CAPE ELIZABETH – Jim Aylward could have chosen the safe route.

Could have taken a knee or three near his end zone and bolted to the locker room with a five-point halftime lead rather than risk a fumble.

Instead, the Mountain Valley coach opted for a quick trap to Matt Hosie.

When Hosie managed 14 yards, Aylward kept rolling the dice and wound up with a 49-yard trick-play touchdown that proved the difference in a 20-14 victory over Cape Elizabeth in a Western Class B game between once-beatens Friday night at Hannaford Field.

Mountain Valley ended the regular season with a 7-1 record, wrapped up the No. 2 seed in Western Maine and likely will host No. 7 Spruce Mountain in the first round of the playoffs. Cape Elizabeth (6-2) is the likely No. 3 seed and will host No. 6 Greely.

The Capers are also dealing with the loss of three starters injured Friday night: lineman and kicker Matt Ross, quarterback Connor Maguire and end Billy Brooks. Each left before halftime, Ross after injuring his foot on the opening kickoff.

“We lost three big players and each guy that went in just stepped up and played their (heart out),” said Cape Elizabeth Coach Aaron Filieo. “I’ve never coached a group of kids like this. They’re just incredible.”

The Capers seemed off kilter from the start. After Ross picked up the squibbed kickoff, he felt something pop in his left foot and spent the rest of the game on crutches. Not only is he a stellar two-way lineman, he handles all the Cape kicking duties.

The second play from scrimmage saw the first of two muffed handoffs. The first led to a 41-yard Mountain Valley scoring drive that made it 6-0. The second squirted into the end zone for a Mountain Valley touchback to negate what had seemed an inevitable Cape touchdown.

The Capers took a 7-6 lead by forcing a Falcon fumble on a sack by Austin Petsinger. Brooks scooped up the ball inside the 20, ran a few steps and fumbled again after being hit. This time, teammate Nick Moulton grabbed it at the 4 and ran it in for the tying score. Back-up kicker Cam Wilson’s extra-point kick gave Cape its only lead at 7-6.

The Falcons rallied behind an effective offensive line and the running of Kyle Duguay, who finished with 200 yards and a touchdown on 26 carries. A Zach Radcliffe quarterback sneak on fourth-and-inches gave Mountain Valley a 12-7 lead with less than three minutes left in the half.

A long Petsinger punt after a three-and-out series gave the Falcons possession at their 5 with 1:22 remaining and Cape unable to stop the clock. Five runs by Hosie (62 yards on 15 carries) and Duguay brought the ball across midfield.

“When you get to midfield, you’ve got to take a couple shots down there,” Aylward said. “We ran the old halfback pass. I think Taylor Carey, myself and everybody in the stadium couldn’t believe how wide open he was.”

Indeed, Izaak Mills took a short toss from Radcliffe, drifted right and fired a long pass to Carey, who caught it in stride, broke one tackle and scored with 11 seconds left. A conversion pass from Radcliffe to Isaac Roberts made it 20-7.

Although Cape Elizabeth scored on its first possession of the third quarter, with Derek Roberts sneaking over from the 1, Mountain Valley came up with two critical fourth-down stops in the final three minutes to seal the victory.

“It was pretty crazy,” Duguay said. “They’re a real good team. It took a lot for us to stop them that last half.”

Staff Writer Glenn Jordan can be contacted at 791-6425 or at: [email protected]

Twitter: GlennJordanPPH