OAKLAND — After sleepwalking to victory in its first two games, the Messalonskee football team found itself in a much different position in its latest contest.

Midway through the second quarter of a Pine Tree Conference showdown against Cony, the Eagles trailed the Rams 14-7 with the visitors driving in the red zone. Yet with the help of a key defensive play and a late first-half drive, Messalonskee would reverse its fortunes and ride momentum to victory in a tough Class B North battle.

Messalonskee bounced back from its first deficit of the season to claim a 39-21 victory over Cony on Friday at Veterans Field. Tatum Doucette (17 of 31 passing, 231 yards, three touchdowns, two interceptions; 131 rushing yards) racked up 362 yards of total offense for the Eagles, who outgained the Rams 484-248 overall.

“We haven’t been losing in a game yet this year, and when we were in that spot, it kind of just set a fire in our eyes,” said Messalonskee’s Garrett Card. “We said, ‘Everybody, we can beat these guys,’ and we just worked together as a team, kept going and kept driving the ball down the field and punching it in.”

Messalonskee’s defense looked strong on the opening drive as it pushed Cony backward for a three-and-out. The Eagles (3-0) then embarked on an 11-play, 57-yard scoring drive that culminated with a Sam Dube touchdown run on fourth-and-1 to make it 7-0 with 5:49 remaining in the first quarter.

The Rams, though, answered two plays later as Parker Sergent caught a short pass from Parker Morin over the middle and sprinted past the Eagles 55 yards for a score. After forcing a turnover on downs, Cony (1-2) then went 80 yards on 10 plays, taking the lead on a 15-yard touchdown pass from Morin to Rocco Napolitano early in the second quarter.


“We knew they were going to come in and play tough, and (those two touchdowns), that was a wake-up call,” said Messalonskee head coach Blair Doucette. “We knew it was going to be a good game coming in; they have good coaches and good players, and they tested us early.”

Messalonskee’s Jack Kinney (10) defends Cony eceiver Parker Sergent during a football game Friday in Oakland. Michael G. Seamans/Morning Sentinel

It looked as if Messalonskee might fall even further behind late in the half as Cony drove to the red zone after Sergent intercepted Tatum Doucette. But the Eagles got an interception from Brady Brunelle to halt the visitors’ drive, and with 26 seconds left in the half, a diving Card touchdown reception tied it at 14.

“I feel like Brunelle’s interception really changed the game for us,” Card said. “They were driving down the field, and that was a huge play that got our team going crazy and got our crowd going and into it. It definitely gave us some momentum into that drive, and we were able to go down and score.”

Going 67 yards on 15 plays in 7:16 to begin the second half, Messalonskee retook the lead at 20-14 on a 7-yard pass from Doucette to Drake Brunelle. The Eagles then blocked a punt, and on the very next play, the home team made it 26-14 as Doucette hit Card for a 22-yard touchdown.

Early in the fourth quarter, Cony stopped the bleeding as it capped off a 92-yard drive with a 13-yard touchdown run by Anderson St. Onge. After a failed onside kick went out of bounds, though, Doucette restored Messalonskee’s two-score lead with a 65-yard touchdown run that made it 32-21.

“We were hoping to flip the script there a little bit, but the kicker just mishit it, and then they do it on the next play,” said Cony head coach B.L. Lippert. “(Doucette) is a really talented runner, and he just made cutback after cutback after cutback. That really took the wind out of our sails.”


Dube, who scored Messalonskee’s final touchdown from 19 yards out with 4:51 left to play, finished with 114 yards on 20 carries. Card had six catches for 102 yards for the Eagles in the receiving game, and Brady Brunelle had five catches for 55 yards in addition to two interceptions on defense.

Parker Morin completed 12 of 28 passes for 155 yards for Cony with Sergent catching six of those passes for 96 yards. St. Onge ran for 79 yards on 10 carries for Cony, which suffered what Lippert called likely season-ending injuries to key players Napolitano, Conner Heidle and Tyler Pelletier.

“We lost those three two-way starters in the first half, and that was probably the turning point with us putting in freshmen and sophomores,” Lippert said. “It’s just hard over the course of the game to get guys who haven’t played a lot of reps to play a significant role, and (Messalonskee) made great plays. Tatum threw the ball well.”

The win saw the Eagles eclipse last year’s 2-6 record in just three games. Doing so after coming back from a potentially difficult spot early in the game, their quarterback said, was rewarding after they faced far less adversity in the wins over Falmouth and Gardiner.

“It told us that, if we play together and play as a team, we can come back from anything,” Tatum Doucette said. “We just have to battle through those moments, stick with it and stick together, and that’s why we were able to win.”

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