Members of Falmouth’s football team pose with the trophy after beating rival Greely, 14-0, in the “Battle of Route 9” Saturday night.
Photo courtesy Jack Michaud.
G- 0 0 0 0- 0
F- 0 0 7 7- 14
F- Ga. Aube 8 run (Walker kick)
F- Martin 1 run (Ga. Aube kick)
FALMOUTH—For a half, Falmouth’s high powered football team did nothing against rival Greely in Saturday evening’s version of the “Battle of Route 9” and at halftime of the scoreless affair, it started raining, but nothing was going to stand between the host Yachtsmen and their quest to regain the trophy that goes to the winner of the teams’ annual showdown.
After failing to complete a pass in the first half, Falmouth junior quarterback Jack Bryant began to air it out, hitting junior Garret Aube for 27 yards to get things started, and Aube capped a 16-play, nearly eight minute second drive with an 8 yard touchdown to put the Yachtsmen ahead for good with 4:22 to play in the third period.
The valiant Rangers, who had the ball in Falmouth territory almost the whole first half, but had nothing to show for it, weren’t able to muster a rally and with 5:06 remaining in the game, the Yachtsmen got a clinching touchdown when senior Brandon Martin dove in from the 1.
Falmouth’s defense slammed the door from there and one week after a decisive home loss to Marshwood, the Yachtsmen got back in the win column, downing Greely, 14-0.
Falmouth finished the regular season 6-2, ended the Rangers’ campaign at 5-3 and the teams aren’t done with each other, as they’ll meet Friday in a rematch in the Class B South quarterfinals.
“I’m thrilled,” said Yachtsmen coach John Fitzsimmons. “It’s the Battle of Route 9 and now for 365 days, we have the trophy. We waited a whole year to get it back. What I love about this rivalry is how hard everybody plays. Credit to Greely. I expected they’d play hard and they played harder than even I thought.”
The Falmouth-Greely rivalry, perhaps more than any other of late, has consistently produced memorable results, regardless of which team was favored.
The teams came of age together in the old Developmental League and entering play Saturday, the Rangers held a 7-6 lead (see sidebar, below), thanks to last year’s 16-6 shocking home victory over the previously undefeated Yachtsmen. Seven of the games had been decided by a touchdown or less, most affected playoff positioning and in one instance, the result forced a three-way coin flip which ultimately kept Greely out of the 2010 postseason.
This fall, both squads have more than held their own.
The Rangers started with losses to visiting Kennebunk (12-0) and at Marshwood (48-6), then rattled off victories over visiting Noble (26-0), host Gorham (36-6), visiting Morse (40-20), host Leavitt (38-20) and visiting Mt. Ararat (8-6).
The Yachtsmen opened with a 56-30 shootout win at York, then beat visiting Westbrook, 37-13. A 17-14 loss at Biddeford followed, but Falmouth bounced back and downed visiting Mt. Ararat (22-6), rallied to win at Leavitt (38-27) and prevailed at Morse, 25-8. Last week, the Yachtsmen lost at home to Marshwood, 33-8.
Saturday’s game was supposed to be played Friday night, but was moved back due to bad weather.
For a half, the weather wasn’t a factor, but it soon degenerated.
Greely got the ball first and embarked on its best drive of the game, only to see it fall short of the goal line.
Junior Tim Coyle was the workhorse early, as he carried the ball eight straight times for 41 yards, moving the Rangers from their 41 to the Falmouth 18. Sophomore Joey Casella then got in on the fun, gaining two yards and on the play, the Yachtsmen were called for an unsportsmanlike conduct penalty, giving Greely first-and-goal at the 8.
Falmouth’s defense then buckled down in a big way, as Casella twice was held to no gain and after junior quarterback Nick Gauvin threw incomplete, Gauvin passed to Casella, but Yachtsmen seniors Will Blum and Brock Welch threw him for a two yard loss to give the hosts the ball on downs at their 10.
The Rangers had chewed up over seven minutes, but had nothing to show for it.
Falmouth went backwards on its first possession, as after Martin ran twice for five yards apiece to move the chains, a holding penalty cost the Yachtsmen 10 yards, sophomore Coleman Allen was held to no gain, Bryant was sacked by senior Paul Buchanan for a four yard loss and Martin’s three yard pick up forced a fourth-and-21.
Greely got the ball back at the Falmouth 39 and as the swift (16 minute) first quarter came to a close, the Rangers threatened again.
Two Coyle runs gained 12 yards and picked up a first down at the 27. On the final play of the first, Coyle gained a yard. On the first play of the second period, Coyle gained two yards, but on the next play, Greely was backed up by a holding penalty and Gauvin’s throw on third-and-17 was intercepted by Blum, who brought the ball back to the Yachtsmen 16.
Falmouth gave it right back, however, as after Aube was held to no gain, Bryant threw an incomplete pass that was ruled a lateral, making it a live ball, and the Rangers recovered at the Yachtsmen 29.
Again, Falmouth’s defense came up huge, as after Coyle ran for four yards, senior Orlando Simmonds and junior Noah Barney combined to sack Gauvin for a nine yard loss. Gauvin then twice threw incomplete and the Yachtsmen got the ball back at their 34 with 8:25 to play in the half.
Falmouth got an eight yard run from Martin on first down, but Bryant threw incomplete and Allen was held to no gain, forcing a punt.
The Rangers then got a big break as the snap to Yachtsmen junior punter Griffin Aube was high and he was tackled at the Falmouth 27.
Greely’s offense again couldn’t cash it in, however, as three Coyle runs gained eight yards and on fourth-and-2, Griffin Aube and sophomore Riley Reed dropped Casella for a loss of one.
The hosts went nowhere, as they were backed up by a too many men on the field penalty and after Garret Aube gained a yard, Bryant was dropped for a two yard loss and Aube’s 10 yard run set up a fourth-and-6.
With 3 minutes to go before halftime, the Rangers started at midfield and after Casella ran for four yards and Coyle gained two, Gauvin threw incomplete, forcing a punt.
The Yachtsmen, due to a personal foul penalty, had to start at the 1 with 1:07 left and they were content to run out the clock, as Bryant ran twice for 17 yards, sending the game to the break still scoreless.
In the first 24 minutes, Greely more or less lived in Falmouth territory, but only managed 72 yards of offense (to the Yachtsmen’s 26) and squandered their opportunity to seize control of the game.
“It was pretty frustrating,” said Rangers coach David Higgins. “I did a terrible job making offensive calls. I thought we could do some things, but we couldn’t.”
With the rain falling, Falmouth got the second half kickoff and set out to put some points on the board.
The Yachtsmen didn’t exactly get the ball in good field position, as they started from their 9, but in 16 plays and 7:38, they marched for a touchdown.
A five yard run by Martin got things started. After Bryant ran for two yards, he kept it again for six and a first down at the 22. Two Martin runs set up third-and-2 from the 30 where Bryant again moved the chains with a four yard pickup. Bryant then completed his first pass, a modest four yarder to Welch. A two yard Aube run set up third-and-6 where Bryant aired it out down the left sideline, hitting Aube for 27 yards to the Greely 35. After Bryant ran for three yards and Martin gained two, Bryant danced through several tacklers en route to a 12 yard gain and a first down at the 18. Bryant ran for five more, then hit Blum for three before keeping it for two more, setting up first-and-goal at the 8. Aube then capped the memorable march with an 8 yard scoring run, taking Bryant’s option pitch and beating the defense to the left pylon with 4:22 to go in the third.
Junior John Walker added the extra point for a 7-0 lead.
The Rangers couldn’t counter, as Casella ran twice for no gain and Gauvin threw incomplete.
The Yachtsmen got the ball back at the 42 and drove again as the third period gave way to the fourth.
After Aube gained four yards, Bryant was dropped for a five yard loss, but on third-and-11, Bryant completed a slant to sophomore Jack Kidder good for 15 yards and a first down at the 28. After freshman Brady Douglas caught a pass for three yards, Bryant ran for six, then lost a yard on the final play of the third quarter, setting up fourth-and-2 at the Greely 20 as the fourth period began.
The Rangers defense would step up, forcing Bryant to throw incomplete, as junior Shane DeWolfe knocked down the pass, giving Greely the ball back at its 20.
The Rangers (who were outgained, 133 yards to none in the third quarter) continued to struggle, as two Gauvin runs picked up a total of five yards and on third-and-5, Simmonds sacked Gauvin for an eight yard loss.
With 10:14 to play, Falmouth got the ball back at its 47, but it couldn’t deliver the knockout punch.
The Yachtsmen got a first down on a Greely pass interference penalty, which put the ball at the Rangers’ 35, and another on a Greely late hit, which moved the ball to the 13, but after Bryant ran for two yards and hit senior Nico Ciraulo for three, Bryant ran for three yards, setting up fourth-and-2 from the 5, where the Rangers’ defense stepped up big, holding Bryant to no gain.
With 6:55 left, Greely started at its 5, but Gauvin threw incomplete, Allen batted down a Gauvin pass and Gauvin threw incomplete again, forcing a punt.
That gave Falmouth the ball at the Rangers’ 45 with 6:33 remaining and this time, the Yachtsmen put it away, driving 45 yards in five plays and 1:27.
After Bryant threw incomplete, he hit senior Max Fortier for 28 yards to the 17. Martin lost two yards, but Bryant found Welch for 18 yards, setting up first-and-goal from the 1, where Martin got the call and bulled his way into the end zone for the touchdown with 5:06 left. Garret Aube booted the PAT to make it 14-0.
Now desperate, Greely hoped to rally, but after Gauvin hit Casella for three yards, he was thrown for a two yard loss, then hit Coyle for just four yards, setting up fourth-and-13, where Gauvin threw incomplete.
The Yachtsmen got the ball back at the Rangers’ 37 with 3:36 to go and ran two minutes off the clock before punting the ball back to Greely, which took over at its 20.
The Rangers had their best second half drive of the day, as Gauvin hit Casella for 25 yards and a pass interference penalty put Greely on the Falmouth 33, but Gauvin threw four straight incomplete passes and that gave the Yachtsmen the ball back with just seconds remaining.
Bryant took a knee and Falmouth got to celebrate its 14-0 win.
“We made some silly mistakes in the first half which we cleaned up at halftime and those adjustments worked for us, but we had to fight all night,” Fitzsimmons said.
The Yachtsmen wound up with 252 yards of offense (226 coming after halftime). Bryant ran 15 times for 58 yards and completed 8 of 12 passes for 99 yards.
Martin ran nine times for 37 yards with a TD. Garret Aube had 11 carries for 34 yards and a score. He also caught a pass for 27 yards.
Falmouth’s defense was most impressive, holding Greely to a mere 66 yards (49 of which came on the Rangers’ opening drive).
“We needed that kind of game from the defense and they stepped up,” Fitzsimmons said. “The line did a great job and the linebackers stepped up and put pressure on them. That helped set the tone. It wore them down.”
The Yachtsmen were flagged eight times for 71 yards.
Greely was paced by Coyle’s 63 yards on 16 carries. Casella had 5 yards on six rushes and caught three passes for 26 yards. Gauvin finished 5 of 19 passing for 24 yards. The Rangers were flagged four times for 53 yards.
“They were just a better team than us tonight,” Higgins said. “They played well and deserved it.”
Greely qualified for the playoffs for the sixth year in a row, overcoming an 0-2 start and a very small roster to compete in the most balanced region in the state.
“I think we’ve accomplished a lot and I think we’re in a good spot,” Higgins said. “We’re in the playoffs. We just have to play hard. Hopefully we can pull some magic again.”
The Rangers will be the No. 6 seed in Class B South.
Falmouth posted another solid regular season mark.
“We have eight seniors and only four start,” Fitzsimmons said. “We have a lot of underclassmen out there. I thought we’d go 2-2 in September and we went 3-1. I thought we’d play better in October, then we slipped back, but now we’re in more of a rhythm.”
The Yachtsmen, ranked third, made it four straight trips to the postseason and its first test will be a doozy, as Greely pays a visit for the first ever “Battle of Route 9” playoff affair.
“It’s going to be very hard to play the same team one week later,” Fitzsimmons said. “There are no surprises and Coach Higgins’ teams always fight hard. The playoffs will test us all of the way. I’m thrilled to be home. I think we have a run in us. There’s enough in this group to shake up anyone we play. Class B South, anybody can win it. Expect some teams to get knocked out the first week of the playoffs and have people say, ‘What the heck happened?'”
@ Greely 16 Falmouth 6
Falmouth 42 @ Greely 12
Greely 27 @ Falmouth 20 (OT)
Greely 28 @ Falmouth 6
@ Falmouth 31 Greely 30
Falmouth 15 @ Greely 14
@ Falmouth 25 Greely 7
Falmouth 14 @ Greely 13
Greely 15 @ Falmouth 14
Falmouth 24 @ Greely 22
Greely 45 @ Falmouth 0
@ Greely 29 Falmouth 6
Greely 7 @ Falmouth 0