AUGUSTA — In a game filled with big plays, it was the little ones that paid off for Falmouth.

The Navigators swapped their explosive first-half attack for a ball-control offense in the second half and held off Cony 35-28  in a Class B North football semifinal Friday night at Fuller Field.

Fourth-seeded Falmouth (7-3), which dropped an overtime heartbreaker to Cony by the same score two weeks ago in the teams’ regular-season finale, will face No. 2 Skowhegan for the conference title next weekend. The River Hawks defeated Lawrence 66-48 on Friday. Falmouth and Skowhegan did not meet in the regular season.

The Navigators’ two-headed attack of quarterback Finn Caxton-Smith and running back Indi Backman made gains big and small all night. Caxton-Smith, a track star who holds the school record in the 100 meters, ran for 204 yards and three touchdowns on 18 carries, and Backman added 167 yards and a score on 23 carries.

Taylor Evers chipped in with four carries for 40 yards and a 23-yard TD run in the fourth quarter that capped a 16-play, 8-minute, 45-second drive to give Falmouth a 35-28 lead. The drive included a 4th-and-1 conversion from the Navigators’ own 32-yard line when Caxton-Smith plowed up the middle for 2 yards.

AUGUSTA, ME – NOVEMBER 4: Cony 17 Dreams Hill, left, gets tackled by Falmouth 2 Finn Caxton-Smith during Class B North football semifinal game Friday November 4, 2022 on Cony HighÕs Fuller Field in Augusta. (Staff photo by Joe Phelan/Staff Photographer) Joe Phelan/Kennebec Journal

“What was good was our ability to drive the ball and control the clock because they are so good on the other side,” said Falmouth coach John Fitzsimmons, pointing to Cony’s end of the field. “Finn had a sensational night.

“Cony’s a very good program. If we played 10 times, it would be split down the middle. We were fortunate this time to have the ball last.”


Cony drove the ball downfield on its next possession, but stalled at the Falmouth 45 after Rams quarterback Dom Napolitano fired a pair of incompletions intended for Kam Douin. Falmouth took over from there and ran out the clock, highlighted by Caxton-Smith’s 24-yard completion to Peyton Mitchell — who had missed the last several weeks with an injury — on 4th-and-5 from Cony’s 40.

Throwing mostly screens against Falmouth’s zone defense, Napolitano finished 12-for-17 passing with 149 yards and two TDs, but was only 2-for-4 for 10 yards in the second half as Falmouth played keep-away. He also ran eight times for 56 yards and a score.

After piling up nearly 200 yards of offense and 21 points in the first half, Cony (7-3) was held to just two possessions and seven points in the second half.

“I give them (Falmouth) credit for trucking the ball down the field and pretty much controlling the entire second half,” Cony coach B.L. Lippert said. “It seemed like we were going to have to score every time; we just weren’t able to get many stops against them.”

The second half was the complete opposite of the first, which resembled a video game at times. After Napolitano found Douin (three catches, 82 yards, all in the first half) for a 15-yard TD pass in the first quarter, Falmouth responded with a Caxton-Smith 40-yard keeper down the left sideline for the game-tying score, aided by the blocking of 6-foot-4, 305-pound left tackle Will Gale.

But that play was just the appetizer for the Navigators’ two second-quarter TDs, both helped by Gale’s big blocks. On Falmouth’s first possession of the second quarter, Caxton-Smith dashed 83 yards down the left sideline for the end zone, and Backman followed on the next drive with a 60-yard run — down the left sideline, of course — to give the Navigators a 21-7 lead.


“Me and Indi just love to carry the ball. It just is what is,” Caxton-Smith said.

Cony responded with a pair of big plays of its own to close the period. Napolitano hit Douin for 59 yards to cut the deficit to 21-14, then tied the score at 21-all with 15 seconds left in the half when Caxton-Smith’s pass toward the end zone was picked off by Jasper Parrilli, who ran nearly 100 yards down the right sideline for the pick-six.

Falmouth took the lead for good in the third on Caxton-Smith’s 8-yard TD scamper, set up one play earlier by Backman’s 28-yard run. The always-scrambling Caxton-Smith ran right, found no daylight, turned left and reached the end zone untouched.

“I told them we can move the ball out; I have confidence we can do it,” Fitzsimmons said. “To open up the second half with a touchdown was a great way to set the tone for the game.”

Added Caxton-Smith: “We knew we just had to pound the rock and waste time and we knew we could do it.”

Despite the loss, Lippert still had praise for the Rams’ season, particularly for their perseverance after star runner Caden Schleis-Hooyman was injured late in the season.

“I’m really proud of the effort,” he said. “We continued to battle. Our kids are resilient, being down 21-7 and rallying back to tie it, really speaks to the character they’ve shown all year long. We won a lot of games, had a lot of success, just ran out of gas a little bit tonight.”

Falmouth’s Lucas Dilworth was 5-for-5 on extra points, and Cony’s Douin was 4-for-4.

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