Scarborough has no answer for Bonny Eagle
STANDISH—For five weeks, the Scarborough football team stole hearts and turned heads with its scintillating and triumphant play.
But Friday evening in the Western Class A semifinal round against top-ranked Bonny Eagle, the Red Storm finally met its match.
Scarborough, ranked fourth, found itself behind, 7-0, just 17 seconds into the game. The Scots added a second score later in the first period for a 14-0 lead.
The Red Storm was still in the game at halftime and managed to move the ball at times, but never could punch it in.
A blocked punt late in the third quarter led to another Bonny Eagle score and essentially ended the competitive phase of the contest. The Scots then scored once more and went on to a 27-0 victory.
Bonny Eagle improved to 8-1, advanced to play either Thornton Academy or Sanford in next week's Western A Final and in the process, brought the curtain down on Scarborough's strong season, which ended at 6-4.
"It was tough going for us out there," said Red Storm coach Lance Johnson. "(Bonny Eagle) played great. They were very well prepared. They came out and played physical. They were hungry."
Not as advertised
Friday night's battle was one of the most highly anticipated semifinals on the slate, featuring two teams who figured to put up a lot of points.
Bonny Eagle won seven of eight games in the regular season, stumbling only at Thornton Academy, 30-21, in the penultimate week. In their seven victories, the Scots outscored the opposition, 297-102, and as a result, they earned the top seed in the new-look Western Class A. Last weekend, Bonny Eagle enjoyed a quarterfinal round bye.
Scarborough dropped its opener, 21-6, at Sanford, then made a statement with a 34-7 home victory over Bangor. The Red Storm gave host Thornton Academy and Bonny Eagle fits, but fell to both, 19-15, at the Golden Trojans and 34-26 at the Scots.
Then, everything began to come together. After a 41-14 win over Biddeford in its Homecoming game, Scarborough welcomed South Portland and played a game for the ages, finally prevailing in the second overtime, 58-57. The Red Storm then beat host Massabesic (50-21) and visiting Noble (41-6) to wrap up the regular season and lock up the No. 4 seed. Last weekend, Scarborough played host to fifth-ranked Biddeford and won a quarterfinal round game, 45-19.
The teams had no prior playoff history. Scarborough was participating in just its third ever semifinal round game in Class A and was seeking its first trip to a regional final since winning the 2002 Class B championship.
But Friday, the Red Storm started slowly and never recovered.
Scarborough won the opening coin toss, but chose to defer possession to second half.
Then, before many fans were in their seats, the Scots were on top for good.
Senior Jon Woods hinted at a big game to come when he returned the opening kickoff 42 yards to the Red Storm 46.
Then, on Bonny Eagle's first play from scrimmage, Woods got the handoff, ran to his left and raced down the sideline all the way to end zone for a 46-yard score. Senior Isaiah Reynolds added the extra point and with 11:43 still to play in the first quarter, the Scots were on top, 7-0.
Scarborough hoped to answer, but seniors Dan LeClair and Charlie Raybine (who recently returned from injury, giving his squad a huge emotional boost) only managed to run for one yard apiece and while senior quarterback Ben Greenberg gained seven on third-and-8, the Red Storm was forced to punt.
The Scots then took over at their 22 and Scarborough's defense forced a three-and-out.
The Red Storm got the ball back in great field position, at the Bonny Eagle 45, but it could do nothing with it.
LeClair gained two yards on first down. On second, Greenberg's deep pass went through the hands of senior Matt Fosler. Greenberg then ran for seven, setting up fourth-and-1. After a delay of game penalty backed the ball up five yards, Greenberg ran for five, but came up inches short and the hosts took over at their 36.
The Scots then drove 64 yards in five plays to double their lead.
A 41-yard scamper by junior Matt Smith got things started. Two plays later, junior quarterback Zach Dubiel hit Woods for 19 yards to the 3 and on the next snap, Woods capped the drive with a 3-yard run up the middle. Reynolds added the extra point to make it 14-0 with 5:04 remaining in the first period.
"Being down one score is a lot, but it's tough beind down 14-0," Greenberg said.
On the ropes, Scarborough did hang tough the rest of the half, but couldn't find the end zone.
The Red Storm picked up its initial first down when Greenberg ran for 14 yards on third-and-11. A run of seven yards by senior Chris Cyr moved the ball into Scots' territory and a four-yard gain by LeClair moved the chains again. A Greenberg seven-yard run was good for another first down and on the final play of the first quarter, Greenberg found Raybine for nine yards and Raybine's second effort picked up a first down at the 19.
But Scarborough, which was outgained, 108 yards to 64 in the first period, never got any closer as the second quarter began.
After successive incomplete passes by Greenberg, Greenberg was thrown for a six-yard sack by senior Brian Rollins. On fourth down, Greenberg threw incomplete again and the Scots took over at their 25.
Bonny Eagle moved into Scarborough territory on a 24-yard burst by Smith, but on third-and-10 from the Red Storm 16, Dubiel's throw to the right sideline was picked by Scarborough senior Brendon Smith.
The Red Storm's comeback hopes were severely compromised two plays later when LeClair was held to no gain and had to be helped off the field with a leg injury.
That proved to be the final carry of his season. After gaining over 1,000 yards, LeClair's high school career was over.
On the next play, Cyr broke free for 32 yards, thanks in large part to a Raybine block. Cyr was then thrown for a three-yard loss and no gain on successive carries and Greenberg then was intercepted by Woods at the Scots' 15.
As time wound down in the half, Bonny Ealge moved across midfield, thanks again to an 18-yard run by Smith and a 15-yard pass from Dubiel to senior Joe Bissonnette, but with 5.8 seconds showing, Dubiel's pass was intercepted by Scarborough senior Alec Cohen and the game went to the half with the score remaining 14-0.
In the first 24 minutes, the Scots enjoyed a 207-89 advantage in yardage. Greenberg completed only 1-of-9 passes for 9 yards.
As a result of deferring after winning the opening coin toss, the Red Storm got the ball first in the second half, but despite one first down (on a 14-yard pass from Greenberg to Cyr), Scarborough stalled at midfield and had to punt.
The Red Storm defense allowed one Bonny Eagle first down, but forced a punt and got the ball back at its 29.
Three plays then lost three yards and Scarborough had to punt.
Greenberg dropped back to do so, but his kick was blocked by Woods and the hosts took over at the Red Storm 2.
Dubiel kept the ball and barrelled in for a 2-yard TD and although Reynolds missed the extra point wide right, the Scots' lead was up to 20-0 with 4:28 remaining in the third.
"It was only a 14-point game at halftime," Johnson said. "If we'd been able to do anything with the ball to start the half, we would have been right back in the game, but we weren't able to do anything offensively. Our offense didn't help our defense out."
A 52-yard catch and run by Fosler appeared to finally set the stage for a Scarborough touchdown, but after Greenberg hit junior Andrew Simons for seven yards to the 1, junior Zach Carriero (LeClair's replacement) was stopped for no gain and Raybine was thrown for a loss by (who else?) Woods and Bonny Eagle got the ball back on downs with 1:14 to play in the quarter, essentially ending the competitive phase of the contest.
As the third period gave way to the fourth, the Scots moved from their 2 across midfield and while they ultimately had to punt, they bled 6 minutes, 49 seconds off the clock.
The Red Storm finally got the ball back at its 24 with 6:25 to play, but three plays later, Greenberg was intercepted by Bissonnette at midfield and Bissonnette compounded matters by returning the ball to the Scarborough 16.
Four plays later, Bonny Eagle was in the end zone again.
After a one-yard run by Dubiel, the quarterback hit Smith for a dozen and a first down at the 3. After an illegal motion penalty backed the Scots up five yards and Dubiel was held to no gain, Bissonnette took a handoff, swept left and didn't stop until he crossed the goal line. Reynolds' extra point made it 27-0 with 3:12 to play.
Scarborough's final drive resulted in gaining just five yards on four plays and the Scots got the ball back at the Red Storm 43 with just over a minute to go.
Three Dubiel kneel-downs later, the final horn sounded and Bonny Eagle had a 27-0 triumph.
"They were ready to play," said Greenberg. "They fought hard. Give them credit. They played well. We battled. We held them to 14 the majority of the game, but they were just the tougher team today."
"I think they played a lot different than the first time we came here," Johnson said. "We've been pretty successful running left behind (senior lineman) Mike Pino all year and they used Isaiah Reynolds to stop us. They had a big guy to match Mike. That changed the game a little bit. They got out of their stack defense. They set the edge better on us and didn't let us get outside. It obviously hurt losing Dan. He's been a great leader and a very good runner for us. With him and Ben and the receivers we have, we can spread the ball out, but without him, it was a little more difficult for us."
For the game, Scarborough was outgained, 287-165.
Greenberg ended up 4-of-19 for 82 yards and two interceptions.
"I wasn't on tonight," Greenberg said. "Losing Dan hurt the running game. We hit big plays the first time we played them, but they improved and covered that up. They adjusted."
"Ben got pressured pretty good," Johnson said. "I have no issues with the effort we got from Ben. He threw some good balls and he threw some bad balls."
Greenberg also ran for 45 yards on eight attempts. Cyr had 33 yards on five carries, while LeClair bowed out with 13 yards on seven attempts.
Bonny Eagle was paced Woods' 99 yards and two scores on 15 carries. Smith had 88 yards on six rushes. Dubiel completed 8-of-15 passes for 95 yards and two interception. He also ran for 29 yards and a touchdown on 13 carries. Bissonnette caught six balls for 64 yards.
While tears and hugs were prevalent in the postgame huddle, there's no denying that Scarborough was one of the most exciting and successful teams around this fall.
The Red Storm never gave up and certainly played its best when it mattered most.
"Even when Charlie was out, he encouraged us the whole way," Greenberg said. "The seniors led the team. The underclassmen had tremendous respect for us and rallied around us."
Johnson had nothing but praise.
"We built great relationships with these kids," he said. "It's been really rewarding. We've got a really good group of kids. They work hard. They did everything we asked. They set a good example for the underclassmen. The senior class was a great group of guys. Hard workers. Gentlemen. Just a pleasure to be around."
Graduation will do a number on the program, but Scarborough expects to remain a contender in 2014.
"We're competing physically better every year," Johnson said. "I think we're coming. We graduate a lot, but we have some numbers. We'll get to work in the offseason and get back at it."