MILLINOCKET – Unbeaten Stearns rode its defense to a 20-7 victory against John Bapst and its first Eastern Class C championship in 12 years Saturday.

The Minutemen (11-0) will play Yarmouth (11-0) for the state title next Saturday at Fitzpatrick Stadium.

“Our defense was outstanding,” Stearns Coach Chris Preble said. “John Bapst threw the ball very well this year, and our linebackers and defensive backs really played their roles today and shut down their passing game for the most part.”

While stopping two lengthy drives by the Crusaders, Stearns recorded seven sacks, recovered a fumble and intercepted one pass.

The Minutemen took the lead early in the second quarter when fullback Charley Tapley plunged in from the 1 to cap a five-play, 57-yard drive following a punt. Quarterback Jared McGreevy set up the score when he scrambled 43 yards on a third-down play.

Later in the second quarter, John Bapst (8-3) made it 7-7 when Jake Leonard scored on a 4-yard run to cap a six-play, 59-yard drive following a punt.

Stearns took a 14-7 lead on its second possession of the second half when Ryan Hibbs went in from the 1. Tapley kept the six-play, 42-yard drive alive when he ran 21 yards to the 4 on a third-down play.

Hibbs scored on a 3-yard run with 1:46 left, two plays after the Minutemen took over on downs at the 9.

Billy Eurick, who has rushed for more than 1,300 yards, ran for 76 yards on 11 carries for Stearns. John Bapst quarterback Jordan Charpentier hit 11 of 31 passes for 115 yards.