Brunswick's title dream dashed by Marshwood

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PORTLAND — The program that defined intermediate-sized Maine high school football in the 1970s and ’80s is back at the mountaintop.

Marshwood won its first state title in a quarter-century Saturday night with a convincing 44-18 win over Brunswick for the Class B Gold Ball at Fitzpatrick Stadium.

Quarterback Luc Blanchette rushed for 204 yards and two touchdowns on only seven carries to lead the Hawks. Brett Gerry added 19 carries for 162 yards and a TD. Jackson Howarth also scored twice.

“It’s just exhilarating,” Blanchette said. “I feel like we deserve it. Maybe that sounds a little cocky, but we worked our butts off for this.”

It was the 16th state championship for Marshwood, the only school to win a football title in all four Maine Principals’ Association classifications.

Marshwood (12-0) and Class C Winslow were the only two undefeated teams in the state this season.

“We had a lot of blowouts most of the season, and having that target on our back, we know teams are going to play us hard whether we beat them by 60 or whether we beat them by one,” Blanchette said. “These last few games were the close ones and the exciting ones, and we just came out victorious. It wasn’t that pretty, but it was a great game altogether.”

Thomas Hanson completed 6 of 11 passes for 101 yards and two touchdown passes for the Dragons (9-2). Will Bessey rushed 19 times for 102 yards and a score.

The Hawks scored on three consecutive possessions and cashed in all three two-point conversions to accumulate a 24-0 halftime lead. Gerry, Zach Doyon and Blanchette each rushed for a touchdown.

Thirteen Marshwood seniors completed the climb begun two years ago, when they were part of a wild 44-42 loss to Mt. Blue in the Class B final. It was the highest-scoring title game ever, regardless of class.

“When I was a sophomore, I thought we’d get this opportunity again,” said Gerry, who rushed for 2,231 yards this season. “Then you realize it was a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity, and I was lucky enough to get back here, and we finished it off.”

Points and yards were just as plentiful this time. Marshwood averaged nearly 11 yards per carry in the first half on its way to 311 total yards. The Hawks finished with 531.

“Their play action is so good, you think one guy’s got it, and the other guy’s got it,” Brunswick coach Dan Cooper said. “We didn’t really have an answer for any of them.”

After an exchange of punts to start the game, Blanchette raced 55 yards on a quarterback keeper along the Brunswick sideline to the Dragons’ 10.

Blanchette completed a short pass to tight end Holden Jackman, setting up Gerry’s 3-yard TD. Blanchette passed to Doyon for the two points.

Jackman and Zach Mitchell stopped Bessey to force Brunswick’s ensuing three-and-out. The Dragons’ punt backed up the Hawks to their own 10, but it set up an 11-play, 90-yard march.

Marshwood administered a steady diet of Gerry, who carried six times for 44 yards in the series. Doyon also ripped off gains of 11 and 17 in advance of his 10-yard TD. Jacob Lebel caught Blanchette’s PAT offering.

The Dragons’ next possession reached the Hawks’ 35-yard line, but passes fell incomplete on second, third and fourth downs.

Blanchette bolted 65 yards to the end zone on the next play. Gerry rushed for the conversion.

“Halfway through the game I was a little ticked off because people were acting like it was over,” Blanchette said.

His anxiety was well-founded.

Brunswick scored twice in the second half on a run by Bessey and a pass from Hanson to Rick Klatt, giving Marshwood some brief discomfort. Klatt’s 11-yard catch made it 24-12 with 8:37 remaining.

Seventy seconds later, set up by Gerry’s 57-yard ramble, Blanchette raced for his second TD of the evening, a 13-yarder.

The Dragons still weren’t done. Hunter Garrett’s long kick return moved the ball all the way to the Marshwood 20.

Two plays later, Hanson hit Cam Berry, who stretched out across the goal line for a 15-yard TD.

“A little too late. I thought we could play with these guys if we could stack some good plays on top of each other, put a little pressure on them,” Cooper said.

Marshwood recovered the ensuing onside kick. Howarth hammered in from 5 yards out with 5:12 to go. Blanchette then recovered a fumble to set up another Howarth score of 10 yards.

Jonathan Stacy applied the exclamation point with an interception.

Brunswick was making its first appearance in the state game since 2003, when it lost to Deering in Class A.

“These kids have done everything I’ve asked them to for 15 weeks now,” Cooper said. “If you told them they could play these guys again tomorrow, they no doubt would dust themselves off and be right back here. We gave it our best shot. It just didn’t work out tonight.”

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Brunswick sophomore Jesse Devereaux stretches for a first down during Saturday night’s Class B state final.

Brunswick sophomore Corbin Teel can’t hold on to a pass as a Marshwood player defends.

Brunswick seniors (from left) Kyle Mallet, Alex Bandouveres, Tristan Graves and Nick Osborne receive the runner-up plaque following the Dragons’ 44-18 loss to Marshwood in Saturday’s Class B state final.

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