FALMOUTH—A week after a huge home win over Leavitt and a week before a showdown at defending Class B champion Marshwood, Falmouth’s football team could have been ripe for a letdown when it hosted Morse Friday evening.
But the Yachtsmen weren’t about to be diverted from their mission and produced a strong first half, thanks to a surprisingly pass-happy attack, which led the way to yet another victory.
Falmouth sophomore Jack Bryant continued his emergence into one of the top signal callers around by going wild in the first 24 minutes.
Bryant hit senior Austin Wheeler for a 44 yard touchdown and senior George Gilbert for a 33 yard score and senior Connor Aube rushed for a 22-yard touchdown as the Yachtsmen built a 21-0 lead after one period.
A third Bryant touchdown, a 16-yard strike to senior Nick Wissemann, and a 21-yard field goal from sophomore kicker Jack Walker made it 31-0 at halftime.
While Falmouth wasn’t able to build on its lead in the second half, the Yachtsmen did slam the door defensively and went on to another impressive victory, 31-0.
Falmouth improved to 6-0, remained atop the Class B South Crabtree Points standings and dropped Morse to 2-4 in the process.
“There’s always concern about a letdown,” said Yachtsmen coach John Fitzsimmons. “I didn’t see the intensity level I wished at the beginning. It’s Senior Night, so that takes away from focus, but we put up 31 points in the first half.”
Falmouth had a superb 2014 campaign, which ended with a semifinal round loss to York and was expected to contend this fall, but the Yachtsmen have exceeded all expectations, starting with a 33-0 home vengeance victory over York in the opener. After a hard-fought 14-7 win at Westbrook, Falmouth held off visiting Biddeford by the same score, rolled at Mt. Ararat, 26-7, then outlasted visiting powerhouse Leavitt, 24-14, last Friday for its biggest statement yet.
Morse won its opener, 38-8, over visiting Gorham, then lost at Leavitt (43-14) and at home to Kennebunk (39-21). After a 35-14 win at Noble, the Shipbuilders lost last week at home to Greely, 27-7.
Last year, Falmouth crushed visiting Morse, 55-14.
Friday, in the rain, on the Yachtsmen’s Senior Night, they made quick work of the Shipbuilders again.
Falmouth struggled initially, then Bryant got things going, as the Yachtsmen decided that passing the ball would produce greater dividends than their normal run-first approach.
A 44-yard Bryant-to-Wheeler scoring pass gave Falmouth the only points it would need and sophomore Jack Walker added the extra point to make it 7-0.
The Yachtsmen then went up, 14-0, as Bryant connected with Gilbert from 33 yards out and Walker’s PAT pushed the lead to 14-0.
The next score came more conventionally, on the ground, as Aube broke free for a 22-yard scamper and Walker’s extra point made it 21-0 after quarter.
Falmouth kept the pressure on in the second period, as Bryant hit Wissemann for 16 yards and a fourth TD. Walker’s PAT made it 28-0.
“They came out playing a little bit of a different defense than we expected and we thought we could throw it well,” Bryant said. “It was fun throwing that much. They tried to stop the run, so we thought we could throw more.”
“We thought more about running, until we saw what they were doing (defensively),” said Fitzsimmons. “They were stacking the middle, so short routes were open.”
Late in the half, the Yachtsmen got the ball back at their 36. After two incompletions, Bryant hit Aube for 22 yards and a first down at the Morse 42.
Out of a timeout, Bryant threw incomplete, then found Wheeler for 14 yards and a first down at the 28. After Falmouth was backed up by an offensive pass interference penalty, Bryant threw a rainbow which Gilbert snared for 39 yards and a first-and-goal at the 4. The Yachtsmen took timeout with 9.8 seconds remaining and had time to run two more plays. A pass to the end zone fell incomplete, so Fitzsimmons elected to send Walker out for a 21-yard field goal and Walker split the uprights for a commanding 31-0 lead at the break.
In the first half, Bryant completed 14-of-28 pass attempts for a whopping 263 yards and three TDs.
While Falmouth’s offense failed to add to the lead, the defense wasn’t about to let the Shipbuilders get going in the second half.
After Morse went four-and-out to start the third period, the Yachtsmen drove to a first-and-goal at the 6, but Bryant was sacked on successive downs and after Aube ran twice for six yards, on fourth-and-goal from the 5, an Aube halfback option pass fell was knocked down, giving the Shipbuilders the ball back at their 5.
Three plays later, Falmouth got it back, as Wheeler had an interception along the sidelines at the Morse 47.
Again, the Yachtsmen’s threat was squashed by a pair of Shipbuilders sacks.
“We can improve on the sacks, but they had a lot of guys coming,” Bryant said. “Our line did a good job. They’ve never seen that defense before.”
“We have some mental mistakes we have to clean up,” Fitzsimmons said. “Too many sacks.”
Late in the quarter, Morse went three-and-out and Falmouth ended the frame with runs of 18 and seven yards from Wissemann. A 24-yard Bryant-to-Wissemann pass put the ball at the Shipbuilders’ 6. After Gilbert ran for two yards, Bryant was sacked, then lost three yards on a scramble and an ensuing Walker 27-yard field goal attempt was blocked by Morse senior Matt Belanger.
The Shipbuilders went three-and-out, giving the Yachtsmen another chance on offense and they drove from their 41 into Morse territory on the strength of a 19 yard Aube run, but the drive stalled at the Shipbuilders’ 23.
As time wound down, Morse drove into Falmouth territory and got as close as the Yachtsmen’s 20, but a sack from sophomore Griffin Aube ensured the shutout and slammed the door on Falmouth’s 31-0 triumph.
“I thought we played OK,” said Bryant. “There’s stuff we can improve on, but overall, it was a good effort. We stayed focused.”
“We shut them down nicely and prevented them from running,” Fitzsimmons said. “We’ve given up only five touchdowns in six games. Offensively, it took us awhile.”
Bryant had his most prolific game, completing 19-of-30 passes for 326 yards and three scores.
“The highlight of the night was Jack Bryant,” Fitzsimmons said. “He’s really playing more like a two-year starter than a one-year starter. I was pleased with him back in the summer. His arm is strong. Every week his confidence goes up. To his credit, he can take a hit.”
Gilbert caught five passes for 114 yards and a touchdown. Wheeler had two receptions for 57 yards and a score. Wissemann had a catch for 16 yards and a TD and Aube finished with three receptions good for 58 yards.
“I think we’ve got some of the best receivers in the league,” Bryant said. “I have a lot of guys I can throw to. They makes life difficult for defenses. There isn’t one guy they can key on.”
Aube gained 53 yards on 10 carries and had a touchdown.
Falmouth finished with 406 total yards.
While Morse (currently eighth in Class B South) closes with games at Westbrook and at home versus Mt. Ararat, Falmouth will be road warriors.
The Yachtsmen have a huge test this coming Friday when they go to defending Class B champion Marshwood (4-1). The teams didn’t meet a year ago. Falmouth then closes at rival Greely.
“Marshwood’s a really good team,” Bryant said. “It will definitely be a tough game on their homefield. We have to have a good week of practice and be ready to go down there. We have to come out and give our best.”
“We have a very tough team waiting for us, but it’s a great opportunity,” Fitzsimmons said. “Leavitt, Biddeford, Westbrook, when we have the tougher teams, we step it up. Marshwood’s well-coached. They’re playing well. It should be a good match for us. We’re controlling our destiny. We’re in the toughest division, but that’s good preparation. We’ll make the playoffs, but there are a lot of teams that will be there that can knock you out.”
Falmouth freshman Coleman Allen gets a lift from senior Cole Wyse following the Yachtsmen’s 31-0 home win over Morse Friday night.
Mike Strout photos.
Falmouth senior Zach Muller leads the team on to the field at the start of Friday’s game.
Falmouth senior Connor Aube looks for a hole.
Morse junior quarterback Connor Upham looks to throw under pressure from Falmouth seniors Patrick Dancoes (81) and Drew Chamberlain.
Morse senior Matt Belanger is brought down by Falmouth junior Brandon Martin.
Falmouth senior George Gilbert leaves Morse sophomore Parker Onorato in his wake.
Falmouth sophomore quarterback Jack Bryant prepares to throw a pass. Bryant threw for three touchdowns.
M- 0 0 0 0- 0
F- 21 10 0 0- 31
F- Wheeler 44 pass from J. Bryant (Walker kick)
F- Gilbert 33 pass from J. Bryant (Walker kick)
F- Aube 22 run (Walker kick)
F- Wissemann 16 pass from J. Bryant (Walker kick)
F- Walker 21 FG