– Morning Sentinel

FARMINGTON – When his team’s 21-point lead was suddenly cut to six early in the fourth quarter, Mt. Blue’s Gary Parlin did what good football coaches have done for decades: He put the ball in the hands of his best player and told him to go win the game.

That player is Jordan Whitney, and with his team in need of a big play, Whitney made a few of them, helping top-seeded Mt. Blue secure a 33-21 win over No. 4 Gardiner in an Eastern Class B semifinal Friday night.

The senior quarterback marched the Cougars 80 yards in nine plays on a crucial fourth-quarter drive, running seven times and throwing once. The pass came on fourth-and-22 from the Gardiner 31, and it was a touchdown to Nate Backus in the right corner of the end zone.

“Coach (Parlin) has been wanting to get that pass all year. Ever since I was a sophomore, he’s been like ‘We’re going to get one of those corner passes.’ Nate made a great catch,” Whitney said.

Mt. Blue (10-0) will host the winner of Saturday’s game between No. 7 Belfast and No. 6 Waterville in the regional championship game next week. Gardiner ends the season at 6-4.

“He did that drive by himself,” Parlin said. “They took away some inside stuff, but left some outside stuff for Jordan.”

Whitney finished with 313 yards of offense. He ran for 140 yards and a touchdown on 16 carries and was 7 of 7 passing for 173 yards and three touchdowns.

“Coach (Parlin) just put in a bunch of quarterback running plays this week. I was like ‘I’m running the ball, I guess.’ It worked. The line blocked so well tonight,” Whitney said.

Chad Luker’s 9-yard touchdown run early in the third quarter gave Mt. Blue a 27-7 lead, but when a high snap went over Whitney’s head and into the end zone on Mt. Blue’s next possession, Gardiner’s Steve Sirois fell on the ball for a touchdown.

The Cougars lost a fumble on the Gardiner 22 on their next possession, and the Tigers went 78 yards in 10 plays. Seth Wing scored on a 6-yard run, and it was 27-21 with 10:05 left.

After eking out a 14-13 win over No. 8 Mt. Desert Island last week, the Cougars came out with more intensity. Nick Hyde intercepted a Dennis Meehan pass on Gardiner’s fourth play from scrimmage, setting up Mt. Blue’s first score. Mt. Blue held Gardiner to 97 yards in the first half and focused on containing Meehan throughout the game. Defensive end Zak Kendall and linebacker Luker combined for five tackles for a loss.

Mt. Blue opened a 21-0 lead before Meehan (nine carries for 58 yards) scored on a 4-yard run with 1.7 seconds left in the first half. The touchdown came one play after Tyler Jamison ran 9 yards on a fake field goal.