Bears outlast Cougars in battle of unbeatens
DIXFIELD -- In a battle between titans something has to give. However, neither the Maranacook or Dirigo football teams wanted to be the first one to blink in a clash Friday night.
The Cougars fought to the bitter end but came up short. Jesse Evans rushed for three touchdowns, including the eventual game winner in third quarter as Maranacook remained unbeaten with a hard fought 26-19 win against Dirigo.
There was a lot on the line, with the winner virtually securing a Class C Campbell Conference home playoff game. The teams had combined to score on the game's first five possessions. The Black Bears used seven different runners in the first 15 minutes.
Evans opened the scoring with a three-yard run and added a 14-yard run, aided by Dirigo horse collar, midway through the second quarter. "It was important for us to respond after they scored."
Still, it was the Cougars, trying for its fourth comeback win in five games, who again benefitted from two defensive stands. This had provided a chance, but a potential tying 60-yard TD run by Spencer Trenoweth was nullified because of an illegal shift.
“You can't make mistakes three weeks in a row and win, especially against a good team and expect to win,” said Dirigo coach David Crutchfield. "They didn't show us anything different that we hadn't prepared for, but our tackling was atrophic. On offense, our runners were hitting the holes, but not always running through them.”
Dirigo (4-1) found itself behind early. However, they used the power running of Tyler Frost (87 yards, 11 rushes), Trenoweth (45 yards) and Thomas Barnett (45 yards). Frost had TD runs of 12 and three yards, the latter following a fumble recovery in fourth quarter. Barnett had a 19-yard score behind blockers in second quarter.
The first Frost TD was followed by the point-after from Nelson Pepin, which gave the Cougars their own lead of the game at 13-12.
The teams traded turnovers, interception by Korey Laliberte of Maranacook and a fumble recovery by the Cougars' Austin Bernard to end the first half.
Maranacook QB Caleb Castonguay (5 of 10 for 61 yards) had success against the zone coverage, connecting with Andrew Lachance for a 15-yard TD. The ball had bounced off Cougar safety Reilly Lombardi.
The Maranacook defense and the rainy weather combined to bottle up Cougar QB Brett Whittermore (7 of 15 for 71 yards), who threw two interceptions, the last by Castonguay on the Maranacook 29 with 1:21 left to play.
The Cougars' runners Zach White shined defensively.