PORTLAND – Bradley Jackson kept waiting to make a play.
When he did, it came at the best possible time for the Mt. Blue High football team.
Jackson recovered a fumble with 1:46 left Saturday night that secured the Cougars’ first football state title since 1980.
In a memorable game that exhausted the players, coaches and fans, Mt. Blue held off Marshwood 44-42 before 3,500 chilled fans at Fitzpatrick Stadium.
Chad Luker of Mt. Blue scored five touchdowns on short runs and the defense forced three turnovers: An interception and fumble recovery led to two touchdowns in the first half, and Jackson’s fumble recovery ended the game.
“You can’t do that in a state championship game and expect to win,” said Alex Rotsko, the first-year coach of the Hawks but a veteran of championship games, having won 11 in Massachusetts. “That was the difference in the game. You just can’t do that.”
Mt. Blue finished 12-0. Marshwood, playing in its first state championship game since 1989, ended 10-2.
“It was the most nerve-racking thing that I’ve ever done,” said Luker, who scored on runs of 4, 1, 2, 3 and 1 yards, after scoring four touchdowns in the Eastern Class B final. “That was the best offense I ever played against. And it was so much fun. It was brutal. It was like a war. And we won the battle at the end.”
This game got crazy quickly. A Nicholas Hyde interception on the sixth play of the game gave Mt. Blue the ball at Marshwood’s 33. Three plays later, Luker powered in for his first touchdown, a 4-yard run, and it was 6-0.
Marshwood came back to take the lead two plays later on a 67-yard pass from Cameron Roll to Beau Blanchette. Dan Lizotte’s conversion rush made it 8-6.
The lead lasted all of 14 seconds: Calen Lucas took the kickoff 86 yards for the score that put the Cougars of Farmington on top for good. Jordan Whitney rushed for the conversion, and it was 15-8.
Marshwood fumbled on the first play after the kickoff and Dustin Richards of Mt. Blue recovered at the Hawks 13. That led to Luker’s second touchdown, a 1-yard run, and a 21-8 lead.
The pace never slowed.
Marshwood, led by Roll, would score. The Cougars, led by Whitney at quarterback, would counter.
Whitney made two huge plays down the stretch. First, facing fourth-and-4 at Marshwood’s 20, he faked a handoff to two backs, then passed to a wide-open Zakary Kendall for a touchdown that made it 44-35.
Marshwood pulled within 44-42 on a 10-yard run and Justin Hockey PAT kick with 4:04 left.
Marshwood then forced the only punt of the game — and it was a great one, Whitney’s 50-yard punt pinning Marshwood at its 7 with 1:50 remaining.
On the first play, Lizotte fumbled as he was hit and Jackson recovered at the 10.
“The ball popped out, happened to roll in front of me,” said Jackson. “I picked it up, made a play.
“I had been waiting all game for the defense, and myself, to make a play. We got lucky and pulled through.”
It was a marvelous game by both offenses.
Roll rushed for 126 yards and a touchdown and threw two touchdown passes — 67 yards to Blanchette and 14 to Ryan O’Neil. Gerry rushed for 82 yards and two touchdowns. Lizotte had 68 yards and a score.
But the Cougars were equally proficient. Whitney rushed for 118 yards and Lucas 57.
“We didn’t have an answer for them,” said Rotsko. “They’re disappointed now, but there are worse things in life than losing a football game. We had a great season and I’m proud of the kids.”
Staff Writer Mike Lowe can be contacted at 791-6422 or at: