For nearly three months, nearly everything went the way of the Falmouth football team.
Saturday afternoon, in the Class B South Final, almost nothing went the Yachtsmen’s way and as a result, the finest season in program history has come to a painful end.
Due in large part to five turnovers, Falmouth dug a 28-0 hole against defending state champion Marshwood and while the Yachtsmen showed some life, it was too little, too late and the season ended with a 48-22 loss.
“It was a tough loss,” said Falmouth coach John Fitzsimmons. “It was quite unfortunate. We hadn’t had those kind of turnovers before.”
Falmouth went 7-1 in the regular season with arguably the highlight coming late in the year when the Yachtsmen rallied to force overtime before beating host Marshwood, 22-20, in an overtime epic.
That helped Falmouth earn the top seed for the Class B South playoffs and the Yachtsmen promptly had their way with No. 8 Morse (57-13) and fifth-ranked Westbrook (32-0).
The Hawks were 6-2 in the regular season and as the No. 3 seed, had no trouble with sixth-ranked Kennebunk in the quarterfinals before outlasting No. 7 Greely in the semifinals.
Marshwood beat Falmouth, 57-0, in the 2013 Western B quarterfinals in the lone prior playoff encounter.
This time around, the Hawks won decisively again.
The Yachtsmen fumbled on their first series and Marshwood scored for a quick 8-0 lead. After an interception, the Hawks made it 15-0 after one period.
Another Falmouth fumble led to a Marshwood TD which pushed the lead to 22-0.
“I looked up and we were down three TDs,” Fitzsimmons said. “It made for a long day.”
The Hawks then scored again on a long punt return for a score.
Falmouth finally got on the board when quarterback Jack Bryant scored on a short run and hit his brother, Sean Bryant, for the two-point conversion to make it 28-8 at halftime.
The Yachtsmen then hinted at an epic comeback when standout Connor Aube returned a punt 70 yards for a TD and Jack Bryant hit George Gilbert with the two-point conversion to cut the deficit to 28-16, but after getting the ball back, Falmouth fumbled for a third time and again, Marshwood capitalized with a touchdown and added another to lead, 41-16, after three periods.
“When we got it to 28-16, there was electricity in the air and the sidelines were completely alive, but then we fumbled and that let the proverbial air out of the balloon,” Fitzsimmons said.
The Hawks added one more score in the fourth quarter before Jack Bryant hit Brock Welch for a 24 yard TD pass which accounted for the 48-22 final score.
“We knew we could play with Marshwood, but clearly we did not,” Fitzsimmons said. “We put ourselves in a bad position early and you can’t win a title with that many turnovers. Marshwood was well prepared and did a good job.”
Falmouth finished 9-2, setting a new program record for victories and reaching the regional final for the first time.
“I’m proud of the young men,” Fitzsimmons said. “It’s the best record in the history of the school. We raised the bar. The seniors were 1-7 as freshmen, then brought the program to the top level. I thank them.”
The Yachtsmen will be hard-hit by graduation, but several young players saw key minutes and this program now expects to be in the hunt every season.
“The underclassmen understand how hard they have to work,” Fitzsimmons said. “Tradition doesn’t graduate. Hopefully, we’ll be a perennial contender. The returning players have to get in the weight room and put in the summer work. I’m very excited about 2016.
Falmouth’s Connor Aube finds some running room during Saturday’s Class B South Final.
Falmouth’s football team gathers around the runner-up plaque after the Yachtsmen’s 48-22 loss to Marshwood in the Class B South Final. Falmouth’s finest-ever season ended at 9-2.