Wednesday, December 11, 2013
SKOWHEGAN — Longtime Mt. Blue High School head football coach Gary Parlin is no prophet, but he’s been prowling the sidelines long enough to know when one of his hunches is going to be correct.
Mt. Blue quarterback Andrew Pratt gets tripped up by Skowhegan's Gus Benson, 52, in the first quarter of the Cougars' 42-40 win Friday night in Skowhegan.
Staff photo / Michael G. Seamans
“I’m not saying I know anything about anything, but we did say all week, this game will come down to extra points. And it did,” Parlin said.
Parlin’s Cougars converted 2 of 4 tries on 2-point conversions, while Skowhegan was 2 of 6 on 2-point tries. That was pretty much the difference in one of the closest Pine Tree Conference Class B games of the season, and Mt. Blue left Clark Field with a 42-40 win.
“I’d say that was a good battle between two evenly-matched teams,” Skowhegan head coach Matt Friedman said.
These rivals may play each other again next week in the first round of the playoffs. Mt. Blue (5-3) will host a game, while Skowhegan (4-4) will be on the road.
“It wasn’t a must-win game, but we wanted to bring one (game) back to Caldwell Field in the playoffs,” Mt. Blue senior Kindle Bonsall said.
With Mt. Blue nursing a 35-32 lead with under three minutes to play, Bonsall caught a short pass on third and 8 at his own 43. With his coaches screaming on the sidelines to stay in bounds, Bonsall did just that, trying to get the first down. He did more, eluding tacklers for a 57-yard touchdown and a 10-point lead.
“There was a lot going through my head, and in bounds was one of them. I almost went out of bounds, but I was like, no I can’t. We need to keep the clock running,” Bonsall said.
Skowhegan cut Mt. Blue’s lead to two when Owen Mercier caught a 5-yard touchdown pass from Adam Clukey with 20.1 seconds left, and Kaleb Brown ran in the 2-point conversion. Skowhegan’s ensuing onside kick took a funny bounce and spun backward, and failed to go 10-yards. The Cougars took over and took a knee to end the game.
Ahead 21-20 at the half, Mt. Blue appeared to take control of the game with a pair of third quarter touchdowns. Quarterback Andrew Pratt ran 8 yards for a touchdown with 10:26 left in the quarter, and JT Williams scored on a 12-yard run with 1:58 left in the third to push the Cougars’ lead to 35-20.
Ben Salley’s 17-yard touchdown catch from Clukey with 10:32 left in the game pulled the Indians closer, and with 5:58, Clukey (190 yards passing) hit DJ Allen with a 20-yard touchdown pass to cut Mt. Blue’s lead to 35-32.
Turnovers were the key difference in the game, Friedman said. The Indians turned the ball over three times, and Mt. Blue scored on each ensuing possession. The Cougars also scored in the first quarter after a bad punt snap gave them the ball at the Skowhegan 15 yard line.
“We put the ball on the ground three times, and they were very costly,” Friedman said.
Skowhegan took an 8-0 lead midway through the first quarter on a 1-yard run by Brown (30 carries for 178 yards). Mt. Blue answered with 1:58 left in the first when Pratt hit Cam Abbott with an 11-yard slant pass for a score.
Williams gave the Cougars a 15-8 lead when he caught a screen pass from Pratt, and ran over a pair of would-be tacklers on his way to a 34-yard touchdown. The Indians answered on the kickoff, when Brett Gilbert went 89 yards for a touchdown, making the score 15-14.
With 3:06 to play in the first half, Williams connected with Nate Backus on a halfback pass for a 39-yard touchdown play. With 33.4 seconds left in the first half, Brown scored on a 9-yard run making Mt. Blue’s lead 21-20 at the break.
Pratt threw for 184 yards for Mt. Blue. Salley led Skowhegan receivers with seven catches for 88 yards.