WESTBROOK—One week after defeating nemesis York with surprising ease, Falmouth’s football team had to overcome some adversity Friday evening at Olmstead Field.
Facing Westbrook in the latest of a series of showdowns in arguably the toughest region in the state, the Yachtsmen jumped to a quick 6-0 lead on a 55-yard touchdown run from senior standout Connor Aube.
Falmouth couldn’t punch the ball into the end zone again the rest of the half, yet managed to take that lead to the break, thanks a tremendous goal line stand just before the break.
After the Blue Blazes took a short-lived lead on a 29-yard touchdown pass from junior quarterback Bailey Sawyer to his favorite target, senior Bailey Ryan, Yachtsmen sophomore quarterback Jack Bryant hit his brother, senior Sean Bryant, from 29-yards out and after junior workhorse running back Brandon Martin ran for the two-point conversion, Falmouth was up, 14-7.
While the Yachtsmen continued to struggle to finish drives, it was up to their defense to preserve the victory and thanks to the dominance of senior Drew Chamberlain and his mates, Falmouth did just that as it went on to a 14-7 victory to improve to 2-0, dropping tough-luck Westbrook to 0-2 in the process.
“It’s good to walk away with a ‘W,’ but we’re still a long ways to being the team we want to be,” said Yachtsmen coach John Fitzsimmons.
After going 8-2 a year ago, losing only to York in the regular season, then again in the Western B semifinals, Falmouth graduated standout quarterback Noah Nelson, but returns an abundance of talent. The Yachtsmen quickly made their mark last week with a 33-0 home win over the Wildcats in the season opener.
Westbrook has shown it can contend quite nicely in Class B and last week, the Blue Blazes, in their first game, gave new-to-Class-B perennial powerhouse Leavitt a scare before falling by a point, 22-21.
The teams started playing in 2011 and entering Friday’s contest, Westbrook had taken four of five meetings. The Blue Blazes won the first four, including a 12-7 victory in the 2011 quarterfinals. Falmouth finally got over the hump last year with a 27-8 home victory.
This time, on a pleasant evening (kickoff temperature was 69 degrees), the Yachtsmen missed out on an abundance of scoring chances, but still showed the fortitude to prevail.
Westbrook won the opening coin toss, but deferred possession to the second half.
Falmouth started at its 28, but went backwards.
On first down, senior George Gilbert was thrown for a three-yard loss. After Bryant was sacked by senior Brandon Lajoie for an eight-yard loss, Aube picked up five yards on third down, but the visitors had to punt.
The Blue Blazes started at their 39, but also went the wrong way, as Sawyer threw incomplete, junior Miece Loureiro was tackled for a one-yard loss and after a false start penalty, Ryan caught a pass for 10 yards, but it still left Westbrook six yards short of a first down, forcing a punt.
The Yachtsmen started at their 23 and this time, drove 77 yards in five plays and 2 minutes, 39 seconds for the lead.
After senior Nick Wissemann ran for eight yards on first down, he picked up three more, breaking a couple tackles, to move the chains. The Blue Blazes jumped offsides and Wissemann gained four yards and Gilbert ran for two for a first down at the 45.
Then, Aube took a handoff on a counter, found a big hole, broke free and outran the pursuit for the 55-yard touchdown. Sophomore Griffin Aube’s extra point hit the right upright and bounced back to keep the score 6-0.
Falmouth’s defense remained stout on Westbrook’s second series.
After Sawyer threw incomplete, then ran for a yard, Sawyer dropped back, but was sacked by Chamberlain, on third-and-9.
After a punt, the Yachtsmen got the ball back at their 40 and as the first quarter gave way to the second, they drove for what looked to be another score.
Runs of five-yards by Aube and 15 by Martin put the ball in Blue Blazes’ territory, at their 40. Martin ran for 11 more to set up a first down at the 29. After Aube ran for two yards on first down, Bryant scrambled for five. Aube gained two more to set up a fourth-and-1 from the 20, where Aube gained two yards to move the chains again. On the final play of the first period, Martin ran for nine yards to set up a second-and-1 from the 9.
In the first 12 minutes, Falmouth mustered 122 yards of offense, while Westbrook was held to negative-five.
When Bryant ran for five yards on the first play of the second quarter, setting up a first-and-goal at the 4, the Yachtsmen appeared primed to extend their lead, but Martin’s apparent 4-yard touchdown run was negated by a holding call. Aube was then thrown for a four-yard loss and a delay of game penalty backed Falmouth up even further. After Bryant hit Aube for 15 yards, Lajoie sacked Bryant, setting up fourth-and-goal from the 18. Falmouth went for it and Aube got the handoff, but he only gained two yards and the Blue Blazes had held and took over at their 16.
And they finally got their offense going.
After Sawyer threw incomplete, Ryan had receptions of five-yards and 13-yards for a first down. After an incomplete pass, Sawyer hit Ryan for 16 more for a first down at midfield. Sawyer and Ryan kept the connection going with passes of 11-, 1- and 9-yards for a first down at the Yachtsmen 29. After an incomplete pass, Westbrook tried to run, but Loureiro only gained two yards. On third-and-8, Sawyer hit senior Philip Stearns for three and on fourth down, the Blue Blazes’ hopes were dashed as Sawyer was sacked by Falmouth freshman Jon Mugueta.
The Yachtsmen started their next drive at their 34 and on first down, Bryant hit Aube for 15 yards. Bryant threw incomplete on the next down, but a pass interference penalty gave Falmouth the ball at the Westbrook 36. Lajoie sacked Bryant again, but a seven-yard Bryant-to-senior Austin Wheeler pass was compounded by an unsportsmanlike conduct penalty on the hosts, setting up a first down at the 18.
The Yachtsmen couldn’t finish, however, as Bryant was sacked by junior David Redmond for a 13-yard loss, Bryant threw incomplete, Bryant was sacked for a seven-yard loss by senior Zack Hutchins and on fourth-and-30, Aube only ran for 13.
With 70 seconds left in the half, the Blue Blazes started from their 25. They soon found themselves on the doorstep, but Falmouth’s defense came up huge.
On first down, Loureiro ran for 27 yards to get things started. After Sawyer threw incomplete, the Yachtsmen shot themselves in the foot as a pass interference penalty was compounded by an unsportsmanlike conduct penalty, moving the ball to the Falmouth 17. Sawyer then hit Ryan for 16 yards to the 1, but Westbrook couldn’t punch it in.
After throwing three straight incomplete passes, Sawyer was thrown for a three-yard loss by sophomore Noah Barney. On the final play of the half, Sawyer connected with Ryan behind the line of scrimmage, but he was thrown for an eight-yard loss and that was it for the first half.
The Yachtsmen were outgained in yards, 113-34, in the second quarter, but still held the 6-0 lead.
The teams traded turnovers to start the second half, then traded touchdowns.
Starting from its 31, Westbrook looked to go to the air, but Sawyer’s pass was intercepted by Wheeler.
On Falmouth’s first offensive play of the half, Wissemann fumbled and Loureiro pounced at it at the Yachtsmen 29.
The next Blue Blazes’ drive also lasted just one play, but it had a happier ending as Sawyer threw deep down the right sideline to Ryan, who got behind the secondary and caught the ball just before crossing the goal line for a touchdown. Ryan added the extra point for a 7-6 lead with 11:22 to go in the third period.
With everything that had gone wrong, Falmouth could have bowed its head, but the Yachtsmen responded with a championship-caliber drive.
Falmouth started at its 40 and 60 yards and 3 minutes, 36 seconds later, the Yachtsmen were ahead for good.
Martin did the majority of the work. He ran for a yard, gained four, then picked up the first down with a six-yard burst. After Martin gained one more yard, Bryant hit Sean Bryant on a rollout to the left for 18 yards and a first down at the Westbrook 30. After a fumbled exchange led to no gain, Martin ran for a yard. On third-and-9, Bryant again rolled to the left, again spotted his brother and led him with a perfect pass that Sean Bryant caught at the 10. En route to paydirt, Bryant was tackled from behind, but he managed to stretch the ball out and touch the pylon for the TD. Martin ran in the two-point conversion and with 7:40 to go in the third, Falmouth was up, 14-7.
That’s how this one would end, but the Yachtsmen had work to do.
Falmouth’s defense stepped up big again on the next Westbrook series, as after Sawyer scrambled for three yards, then threw incomplete, his next pass slipped through the hands of a receiver and was picked by Wissemann at the Blue Blazes’ 43.
The Yachtsmen weren’t able to add to the lead, however.
After Gilbert ran for 13 yards, Gilbert picked up seven, then one, setting up third-and-2 from the 22. After Bryant threw incomplete, Martin got three yards to move the chains. Two Martin runs gained 10 more yards, but Wissemann was held to no gain, a holding penalty backed Falmouth up to the 21 and after Sean Bryant ran for no gain, Gilbert gained five yards, before Jack Bryant threw incomplete to give the ball up on downs.
Westbrook started at its 16 late in the third quarter and picked up a first down on a 14-yard Sawyer to Ryan slant. On the second play of the fourth period, the tandem connected for 26 yards for a first down at the Yachtsmen 45, but Connor Aube broke up a pass on first down, Chamberlain sacked Sawyer for a nine-loss on second down, after a delay of game penalty, the hosts lost three more yards on a bad snap, then had to punt.
With just over nine minutes to play, Falmouth started at its 39, but again proved to be its worst enemy.
On first down, Bryant appeared to connect with Aube for 25 yards, but the Yachtsmen had an illegal man downfield. An unsportsmanlike conduct penalty on the Blue Blazes got some of the yardage back, but a false start set up third-and-7 from the 42. Bryant threw short to Aube, who was blanketed, but managed to make the catch and break a couple tackles for a first down at the Westbrook 40. Martin then ran for eight-, 11- and seven-yards to the 14. Martin then appeared to score on a 14-yard scamper, but it was negated by a holding penalty and Falmouth wound up turning the ball over on downs.
With 3:38 to play, the Blue Blazes started at their 24, but the Yachtsmen’s Sack Exchange was up to the challenge.
After a Falmouth unsportsmanlike conduct penalty moved the ball to the 40, Sawyer threw incomplete, then lost three yards. On third down, senior Logan Herodes and sophomore Noah Barney met at Sawyer for a sack and a seven-yard loss and on fourth down, Chamberlain completely gobbled Sawyer up for another sack and the Yachtsmen got the ball back at the Westbrook 11.
After Martin ran for a yard, Aube ran three times for seven, but Falmouth couldn’t get the ball in end zone and after using up their timeouts, the Blue Blazes got one final chance from their 3, but only 59.8 seconds remained.
Sawyer hit Ryan one final time for 14 yards, but that was Westbrook’s last hurrah. After Stearns ran for seven yards (which kept the clock moving), Sawyer three times threw incomplete and that was that.
Bryant took a knee to run out the clock and the Yachtsmen had the 14-7 victory.
Falmouth’s celebration was muted.
“That’s about the worst game I’ve been a part of,” said Chamberlain. “We were undisciplined in every part of the game. It’s the best Falmouth team I’ve been a part of, head and shoulders, but that game should have been 42-0. We didn’t come out to start the game. The first drive was terrible. Some of it was heat of the moment. Some guys don’t realize how good they are. I know how good we are.”
“I told the boys that I’m pleased they fought hard, but having two touchdowns called back for penalties was very disappointing and the personal fouls were very disappointing and uncharacteristic for us,” Fitzsimmons said. “That’ll bite you in the end if you don’t straighten it out.
“(Westbrook) did a good job getting slants on us in the middle. We had to adjust. Their quarterback is good and elusive. We were conscious of him running. We put enough pressure on him to shut him down when we had to shut him down.”
Falmouth mustered 292 yards of offense.
Aube ran for 87 yards and a score on 14 carries.
Martin rushed 15 times for 79 yards.
“Brandon Martin was absolutely the man tonight,” Fitzsimmons said. “When we needed power running, he did it. He allowed us to rest Connor and it was wearing on the other team. I’m so disappointed his touchdown was called back.”
“Brandon’s been an unbelievable player for us this year,” said Chamberlain. “We saw signs last year, but offense, defense, special teams tonight. He was a great player.”
Gilbert carried six times for 25 yards. Wissemann had 20 yards on five attempts.
“We have an unbelievable running back corps,” said Chamberlain. “Connor’s been a starter since his freshman year and George since his sophomore year. We know how good they are. We have to get them the ball in space.”
Jack Bryant completed 6-of-11 passes for 102 yards and a TD. Aube caught three passes for 48 yards. Sean Bryant had two receptions for 47 yards and a touchdown. Wheeler had one catch for 7 yards.
The Yachtsmen overcame one turnover and eight penalties for 66 yards in part by forcing two turnovers and recording five sacks (Chamberlain had three).
“We have a great secondary and I think our line’s as good as it comes,” Chamberlain said. “We prefer facing the run. We love stopping the run, but it’s good to see both. Other than that one touchdown and our penalties, we were really good on defense. We were definitely in a game tonight. It’s fun, it’s different, it’s a good experience.”
“Drew was really a difference maker in the game, on both sides of the ball,” Fitzsimmons said. “We expect that of him.”
Westbrook gained 165 yards, nearly all of them through the air. Sawyer wound up 14-of-26 for 159 yards, one touchdown and two interceptions. Ryan had 13 of the 14 receptions, good for 156 yards and a score. Loureiro did rush for 29 yards on four carries.
The Blue Blazes committed seven penalties for 65 yards and turned the ball twice. Lajoie had three of Westbrook’s five sacks.
Westbrook’s quest for victory number one won’t get any easier as it goes to defending Class B state champion Marshwood (2-0) next weekend.
Falmouth returns home to meet Biddeford (1-1), the erstwhile Class A contender, which has moved down this fall. The teams have no history.
“It’s nice to be 2-0,” Chamberlain said. “We’ve been 2-0 the past two years, then lost in week three. We have to be a lot better, every single player on the team. Every week it gets tougher,”
“This is one of the most talented teams we’ve had,” Fitzsimmons said. “The boys on the line are big and strong. I wasn’t sure if Jack could step in as quarterback, but he’s very poised, doing a wonderful job.
“Biddeford’s a class act program. They were a Class A playoff team. We’ll be ready. It’s a home game and that will raise the bar even more for us. We’ll get a challenge every week. I’m thrilled with our schedule. We won’t go deep in the playoffs, unless we beat these teams. We’ll be battle tested. We’ll get better as we go along.”
Falmouth senior Logan Herodes tries to get a hand on Westbrook Bailey Sawyer’s pass during the Yachtsmen’s 14-7 win Friday night.
Mike Strout photos.
Falmouth freshman Jon Mugueta runs down Westbrook quarterback Bailey Sawyer.
Falmouth sophomore quarterback Jack Bryant is run down by Westbrook’s David Redmond.
Falmouth senior Drew Chamberlain sacks Westbrook quarterback Bailey Sawyer.
Falmouth junior Brandon Martin finds some running room.
Falmouth sophomore quarterback Jack Bryant throws a pass.
Falmouth senior Connor Aube breaks free for a first quarter touchdown.
Falmouth sophomore Noah Barney closes in on Westbrook quarterback Bailey Sawyer.
F- 6 0 8 0- 14
W- 0 0 7 0- 7
F- Aube 55 run (kick failed)
W- Ryan 29 pass from Sawyer (Ryan kick)
F- S. Bryant 29 pass from J. Bryant (Martin rush)