WELLS — On the opening drive of the Western Class B football final, Wells found itself going backward: a 2-yard loss, then consecutive penalties.

Would the school that hadn’t reached a state final in 14 years wilt against Mountain Valley, the defending state champ with five Fitzpatrick Stadium appearances in the last seven years?

Hardly.

Wells righted itself with an early field goal and protected its lead with a stout defense that never allowed the Falcons inside the red zone, beating Mountain Valley 10-0 on Saturday at Warrior Memorial Field.

The Warriors (11-0) advanced to the Class B state championship game for the first time since 1997. They will face Leavitt, the Eastern Maine champion, next Saturday at Fitzpatrick Stadium in Portland at a time to be determined.

“It feels so good,” said Wells right guard and senior captain Andrew Staples, the lead blocker on the sweep resulting in the game’s only touchdown.

Drew Shelley carried the ball on the 29-yard scoring run late in the third quarter. It turned out to be the longest play of a game in which a pair of hard-hitting defenses contested every yard.

“Our defense played huge,” said Wells linebacker Louis DiTomasso. “It was a defensive game, period. Mountain Valley’s got a nasty D and we’ve always had a good D. They’re a good team but we outplayed them.”

Indeed, Wells held Mountain Valley (9-2) to 57 yards rushing and 54 passing. The Falcons crossed midfield only twice. They punted four times, were intercepted three times (twice by Wells cornerback Joey Spinelli) and turned the ball over on downs three times.

“They were tough in the middle and we try to run in the middle a lot,” said Mountain Valley running back Kyle Duguay, who managed 39 yards on 14 carries. “Nothing really seemed to be working on offense. They’ve got a wicked good defense, that’s why.”

When Mountain Valley went to the air, which quarterbacks Zach Radcliffe and Izaak Mills tried 19 times, the passer often found difficulty getting rid of the ball because of Warrior defensive pressure.

Defensive end Josh Ingalls knocked down three passes in the backfield.

“We put pressure on the QB,” said Wells Coach Tim Roche. “In the last two weeks, we’ve done a great job getting our hands up. And with a kid like Ingalls (who stands 6-foot-4), with his hands up, he’s 7 foot, and it’s tough to throw over him. If you make that adjustment to throw over him, you’re not throwing the ball you want to throw.”

Wells took a 3-0 lead on a 24-yard field goal by Spinelli after an opening drive that appeared stalled until quarterback Paul McDonough’s 16-yard scramble on third down set up a fourth-and-1.

DiTomasso converted with a 7-yard gain and Wells drove inside the 10 before Mountain Valley held.

“We didn’t want to come away with nothing because we knew it was going to be a defensive game,” said Spinelli, whose kick left no doubt. “We just wanted to get points.”

It remained 3-0 at the half. Wells fashioned an 11-play drive of 92 yards in the third quarter, with only two plays gaining more than 6 yards.

The first was a 23-yard inside reverse by Zack Deshaies. The second, set up by a Falcons facemask penalty, was the touchdown run by Shelley.

“We just want to keep it going,” said DiTomasso, who finished with 69 yards on 18 carries for Wells.

“Get that Gold Ball and bring it home.”

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

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