Strong weekend on the gridiron

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Three of four local football teams earned victories last weekend, with the fourth putting forth a tremendous effort.

Falmouth, which won just once in 2012, has already doubled that total, thanks to a hard-fought 7-0 victory at Morse Friday. The Yachtsmen, 48-0 home winners over Gorham in their opener, were scoreless with the Shipbuilders at halftime, but Connor Aube had a TD run in the third period and Falmouth’s defense made it hold up as the Yachtmen improved to 2-0.

“We’re very pleased,” said Falmouth coach John Fitzsimmons. “We played in torrential rain, but the good news is that it was a turf field. There were no surprises in a game like that. We were going to run and they were going to run and we just waited for a mistake. Our defense played exceptionally well.

“Every week we get better. We showed great progress from the Gorham game to the Morse game. Physically, our younger guys are learning to play at the varsity level. The team’s intensity is very good.”

Falmouth looks for a 3-0 start Friday when it hosts 0-2 York. The teams haven’t met since the first game of the 2010 season, a 34-25 Yachtsmen win at York.

“York may be the best 0-2 team in the state,” Fitzsimmons said. “They’re technically sound. They don’t want to be 0-3. They’ll be prepared. I’m pleased we’re at home, but it will be tough.”

Freeport, which dropped a 53-20 home decision to Spruce Mountain in its opener, went to Gray-New Gloucester last weekend. The game was supposed to be played Friday, but bad weather delayed it 24 hours.

After turning the ball over to start the game, the Falcons found themselves down, 6-0, but tied the score, 6-6, on a 13-yard TD run from David Schaedler (18 carries, 110 yards, one TD). Late in the first half, Freeport took its first lead, 12-6, on a 6-yard TD run from Ben MacMillan. The Patriots tied the game late in the third, but the Falcons went ahead for good, 18-12. when Eli Fox connected with Joe Nixon for a 30-yard score with 10:27 to play.

“I knew it was a big play. I just had to look for the ball, hope to catch it and get into the end zone,” said Nixon, who dove for the left pylon to do just that.

Nixon came up with a big defensive play on Gray’s next possession. With a couple of his teammates stacking up Johnson on a run, Nixon ripped the ball out of the senior halfback’s hands at Freeport’s 30 with 7:12 remaining.

“They were driving on us. They were going to get it in if something didn’t happen,” Nixon said. “I just tried to get the ball out so we could run the clock down on them. My teammates held him up and I just did my part.”

Freeport had to hold on for dear life down the stretch and could finally celebrate its first win when McMillan and Schaedler registered a tackle at the Falcons’ 30 as time expired.

“The kids stepped up when they had to,” Freeport coach Rob Grover said. “We still have to work on wrapping up and making better tackles, but overall, we stepped up when we had to.”

The Falcons welcome 1-1 Poland Saturday afternoon.

Greely, which opened with a 41-16 home loss to reigning regional champion Marshwood, went to Fryeburg Saturday and evened its record with a hard-fought 38-24 triumph.

The Rangers fell behind, 8-0, early, but got on the board when Matt Pisini found Connor Hanley for a 72-yard scoring pass. After the Raiders extended their lead to 16-6, Greely got a 66-yard Pisini-to-Sam Peck TD pass and a Peck conversion rush to pull within 16-14 after 12 exciting minutes.

The Rangers went ahead to stay on a 3-yard Peck run in the second quarter and took a 26-16 lead to halftime thanks to an 18-yard scoring from Will Peck.

Greely couldn’t extend its lead in the third quarter, but got a 4-yard TD from James Ferrar in the fourth quarter to make it 32-16. The hosts ended the 26-0 Rangers’ run with a TD run and two-point conversion to make it a one-score game, 32-24, but Pisini figured in one final scoring pass, this time as the receiver, from Jonny Burton, on a 47-yard score in the final minute, and Greely prevailed.

“It’s always tough to get that first win,” said Rangers coach David Higgins. “It was a typical Fryeburg game. We were a little lethargic at the start. We were behind, but a bunch of young kids stepped up. We had two opportunities to score in the third quarter and came away empty. They got a late TD and we were only up eight and I got impatient trying to run out the clock and had us throw a bomb.

“Jonny did a great job stepping in at quarterback. On defense, freshman Andrew Ray stood out.”

Greely hosts 0-2 Gorham Friday evening. The Rangers and Rams haven’t played since Gorham drubbed host Greely, 72-9, way back on Oct. 29, 2004. Gorham lost its first two games to Falmouth and Hampden Academy by a composite 120-7 margin, but the Rangers won’t take the Rams lightly.

“We haven’t them play in forever,” Higgins said. “It will take a lot of film study. After that, we really get into the heat of our schedule.”

Yarmouth, which impressed in a 36-6 win over Gray-New Gloucester in its opener, might have been even more impressive Friday when it hosted longtime Class B power Leavitt, now in Western C. The game was scheduled to be played Thursday, due to the Jewish holiday of Yom Kippur, but poor conditions moved it to Friday afternoon.

Yarmouth flew to the ball defensively and used its perimeter speed on offense to build a surprising 7-6 halftime lead.

Matt Woodbury, who made more than a dozen tackles, recovered a fumble at the Leavitt 33 to set up the Clippers’ score. Thomas Lord barreled in from a yard out with 8:02 left. Ben Still booted the extra point. The Hornets came right back and got a TD of their own, but missed the point-after.

Yarmouth never could build on its lead and finally, with 10 minutes remaining, Leavitt got the go-ahead touchdown and two-point conversion. Clippers quarterback Brady Neujahr was intercepted twice in the late going and Yarmouth fell just short, 14-7.

“I think we proved one thing. I think we proved Yarmouth’s a pretty darn good football team in this new conference,” Yarmouth coach Chris Pingitore said. “We knew what we were up against, but I wasn’t surprised that we came out and took the lead. We play with speed and we play hard. The mystery is that we’ve never played them. With teams you’ve played in the past, you understand their adjustments. Going in cold feet was exciting, but it’s a challenge.”

The Clippers look to bounce back Friday at Lake Region (1-1, after an upset win over Mountain Valley last week). The teams have no history.

Sun Journal staff writers Kalle Oakes and Randy Whitehouse contributed to this article.

Sports Editor Michael Hoffer can be reached at Follow him on Twitter: @foresports.

Sports Editor of The Forecaster since 2001. Find detailed game stories at I tweet prodigiously at @foresports.