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It took three weeks, but everyone is now paying attention to the Greely football team.
The Rangers, impressive in opening victories over Spruce Mountain and Lake Region, made a major statement Friday night at Westbrook.
Facing a Blue Blazes squad which opened with a 30-0 home drubbing of perennial powerhouse Mountain Valley and a 28-20 victory at defending Class B state champion Wells, Greely wasn’t given much of a chance to prevail, but managed to do so in impressive fashion.
Greely, which beat Westbrook, 28-0, in the teams’ lone previous meeting, a year ago, took a 6-0 lead on a 36-yard touchdown pass from Drew Hodge to Nick Maynard.
Then, just before halftime, disaster struck as the Rangers eschewed a punt and a fake resulted in a loss of downs. Then, a Blue Blazes receiver got free behind the Greely secondary for a touchdown which made it 6-6 at the break.
Greely went ahead to stay on a 16-yard touchdown pass from Hodge to Connor Hanley in the third quarter, added another score through the air when Hodge hooked up with Svenn Jacobson, then ended all doubt in the fourth period when Jacobson scored on a TD scamper and Pat Finnegan returned an interception 40 yards to paydirt.
The Rangers surrendered a late touchdown, but turned heads with the 33-12 decision.
“This is huge,” said Hodge. “We knew it was a big game. We were pumped. We wanted to come in and make a point and I think we did that tonight. We had a mental breakdown (before halftime), but we knew we had to come out and be mentally tough. We did and got the job done.”
“I guess you can say we’re the real deal,” said Finnegan. “We were confident. We know how good we are. We made good plays.”
“I’m proud of the kids,” added Greely coach David Higgins. “They did a great job. I have a lot of seniors and leaders. They came out and played football in the second half. We can do a lot of things. When Hodge is on, he’s a very good quarterback. He runs the option well. He can throw well too. Nick Maynard can catch on the outside. Connor’s a tall kid who can catch the ball. Svenn can run or catch the ball. Tonight, we were clicking. Coach (Jay) Demick, our defensive coordinator, did a great job.”
Statistically, Greely managed 285 yards of offense. Hodge led the way by completing 13-of-20 passes for 187 yards and three scores. Maynard had five receptions for 89 yards and a TD. Jacobson also caught five balls, including a touchdown, good for 42 yards. Hanley had three catches, including a TD, and 56 yards. On the ground, Jacobson carried six times for 48 yards and a score. Hodge had 11 carries for 39 yards.
Greely will go to 2-1 York Friday for what’s sure to be a tough test. Last year, the Rangers beat the visiting Wildcats, 23-14.
“York’s a very good team,” Hodge said. “We want to keep the rhythm going.”
Greely’s goals go much higher than a 3-0 start.
“I think the seniors came in with a mission of going to states,” said Finnegan. “I think we can do better on offense, defense and special teams. There’s always room for improvement.”
“I hope (this win) dosesn’t give us a big head,” said Higgins. “We hope to be focused at York. Class B is tough. You have to show up every week. We’re excited, but we need more attention to detail. There’s always something to work on.”
The news wasn’t as good for three other local teams.
Falmouth fell to 0-3 with a 54-0 loss at Marshwood. The 3-0 Hawks were up 35-0 after one quarter and never looked back. The Yachtsmen hope to get in the win column Friday when they welcome 1-2 Cape Elizabeth. Last year, the host Capers beat Falmouth, 28-6.
In Western C, two-time defending state champion Yarmouth fell for the second time in three games, a 22-21 heartbreaker at Maranacook. The Clippers struggled in the first half and dug a 22-0 hole. Just before halftime, Brady Neujahr hit Rys Eddy with a touchdown pass to make it 22-7.
Yarmouth still trailed by that margin entering the fourth quarter and attempted a valiant comeback, but fell short. A 61-yard TD run from Matt Klepinger (6 carries, 99 yards) and a two-point conversion made it 22-15 and with just over three minutes to play, Matt Woodbury (16 carries, 114 yards) scored on a run to pull the Clippers within 22-21. They went for the two-point conversion, but a run by Klepinger was denied. Maranacook then slammed the door on the victory.
“We didn’t get the result we wanted, but it was a fun, hard-fought game,” said Clippers coach Chris Pingitore. “Mistakes put us in a hole early. We had two holding penalties on our first drive and three costly turnovers in the first half. We started controlling the ball more in the second half. We had the right play called for the two-point conversion, but lined up in the wrong formation. We tried to get the ball back, but they controlled it. The guys were mad. We controlled the line of scrimmage, but tackling was suspect. The kids knew they had an opportunity to win.”
Thomas Lord had 73 yards on 16 rushes and Neujahr gained 55 yards on six attempts. The Clippers had a 399-256 edge in yardage.
Yarmouth (1-2) will have a tough time getting back to the .500 mark Friday when it hosts 3-0 Traip, a team which hasn’t surrendered a single point in 144 minutes of action this fall.
Last year, the Clippers beat the Rangers, 27-7, in the regular season at Kittery, then blanked them, 14-0, in the Western C Final.
“Traip has a stout offensive and defensive line,” said Pingitore. “It’s a good matchup. We need to utilize our speed, be consistent on offense and protect the ball. The kids realize it’s a pivotal game. We’re a little bit of a hole. A loss puts us deeper. A win puts us in good shape. The kids are driven.”
Freeport can tell Yarmouth about Traip’s formidability. The Falcons fell to 2-1 on the season Saturday with a 31-0 setback at the Rangers. Freeport hopes to bounce back Saturday when it goes to 1-2 Lisbon. Last year, the Falcons lost, 28-14, at the Greyhounds.
Greely senior Svenn Jacobson runs for good yardage during the Rangers’ impressive 33-12 win at Westbrook in a battle of unbeatens Friday night.