BATH – It takes fewer than 10 seconds for Kevin McKellar to run 30 yards on a football field. More than enough time for the Morse High quarterback to make a decision he should never regret.

Rather than run or even walk into the end zone, McKellar intentionally stepped out of bounds 8 yards from paydirt. His team didn’t need to pad the score. He didn’t think he needed another touchdown.

“It seemed like the right thing to do,” McKellar said after Tuesday’s practice. He broke eye contact to look at his feet. You would not have been surprised if he said “aw, shucks, don’t make a big deal out of this.”

If not a big deal, it’s certainly reassuring that in this world of more-is-always-better, someone had the sanity to step back. Morse had already scored 52 points on Old Town and led by more than three touchdowns with less than three minutes to play.

High-powered offenses or inexperienced defenses have ballooned scores this season. The week before, Morse beat Madison, 56-20. Maine high school football teams are scoring more like Maine high school basketball teams.

“We had 50 points scored on us in three games,” said Dylan Harrington, a wide receiver. “We know what that feels like.” He and his quarterback and lineman Zack Fone and running back D’Vaughn Myers had come over to talk about what really was a spontaneous act by McKellar.

Second-year coach Jason Darling never told McKellar not to score. “He yelled at me afterward but not because I didn’t score,” said McKellar with a small grin. “I ran out of bounds, stopping the clock. The smart thing was to go down in bounds. He was right.”

The play was a simple quarterback sneak. McKellar found a hole in the line and then daylight. No Old Town defender was near so he kept running. And thinking. What was the purpose of scoring again?

He had already passed for five touchdowns, returned an interception 75 yards for a sixth and run 58 yards on a quarterback keeper for his seventh. Did he need to score an eighth time in a one-sided game? McKellar decided he didn’t.

“We were confused,” said Harrington. “We didn’t know what he was doing.” It didn’t take long for Harrington and his teammates to understand and see a bigger picture.

“Getting 50 points scored on you is the worst feeling in the world,” said Fone. “You’re trying your best but it’s like banging your head against a wall. We know that feeling.”

McKellar, a junior who was named team captain last season, put himself in his opponents’ shoes. Old Town can score points but it struggles mightily on defense. Old Town also played cleanly. “Sometimes when the score gets like that, the game gets chippy,” said Fone.

“Old Town played hard.”

In Morse’s big win over Madison the week before, Darling had talked to McKellar about a touchdown pass he threw late in the game. “Coach let me know I shouldn’t have thrown the ball. I probably remembered that when I went out of bounds.”

Morse won two of its nine games last season, Darling’s first. Saturday’s win evened Morse’s record at 3-3 with a tough opponent in Mt. Blue coming up. Tuesday, about 30 players were at practice. A few were absent. Myers, nursing some late-season aches, didn’t dress. In fact, he’s McKellar’s backup, which was the main reason McKellar was still in Saturday’s game. Myers needed to be on the sideline.

“They’re good kids,” said Darling, a Morse High and Western New England College graduate. He was talking about their mental makeup as much as their skills as he rebuilds a program. Only three years ago, Morse was playing Mountain Valley for the state Class B title.

“That was so long ago,” said Fone, a senior. “I was a freshman. It’s almost like it didn’t happen.”

McKellar’s decision to not score one more touchdown did happen. He took a little grief from classmates at the Homecoming dance that night. C’mon, gotta score, gotta score.

No, he didn’t. Scoring eight touchdowns would have put him on someone’s list. Not scoring one put him in a much better place.

Staff Writer Steve Solloway can be contacted at 791-6412 or at: [email protected]

Twitter: SteveSolloway