BRUNSWICK — Bessey. Bandouveres. Brunswick. Beast of B-East.
If that all has a nice ring to it, five touchdowns in their first five possessions of the Pine Tree Conference football championship last Friday night sounded even better to the Dragons.
Junior Will Bessey scored two of those and had his second monster game of the playoffs for No. 1 Brunswick in a 48-19 rout of No. 3 Lawrence for the Class B East championship.
Brunswick (9-1) won its first regional title since 2003 and will face Marshwood (10-0) Saturday at 6 p.m. at Fitzpatrick Stadium in Portland for state supremacy.
“It means everything, not just for the program but for the town,” said senior fullback and defensive end Alex Bandouveres, who scored on both a 3-yard run and 21-yard interception return. “Last year making it this close and now getting it, for us seniors especially it means a ton, and for the whole town and our families and friends.”
Bessey, who topped 300 yards in the semifinals against Messalonskee, had 25 carries for 203 yards and two touchdowns.
In addition to his scores of 3 and 8 yards, he also had a 38-yard reception from Thomas Hanson to set up the Bandouveres rush.
“It was just our normal offense. Our ‘vanilla’ offense, I’d say. It was working for us,” Bessey said. “Our linemen, they killed it tonight. I have so much respect for those guys. I love them. They did the job.”
Andrew Cilea, Devin Hewson, Tristan Graves, Josh Goddard and Nick Osbourne ripped open the holes at the point of attack, and Brunswick bolted through them to the tune of 324 yards on 60 attempts.
Hanson and Cam Berry each added a rushing TD. Hanson, a junior, completed all three of his throws for 81 yards, including a 26-yard TD to Corban Teel.
Lawrence (8-3) struggled after scoring on its first series. Seven of the Bulldogs’ possessions went three-and-out. An eighth ended in Bandouveres’ pick-six on third down.
“They didn’t make the plays when they needed to, and it allowed the thing to snowball in our favor,” Brunswick coach Dan Cooper said. “I watched them play that game last week (a 28-27 win at Cony). They made every play they needed to. It just didn’t go their way tonight.”
Quarterback Cody Martin and Dustin Simpson-Bragg were the bright spot for the Bulldogs, connecting for touchdowns of 75 and 31 yards.
The Dragons led 21-13 at the end of a wild first quarter, increased it to 35-13 at the half and led 48-13 after Bandouveres’ defensive gem with 3:35 remaining in the third.
All that after a start that couldn’t have been any worse for Brunswick.
Lawrence kicked Jacob Lennon accidentally squibbed the ball about 15 yards downfield. It worked as well as on onside kick, with Jhon Ocampo making the recovery.
“Probably the case of a kicker that was cold,” Lawrence coach John Hersom said. “It worked out in our favor.”
Cole Robinson ran through the shell-shocked Brunswick defense for 32 yards on the first carry and caught a 15-yard toss from Martin on the next play for a 6-0 lead.
“It’s adversity, and it depends how you take it,” Bandouveres said. “You can hold back, or you can stare it in the face and go hard on all cylinders. That’s what we did. We clawed back.”
Brunswick answered with a 10-play, 63-yard drive.
Hanson’s 17-yard completion to Bandouveres on fourth-and-4 from the 29 extended the march. Bessey capped it from the 3. Evan Murray’s extra point supplied the lead.
“Once we got back that touchdown, I knew that we had it,” Bessey said.
The Dragons’ defense held and forced a shanked punt that traveled only eight yards to the Lawrence 40. Back-to-back 11-yard gains by Bessey and Bandouveres set up Hanson’s quarterback sneak.
Martin’s bomb to Simpson-Bragg and a PAT got Lawrence within one, but Bessey’s 53-yard jaunt put him at an even 100 for the opening quarter and led to an 8-yard scoring scamper by Berry.
“We’ve been talking all season about our kids playing four quarters of football,” Cooper said. “Not getting down, stay focused, stay confident. Do your best and the scoreboard will take care of itself, particularly when you’re being physical, and I thought we were very physical tonight.”
Brunswick chalked up two more scores — Bessey, then Bandouveres — before Lawrence logged another first down.
The big deficit forced Lawrence to abandon its running game early. Robinson was held to 11 carries for 19 yards after the opening drive.
“We said all week up front that we had to control our gaps and play our roles, and that’s what we did,” Bandouveres said. “We’ve had some issues with our linemen all year, but we controlled the game tonight up front, and it makes a huge difference.”
Martin went 6-for-17 for 130 yards through the air. Simpson-Bragg’s second TD catch came with 6:16 left.
“They covered our receivers pretty well. They gave us very little time to look for receivers down the field. He was feeling a little bit of that pressure. Hats off to them on the defensive side as well,” Hersom said. “Our kids did well. We had a good turnaround season from a year ago.”
Senior Alex Bandouveres and the rest of the Brunswick football team will eye a state title Saturday night when the Dragons meet Marshwood for Class B supremacy.