LEWISTON — With his players celebrating off the field, Ryan Libby got a visitor on it.

With the championship plaque in his hand moments after the Skowhegan football team defeated Falmouth 28-20 for the Class B North title, Libby stood just outside the end zone as a reporter approached him for a post-game interview. Suddenly, his daughter, Ada, came sprinting toward her father from the entrance to the field.

“Daddy,” 4-year-old Ada said, “can you believe we won?”

“I can,” the Skowhegan head coach replied before turning back to take a look at his players. “I can believe it.”

Even when times got tough this season, Skowhegan, from top to bottom, believed. Now, the River Hawks have brought home another regional title — and earned the right to play for their first state championship in 44 years.

Adam Savage ran for four touchdowns Friday night as No. 2 Skowhegan (9-2) overcame a 12-0 deficit in the regional title game at Don Roux Field. The victory sent the River Hawks to the Class B title game on Nov. 19 at Fitzpatrick Stadium.


“I can’t explain (how it feels); it’s just amazing, man,” Savage said. “We worked our ass off all season for this. We just kept fighting every game and didn’t give up. Out of any team, we deserve it.”

Although fourth-ranked Falmouth (7-4) faltered on its opening drive, it took the lead on Skowhegan’s first possession. On a screen pass that the River Hawks believed to be incomplete, the Navigators’ Miles Gay picked up what was ruled a fumble and took it 19 yards for the score and a 6-0 lead.

Skowhegan quarterback Adam Savage celebrates after running into the end zone against Falmouth in the Class B North football championship Friday at Lewiston High School. Joe Phelan/Kennebec Journal

Offensive troubles on both sides kept it a 6-0 game until a 3-yard touchdown run by Indi Backman that followed a long pass from Finn Caxton-Smith to Gay made it 12-0 midway through the second quarter.  Skowhegan, though, broke through just 10 seconds before half as a 2-yard touchdown run from Savage capped off an 11-play, 65-yard drive.

“We had a good drive going, and we knew we needed to finish it with little time left so that they didn’t have an opportunity,” Libby said. “Bringing that clock down to zero and ending it with points was huge for us because we knew we were going to get the ball back to start the second half.”

Skowhegan capitalized on the momentum shift, and before long it was up two scores. After a Savage touchdown put Skowhegan up 14-12 with 9:24 left in the second half, a high snap on a Falmouth punt set the River Hawks deep in Navigators territory. The next play, Savage scored from 22 yards out to make it 21-12.

Savage’s fourth touchdown with 7:59 to go in the fourth quarter made it a 16-point game to put the River Hawks within touching distance of a regional title. A 26-yard pass from Caxton-Smith to Peyton Mitchell with a minute left cut the lead back to one score, but Skowhegan recovered the ensuing onside kick and ran out the clock for the victory.


Skowhegan, which allowed 235 rushing yards to Lawrence’s Parker Higgins last week, shut down the Falmouth rushing attack of Caxton-Smith and Indi Backman. Those two players, who had combined for more than 250 yards on the ground last week against Cony, finished with just 71 yards on 19 carries.

Skowhegan celebrates after defeating Falmouth to win the Class B North football championship Friday at Lewiston High School. Joe Phelan/Kennebec Journal

“They run a different offense than Lawrence, and it was easier for us to make adjustments for,” Savage said. “Lawrence runs the Wing-T, and they run more of a spread offense that does trips a lot. It’s just a different game plan, and we were able to execute it.”

Savage finished with 127 rush yards on 33 carries for Skowhegan, which also got help from Tyler Annis (five rushes, 64 yards), Quintcey McCray (five rushes, 38 yards) and Hunter McEwen (six rushes, 31 yards) in the run game. The River Hawks quarterback was just 2 of 8 passing for 12 yards, though Skowhegan receivers did drop multiple passes.

For Falmouth, Caxton-Smith completed 7 of 15 passes for 148 yards and the touchdown pass to Mitchell, who totaled two catches for 71 yards. The Navigators finished with 227 yards of total offense, 79 of which came on the final scoring drive in the fourth quarter.

The game marked the second straight week that Skowhegan fell behind in the first half after previously doing so for most of the first half in the 66-48 semifinal win over Lawrence. With the offense sputtering early, it took another resilient effort to pull out a win over a Falmouth team that had reached peak form in the playoffs.

“I don’t know (we were able to bounce back), but we just had to,” McCray said. “We had practiced the whole week as hard as we could, and we knew we had to stay in and keep fighting. We were ready for this, we had some grit with us, and we were able to push through it.”

Now, Skowhegan will play for its seventh state title when it faces either Portland or South Portland next weekend. It’s a chance for the River Hawks to win their first state championship since 1978, a notion that wasn’t lost on Libby as he held the championship plaque in his left hand and his daughter in the other.

After some hooting and hollering following the win, the celebrations died down among Skowhegan players and coaches. It was a moment symbolic of a team that knows its ultimate goal this season still lies ahead of it.

“This is what every team works for, and we know we’re going to need another great team effort,” Libby said. “This was a gritty win, and we have to be prepared to do that again.”

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