Tuesday, December 10, 2013
By GARY HAWKINS Kennebec Journal
READFIELD - In his post-game speech Friday night, Maranacook senior captain Jesse Evans praised his teammates for the way they staved off a late charge from two-time defending Class C state champion Yarmouth.
Evans was a major factor himself, rushing for three touchdowns and 99 yards in leading the Black Bears to a 22-21 win. He also intercepted a pass to help Maranacook (3-0) stay unbeaten.
The Black Bears led 22-7 entering the fourth quarter, but the momentum changed on one play as Matthew Klepinger scored on a double handoff from 66 yards out. A 2-point conversion made it 22-15.
The Clippers (1-2) pounded in another score with 3:18 left but missed the 2-point conversion.
"I think we kind of fell apart," Evans said. "The guys were getting tired. I told them in the huddle 'guys, just dig deep', and everybody did their job."
The Clippers are not the same team that won back-to-back state titles, but quarterback Brady Neujahr is in his third year as a starter and they have several quick backs.
"They're young but they're improving every game," Maranacook Coach Joe Emery said. "I hope we don't have to play them if they make the playoffs."
The first half belonged to the Black Bears, thanks to the running of Evans and two big plays.
Zach Bessette turned in the first one after Maranacook quarterback Caleb Castonguay's pass was intercepted by Neujahr. Bessette's hard tackle forced a fumble, and he recovered it himself.
"We're all coming together as a team," Bessette said. "We've been playing together for awhile."
Evans capped the short drive with a 3-yard run, and Castonguay rushed the conversion to make it 8-0.
Later in the quarter, junior Logan Emery intercepted Neujahr's pass at midfield and returned it to the Yarmouth 8. Evans broke some tackles in the backfield and scored on the next play.
Another key play, this one a fumble recovery at the Yarmouth 16 by senior lineman Jalen Thompson, set up Maranacook's third touchdown. Again Evans ran through a couple tackles after it looked as if he'd be thrown for a loss, and scored on the ensuing play.
"I was always taught to go 110 percent every time," said Evans. "Just because some guy has you it doesn't mean you're stopped."
The Clippers cut the lead to 22-21 on a 13-yard run by Matt Woodbury, but Klepinger was stuffed by a host of tacklers as he tried to sweep wide for the conversion.
Woodbury rushed for 98 yards, Klepinger had 86 on the ground, and Thomas Lord finished with 78.