CAPE ELIZABETH – When the flag dropped for a roughing the kicker penalty against Yarmouth, the Clippers must have had flashbacks.
Mistakes on punts had cost them second-half leads against Leavitt and Wells, leading to their only two losses.
On Friday night, however, Cape Elizabeth’s third-quarter drive for a tying touchdown fizzled in the red zone and Yarmouth went on to a 27-7 victory in a Western Class C football game.
“That’s typically what happens to us in the second half in the big games,” said Yarmouth Coach Chris Pingitore. “We make a mistake like that, lose field position and it’s hard to defend a short field.
“But the guys did it, and they did it in a big way.”
Yarmouth (4-2) held Cape Elizabeth (3-3) scoreless in the second half.
Both schools came into the game with identical records, and only a few points separated them in the Crabtree standings.
Each had beaten a school higher in the standings — Yarmouth over Spruce Mountain and Cape Elizabeth over Wells — to whom Friday night’s opponent had lost earlier this season.
So it wasn’t surprising that until the final minute of the first half, the game was dead even.
“We just had to prove to ourselves — and everyone else — that we can come out here and play with the best in a close game,” said Yarmouth senior running back Matt Klepinger.
Yarmouth had driven 71 yards on its opening drive, with Klepinger carrying the final 19 on a toss sweep. Cape Elizabeth answered with a 74-yard drive capped by Jack Drinan scoring from the 5.
At 7-7, defenses took over. Neither team could manage a first down on its next two possessions, with Cape Elizabeth wasting a 41-yard punt return by Drinan that brought the ball to the Yarmouth 21. The Capers got no closer.
A halftime tie appeared likely when Yarmouth allowed a Nick Moulton punt to roll dead at its own 11 with 1:15 left. Without putting the ball in the air, the Clippers marched 89 yards in four plays for a touchdown.
“I don’t think we had the intention of scoring on that drive,” Klepinger said. “But that’s just what happened.”
Matt Woodbury gained 10 yards off tackle. Klepinger swept left for 28 more and the Clippers called timeout. Woodbury swept right for 26 yards, and a tackle out of bounds tacked on 13 more (half the distance to the goal), with 46 seconds left.
The penalty was one of 10 on Cape Elizabeth, resulting in 83 yards. Yarmouth was penalized twice for 25 yards.
“That’s a big difference-maker,” said Cape Elizabeth Coach Aaron Filieo.
Once more eschewing the pass, Yarmouth ran wide again, this time with Klepinger sweeping left for the touchdown. Andrew Beatty’s kick made it 14-7 at the half.
After a scoreless third quarter, the Clippers put the game away in the fourth. Cody Cook ran four yards for one touchdown. Following a Cook interception, Tom Lord plunged in from the 1 to end the scoring.
“We’re pretty tough inside on defense, but we were obviously concerned about their speed on the edge,” Filieo said. “A couple times they got outside and it’s tough to tackle them in space.”
Woodbury finished with 132 yards on 13 carries.
“Woody’s really turned a corner this year,” Pingitore said. “His speed has been so much improved, and he’s learned to read his blocks and he’s learned to see holes and make a quick cut.”
As for Klepinger, who gained 94 yards on 12 carries, Pingitore said, “he’s tall and thin but he’s a powerful runner and very shifty.”
For the Capers, Christian Lavallee ran 16 times for 78 yards.
“I thought we did a nice job up front and the backs ran hard, but we shot ourselves in the foot too many times,” Filieo said.
Glenn Jordan can be contacted at 791-6425 or at: