boot — was presented to the Rams after the game. Napolitano was also chosen as the game’s most valuable player.

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