YARMOUTH—When the heavily favored Yarmouth football team took the field for Friday night’s Class C South quarterfinal against Mountain Valley, the Clippers’ goals were two-fold.
Obviously, they wanted to win.
And they wanted to get out of the game without suffering injuries.
While it took top-ranked Yarmouth’s high-powered offense awhile to kick into the gear, it was clear from the get-go that the Clippers’ defense wasn’t going to give the eighth-seeded Falcons anything and after Yarmouth stopped a pair of Mountain Valley drives, the hosts took the lead for good on a 30-yard touchdown scamper from senior Lucas Uhl.
In the second period, after junior kicker Michael Hagerty booted a 27-yard field goal, senior Jack Snyder scored on runs of 6-yards and 5-yards for a 24-0 halftime advantage.
If that wasn’t enough, the Clippers quickly put the game away in the third quarter behind huge plays from special teams and defense.
First, Snyder returned the second half’s opening kickoff 76-yards for a touchdown. Then, Yarmouth senior Ricky Tillotson, who anchored the Clippers’ superior defensive effort, sacked Falcons senior quarterback Alex Ridley, forced a fumble and senior Joey Fortin pounced on it and returned it 14-yards for another TD, which induced a mercy rule running clock.
After junior Remi Leblanc scored on a 1-yard run, Uhl broke free for another long score, this one from 56 yards, and Yarmouth had a commanding 50-0 lead heading for the fourth period.
There, Mountain Valley got on the board with a pair of touchdowns, but the Clippers went on to a decisive 50-15 victory.
Yarmouth improved to 9-0, ended the Falcons’ season at 2-7 and advanced to face either No. 4 Fryeburg Academy (5-3) or No. 5 Spruce Mountain (4-4) in next weekend’s semifinals.
“We played much better against them this time than last time,” said Clippers coach Jason Veilleux. “We executed on offense. We kept penalties down. Our special teams did great tonight. I’m really happy with this performance.”
Yarmouth enjoyed a perfect regular season, although the Clippers were twice taken to the brink before surviving Wells and Cape Elizabeth by one point each. Yarmouth earned the top seed for the first time since 2011 and matched up with Mountain Valley, a team that went 2-6 in the regular year. The Clippers and Falcons had never played in the postseason.
The teams did meet back on Sept. 11 and host Yarmouth rolled, 40-14.
This time, the Clippers won by even more.
Mountain Valley won the coin toss and in a decision that’s rarely made these days, elected to receive.
Yarmouth set the tone by forcing a three-and-out, as it allowed senior Troy Cochran to run for four yards on first down, senior Cody Cook dragged down senior Mike Provencher for no gain on second down and on third down, senior quarterback Alex Ridley threw incomplete.
The Falcons then got a break, as the ensuing punt was mishandled by Leblanc and recovered by Provencher at the Clippers’ 33, giving the underdog visitors a golden opportunity to strike first.
They didn’t capitalize.
Cochran ran for four yards on first down, but senior Austin Oswald and Provencher each were held to one yard, setting up fourth-and-4. Ridley did connect with senior Holden Blauvelt for nine yards and a first down, but Provencher gained two yards, Oswald picked up one and after Ridley threw incomplete, a two-yard pass to Blauvelt wasn’t enough for a first down and Yarmouth got the ball back at its 13.
On their first offensive play, the Clippers gained a first down as junior quarterback John Thoma connected with senior Noah Colby-George for 12 yards, but Thoma threw incomplete, Cook ran for eight yards and on third-and-2, Uhl didn’t gain anything, forcing a punt.
Yarmouth’s defense rose to the challenge, forcing a three-and-out, as Provencher was held to no gain on first down, Tillotson dragged him down for a two-yard loss on second down and on third down, a swing pass from Ridley to Provencher only went for seven yards.
The Clippers got the ball back at their 35 with 2:52 to go in the first quarter and six plays and 1 minute, 48 seconds later, they were in the end zone.
The drive began inauspiciously with a Thoma incomplete pass .Thoma then hit Colby-George for eight yards and Uhl ran for six to move the chains. After Thoma hit Cook for 14 yards, with the standout cutting back twice to elude defenders and gain extra yardage, Uhl ran for seven yards. Uhl then got the ball again and broke free for a 30-yard touchdown run with 1:04 to go in the stanza and junior Michael Hagerty’s extra point put Yarmouth up, 7-0.
Mountain Valley hoped to answer, but after Provencher ran for five yards and Cochran gained one, the very quick first quarter gave way to the second with Cochran only gaining two yards on third-and-4 and the Falcons had to punt again.
This time, the Clippers started at their 33, but after Uhl ran for 12 yards, a false start penalty backed them up five yards and after Uhl ran for five more, Thoma was thrown for a five-yard loss, then threw incomplete, forcing a punt.
Mountain Valley couldn’t take advantage, however, as again Yarmouth’s defense was stout.
After an 11 yard run by Provencher, sophomore Curtis Gauvin got the ball and gained three yards, but he fumbled and Tillotson recovered at the Clippers’ 31.
Yarmouth would drive for a score, but it would be a field goal, not a touchdown.
On first down, Thoma hit Cook for 21 yards, setting up first-and-goal just inside the 10. Uhl then ran for four, but Snyder, on his first carry, lost four yards and fumbled, but luckily for the Clippers, Cook fell on the ball. Thoma then threw incomplete and Hagerty had to come on for a 27-yard field goal, which would have been good from 40, making it 10-0 Yarmouth with 6:56 to play in the first half.
The Clippers drove 21 yards on five plays and chewed up 1:53.
The Falcons again went nowhere, as Provencher gained one yard and Cochran three before Ridley threw incomplete and Yarmouth got the ball back at its 39 with 5:22 to go before halftime.
It took just four plays and 61 seconds for the Clippers to strike paydirt.
A 40 yard scamper from Snyder got Yarmouth down to the Mountain Valley 21. Snyder then ran for seven yards and for 11 more, setting up first-and-goal at the 3. He then fittingly was allowed to cap the drive with a 3-yard TD run and when Hagerty added the PAT with 4:21 remaining in the half, the Clippers were on top, 17-0.
When Yarmouth senior Jack Venden threw Provencher for a one yard loss on the first play of the Falcons’ next possession, it looked like the Clippers would get the ball right back, but Provencher caught a pass for five yards and a Fortin sack was negated by a facemask penalty, which was followed by an 11-yard pass from Ridley to senior Ben Marston for a first down at the Yarmouth 47. The Clippers rose up from there, as Snyder held Provencher to no gain, Ridley threw incomplete and Ridley hit Provencher for only six yards on third-and-10, forcing a punt.
With 1:19 to play in the half, Yarmouth started at its 35 and in seven plays and 1:07, the Clippers marched for another touchdown.
Thoma got it started with an eight-yard pass to Snyder. He then hit Cook for 27, as Cook spun away from a tackler to get all the way to the Mountain Valley 30. After Thoma scrambled for three yards, then threw incomplete, he found Colby-George for 16 yards and a first down at the 11 with 20 seconds to go. After Thoma connected with Snyder for six yards, Snyder finished off the drive with a 5-yard TD run. Hagerty’s extra point with 12.1 seconds left stretched the lead to 24-0 and that’s how the first half would end as a desperation pass from Ridley at the horn was intercepted by Snyder.
Yarmouth outgained Mountain Valley, 239 yards to 45 in the first half. Uhl rushed seven times for 64 yards with a touchdown, while Snyder had 62 yards and two TDs on six rushes. Thoma completed 7 of 12 passes for 98 yards.
If you thought Snyder’s heroics late in the first half were memorable, he really stole the show on the kickoff which started the second half.
Snyder fielded the ball at the Clippers’ 24, cut right, then blew right through the Falcons’ coverage and didn’t stop until crossing the goal line 76 yards away just 10 seconds into the half.
“It was a perfect seam and great blocking,” Snyder said. “That’s a pretty demoralizing play (for the other team).”
Hagerty added the extra point to make it 31-0.
One touchdown in 10 seconds was pretty impressive. A second TD a minute later was equally breathtaking.
Mountain Valley started its next drive with a two-yard run from Cochran and an incomplete pass from Ridley. Ridley then dropped back again on third down, but just before he could release the ball, he was crushed from the blind side by Tillotson, fumbled and Fortin was there to pounce on it and return the loose ball 14 yards for a touchdown.
“I just beat the lineman and got the quarterback right when he was throwing it,” Tillotson said. “It was a right place at the right time kind of play. Joey made a nice scoop-and-score.”
“Ricky always steps up,” Veilleux said.
Hagerty’s extra point was blocked, but just 1 minute, 26 seconds into the second half, the Clippers’ lead was up to 37-0.
At that point, with the lead over 35 points, the clock ran due to the mercy rule.
After another Falcons’ three-and-out (Provencher ran for two yards, Cochran gained three and Ridley threw incomplete), Yarmouth started at its 41 and eight plays and 4:13 later, had another touchdown.
Snyder ran for 19 yards on the first play, then Snyder caught a pass for eight more. Runs of seven, 12 and four yards by sophomore Henry Venden were followed by a Thoma incomplete pass. Snyder then ran the ball down to the 1 and with 3:12 left in the quarter, Leblanc scored from the 1. Hagerty added the PAT and the lead was up to 44-0.
After Provencher ran for 11 yards on the first play of the next possession, Mountain Valley gave the ball away for the third time, as Cochran ran for 10 yards, but was stripped of the ball by Leblanc and freshman Noah Eckersley-Ray fell on it at the Yarmouth 44.
It took one play for the Clippers to score their final points, as Uhl took the handoff, broke free down the left sideline and scored on a 56-yard touchdown run. Hagerty missed the extra point, but with 1:19 left in a very prosperous (26 point) third quarter, Yarmouth had a 50-0 lead.
The Falcons then drove for their first points in a drive which spanned the end of the third period and the start of the fourth.
The big play to set up the score was a 15 yard run from Gauvin. Provencher capped a 10-play, 73-yard, 5:13 drive with a 2-yard run, then hit Ridley for a two-point conversion pass and with 7:36 remaining, Mountain Valley trailed, 50-8.
The Clippers went three-and-out, as Leblanc lost six yards, Eckersley-Ray (who replaced Thoma under center) scrambled for 10 yards and freshman Harry Steinharter only gained two yards on third-and-6, forcing a punt.
The Falcons drove 65 yards on five plays in 2:31 for a second score, as Ridley set it up with a 12 yard pass to Provencher, then lobbed a pass over the secondary to Gauvin for a 37-yard score with 1:39 left. Blauvelt’s extra point cut the deficit to 35.
Yarmouth then put it away, as senior Jack Venden recovered the ensuing onsides kick and the Clippers ran out the clock on their very impressive 50-15 victory.
“(Tonight) was about ourselves,” Tillotson said. “Our motto this week was, ‘Make everything perfect.’ We were playing against ourselves. We wanted to be as perfect as we possibly could be and execute. We had them well scouted. The coaches did a good job letting us know what was coming at us. We felt like we’d already seen everything.”
Snyder finished with 89 yards and two TDs on eight rushes, three catches for 22 yards, a kickoff return for a touchdown and an interception to boot.
“I have to credit the offensive line,” Snyder said. “They work so hard every play. My other backs set me up.”
“I’m very proud of Jack,” Veilleux said. “He’s been such a key player for us all year long. Sometimes he’s in Cody’s shadow a little bit, but it drives him to compete. He really stepped up tonight. He’s playing his best football.”
Uhl led the team in rushing with 120 yards and scored twice on eight carries.
Cook only touched the ball four times, which will ensure he’s fresh next weekend. Cook rushed for 22 yards on two carries and caught two passes for 48 yards.
Thoma finished 8 of 14 for 106 yards. Colby-George caught three balls for 36 yards.
“It’s great having this many good players,” Snyder said. “Defenses can’t key on just one person. We’re balanced. Thoma does a nice job making reads. Coach Veilleux teaches him a lot about defenses.”
In all, Yarmouth finished with 362 yards of offense, overcame one turnover and committed just three penalties for 15 yards.
Mountain Valley, which finished with 172 yards (126 came on the final two drives) was paced by Provencher, who had 64 yards and a TD on 15 carries. Cochran had 39 yards on 10 attempts. Gauvin rushed for 35 yards on five attempts and had a touchdown reception for 37 yards. Ridley completed 8 of 17 passes for 89 yards with a TD and an interception. The Falcons were penalized three times for 22 yards.
Yarmouth figures to get more of a test from the Phoenix or Raiders next weekend.
The Clippers beat Spruce Mountain, 29-8, Oct. 9 in Jay. The teams have no playoff history.
Yarmouth beat host Fryeburg Academy, 48-12, Sept. 26. The teams have no playoff history.
The Clippers will be up for the challenge.
“We’re not really focused all the pressure and hype,” Tillotson said. “We just stay grounded and try to perfect our game and make it about us and not our opponent. I think we need to clean up a little of our blocking and our crispness on defense.”
“We’ll get in the film room tomorrow and see what we did right and what we did wrong, then we’ll get ready for Spruce or Fryeburg,” Snyder said.
“So far, so good,” added Veilleux. “We had a very loose week of practice, which scared me as a coach, but they’ll lock it in now that the games get bigger. It’ll be a war no matter who it is.”
Yarmouth junior Michael Hagerty kicks an extra point.
Yarmouth senior Jack Snyder breaks free.
Yarmouth senior Noah Colby-George tackles Mountain Valley senior Mike Provencher.
Yarmouth junior Remi LeBlanc (20) and senior Jack Venden hit Mountain Valley senior Holden Blauvelt and break up a pass.
Yarmouth junior quarterback John Thoma prepares to throw a pass.
Yarmouth senior Jack Snyder (6) is mobbed by his teammates after scoring a touchdown during the Clippers’ 50-15 win over Mountain Valley in Friday’s Class C South quarterfinals.
Chris Lambert photos.
Yarmouth senior Ricky Tillotson exults after forcing a fumble which classmate Joey Fortin returned for a touchdown.
MV- 0 0 0 15- 15
Y- 7 17 26 0- 50
Y- Uhl 30 run (Hagerty kick)
Y- Hagerty 27 FG
Y- Snyder 6 run (Hagerty kick)
Y- Synder 5 run (Hagerty kick)
Y- Snyder 76 kickoff return (Hagerty kick)
Y- Fortin 14 fumble recovery (kick blocked)
Y- LeBlanc 1 run (Hagerty kick)
Y- Uhl 56 run (kick failed)
MV- Provencher 25 run (Ridley pass from Provencher)
MV- Gauvin 37 pass from Ridley (Blauvelt kick)