September 20, 2013

HIGH SCHOOL FOOTBALL: Messalonskee wins slugfest with Mt. Blue

By Matt DiFilippo mdifilippo@centralmaine.com
Staff Writer

OAKLAND — Maine high school football has always had a lot of blowouts, and the potential for upsets. Hopefully, Maine high school football will always have games like Friday night’s two-sided slugfest between Messalonskee and visiting Mt. Blue.

The game featured over 900 yards in offense and 13 touchdowns. It wasn’t decided until Messalonskee’s Devin Warren intercepted Mt. Blue gunslinger Andrew Pratt’s final pass as time ran out, and Messalonskee had a 49-41 victory.

“We definitely know we’re a good team,” said Messalonskee quarterback Jake Dexter, who ran for three touchdowns and was 6 of 7 passing for 137 yards and two scores. “We can play with some of the better teams in the league. We had a hiccup the last two weeks, but we’re definitely a contender, and we’ll keep getting better every week.”

Mt. Blue (2-1) was coming off a 39-0 victory over Lawrence, and it’s natural to assume the Cougars were suffering from the common malady of overconfidence. Mt. Blue coach Gary Parlin said the opposite was true.

“We had some assignment mistakes,” Parlin said. “We really over-pursued to the ball. When you over-pursue the ball, that means that you’re going too hard. That will be something to work on, and we will get better. I guarantee that.”

While Mt. Blue’s offense scuffled on its first three drives, Messalonskee (1-2) had a wide range of weapons. Dexter was a threat running or passing, Corey McKenzie rushed 18 times for 179 yards, and Warren caught four passes for 107 yards. Warren’s catches were a huge factor, as Mt. Blue did not properly cover Messalonskee’s “waggle” play, leaving the Eagles to make some big third-down conversions.

If you can believe it, this was a 6-0 game after one quarter, with Dexter scoring on a 4-yard run. Messalonskee led 21-14 by halftime, adding touchdowns on an 18-yard run by Zach Mathieu and a beautiful 33-yard pass from Dexter to Warren. Dexter made a rainbow throw with Mt. Blue’s Jacob Williams in his face, and Warren made a running over-the-shoulder catch at the other end.

“I really lost track of the ball,” Warren said. “At the last second, I caught a glimpse of it and caught it on the left side.”

Mt. Blue stayed close on a 15-yard touchdown run by Kindle Bonsall and a 36-yard scoring pass from Pratt to Nate Backus. But three plays into the second half, Dexter got good protection and hit Warren for a 54-yard score.

“The linemen played great,” Dexter said. “Big push all night. They worked their (butts) off. That was crazy. They played a great game.”

Williams (12 carries, 127 yards) ran one in from 24 yards out to get Mt. Blue within 28-21.

Messalonskee pushed its lead to 41-21 on a 2-yard run by Dexter and a swerving 34-yard run by McKenzie. After Pratt scored on a 57-yard run, Dexter scored again from 2 yards out — after a diving fourth-down catch by McKenzie — and the Eagles led 49-27 with 8:40 to go in the game.

Pratt (188 yards passing, 67 rushing) led Mt. Blue to a score on a 54-yard completion to Williams and an 11-yard pass to Backus. The last one came with 29 seconds to play and made it 49-41, but Mt. Blue stayed alive by recovering the onside kick at its own 49. Pratt three four incompletions as time ran out. His last pass was intercepted by Warren. It was Warren’s third interception of the game and Messalonskee’s fifth. Mathieu and Jack Bernatchez also picked off passes for the Eagles.

Matt DiFilippo — 861-9243
mdifilippo@mainetoday.com

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