AUGUSTA — After rising from the depths of a one-win season a year ago, Yarmouth High’s football team wasn’t fazed by having to drive 86 yards with time winding down in the eight-man Large School state final Saturday at Cony High’s Fuller Field.

Facing a 26-24 deficit against Waterville, Yarmouth put together a 16-play drive that lasted nearly seven minutes, capped by Michael McGonagle’s 2-yard run with 32 seconds remaining. When Rufus MacVane recovered a squib kick on the ensuing kickoff, the Clippers had a dramatic 30-26 victory and the program’s first Gold Ball since winning back-to-black Class C titles in 2010-11.

“We’ve worked so hard for this,” said McGonagle, who ran 39 times, including 12 on the final drive, for 198 yards and two TDs. “It’s just pure joy. I’ve never been happier in my entire life.”

Yarmouth (10-1) let a 12-point lead slip away in the third quarter, then was in danger of falling further behind when Waterville (6-4) drove to the 2 in the fourth quarter. But a high snap on fourth-and-1 allowed Yarmouth to get the ball back at its 14.

“I was 100 percent confident,” said senior workhorse Spencer LaBrecque, who ran for 93 yards and two TDs on 18 carries. “Once I saw (the bad snap) happen, I knew it was ours.”

Yarmouth’s longest play on its winning drive was 19 yards, but the Clippers rode the blocking of LaBrecque and the running of McGonagle down the field. LaBrecque gained 3 yards on fourth-and-inches from the 5, setting the stage for McGonagle to bull in from the 2.


“That’s how you play football,” said Yarmouth Coach Jim Hartman. “That’s why we don’t throw it. Just run the rock.”

The ensuing kickoff was supposed to be sent deep, but instead it squibbed to the right sideline, where MacVane fell on the ball to clinch it.

“I started going down the field, then I saw the ball right in front of me and I dove on it,” said MacVane.

“This is really beautiful,” added Hartman. “It’s really good to bring it back this back to the town of Yarmouth and turn this program around.”

The Clippers made it look easy on their first drive, going 66 yards in 11 plays to take an 8-0 lead on a McGonagle 3-yard run and a conversion rush from LaBrecque.

Waterville, which lost 56-0 to Cheverus in last year’s state final, quickly answered. Sophomore quarterback Dustan Hunter hit Spencer Minihan for a 9-yard touchdown on fourth-and-goal, but the 2-point conversion failed.


The Purple Panthers then went ahead 12-8 lead with 3:47 left in the second quarter, as Hunter broke away for a 59-yard touchdown. Yarmouth, though, regained the lead on a LaBrecque 2-yard run and a McGonagle conversion rush just before halftime.

When LaBrecque scored again, from 18 yards, midway through the third quarter and Sam Bradford added a conversion pass to Kai Sullivan, Yarmouth appeared on the brink of breaking of it open.

But Waterville converted a fourth-and-11, then Hunter and Minihan hooked up for a 20-yard score, cutting the lead to 24-18.

Then, with just 30 seconds to go in the third quarter, Gage Hubbard intercepted a Bradford pass and returned it 60 yards for a touchdown. This time, the Panthers added a 2-point conversion for a 26-24 lead, as Hubbard caught a pass from Hunter.

Hunter finished with 132 yards rushing and 99 passing, but Waterville’s quest for its first state championship since 1974 fell agonizingly short.

“There were a couple situations where we could have made a play and gotten the ball back, but (Yarmouth) made just a couple more clutch plays than us today,” said Waterville Coach Isaac LeBlanc. “I hate losing, but I’m not disappointed in my team at all. They battled every snap. It was a pleasure coaching them this year.

“The guys did great in the offseason and came into the season strong. We faltered a bit toward the end of the regular season. We had to look ourselves in the mirror and we went on a great run and our guys left it all on the field today.”

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