KENNEBUNK – After building a comfortable lead, Kennebunk withstood a pair of costly turnovers and came up big on defense Friday night to hold off Marshwood 21-14 at Veterans Memorial Field.
The game pitted a pair of unbeaten Western Class B football teams that until recently played in Class A.
“They didn’t give up,” said Kennebunk fullback and linebacker Nicco DeLorenzo. “They’re a real good team.”
A 1-yard run by DeLorenzo started a Kennebunk scoring splurge that reached 18-0 at halftime.
The Rams (4-0) also scored on a 6-yard pass from Nick Emmons to Larson Coppinger, a safety when linebacker Ben Bath tackled Marshwood ballcarrier Brett Gerry in the end zone for a 2-yard loss, and a hurried 19-yard field goal by Jake Lary five seconds before the break when Kennebunk had run out of timeouts.
A fumble on Kennebunk’s opening drive of the third quarter gave Marshwood (3-1) new life, and the Hawks drove 53 yards on the ground for a touchdown. Jackson Howarth skirted left end and cut upfield for the final 6 yards to make it 18-6.
A goal-line stand by Marshwood led to another Lary field goal, this one of 31 yards, to make it 21-6 early in the fourth quarter.
“He’s got a lot of life in that leg,” said Kennebunk Coach Joe Rafferty of the senior who played soccer until this fall.
Lary also handles the punting, and his 34-yarder that bounced out of bounds at the Marshwood 2 in the second quarter set up the safety.
A second Kennebunk fumble moments after the Rams had stopped a fourth-and-2 near midfield once more swung momentum toward Marshwood. The Hawks needed only five plays to score, leading off with an inside reverse to Burt Dow good for 17 yards and finishing with a 13-yard completion from Luc Blanchette to Noah Kreider.
Blanchette ran in the 2-point conversion to make it 21-14 with more than seven minutes remaining.
“I think we were fortunate to be in that situation,” said Marshwood Coach Alex Rotsko. “It seemed to me that they controlled the game for the most part.”
Still, the Hawks forced a punt and Zach Doyon just missed blocking it. They took over at their 41 but once more came up short on a fourth-and-short situation, their third unsuccessful conversion attempt on fourth down.
“I was proud of how our defense stepped up,” said Rafferty, “because they have three very, very good weapons.”
Marshwood had one final chance from its 20 with just over two minutes remaining and no timeouts, but Kennebunk defensive tackle Jake Boothby knocked down a pass, then recovered a fumble when the Hawks tried another double-handoff inside reverse.
“Toward the end it was really for Ty,” Boothby said. “We really had to win it for him.”
Senior captain Tyler Elkington left the game with a foot injury on Kennebunk’s second offensive series. He stuck around until halftime, when he went for X-rays.
“We pulled it together late and came up with a good win,” said Kennebunk quarterback and outside linebacker Nick Emmons. “We had to overcome adversity.”
Marshwood, the defending Western Class B champion, looked strong at the start. Blanchette ripped off a 26-yard bootleg on the first play from scrimmage and moments later Gerry burst off tackle for 15.
But the Rams held. They took over on downs at their 26, failed to move the ball and used the strong leg of Lary to get them out of trouble.
The rest of the half was all Kennebunk; Marshwood managed only a single yard in its remaining four drives of the half.
Meanwhile, Kennebunk put together three scoring drives. Emmons connected with Coppinger for 39 yards and Austin Sandler for 11 to set up a 1-yard dive by DeLorenzo. With Lary’s PAT kick, the Rams led 7-0 after one quarter.
Following the safety, Kennebunk drove 47 yards for another score, set up by a 33-yard completion to DeLorenzo on a post pattern down the middle. Emmons hit Coppinger on a similar route of 6 yards for the touchdown. A problematic snap on the PAT resulted in a failed run attempt and it was 15-0.
Just before halftime, Kennebunk drove to the 2 after Emmons carried 27 yards on an option keeper in an obvious passing situation, but Marshwood stuffed three consecutive running attempts to force a field-goal attempt. Lary made it with five seconds to spare.
“It was an exciting game,” Rafferty said. “It was everything we all thought it would be. Both teams played extremely tough.”
Glenn Jordan can be contacted at 791-6425 or at: