BIDDEFORD – It would be understandable if the players at Saturday’s Lobster Bowl were a little rusty. After all, it’s been more than eight months since they strapped on the pads, and they had only a week of practices at Hebron Academy to come together as a team.

But if their timing was off at all, it didn’t show, at least on the offensive end. The teams rolled up a combined 72 points and 975 yards to give the fans at Waterhouse Field in Biddeford a show.

And while the East came out fast, taking a 16-6 lead to start the game, the West quickly responded, scoring 26 straight points on the way to a 48-24 win.

The game turned on a series of possessions just after Jeff Turcotte of the East pounded in a 1-yard run for his team’s second touchdown of the day.

Spencer Cooke of Cheverus, the West’s MVP, gave his team the spark they needed on the ensuing kickoff with a 57-yard return to the East 44-yard line. The West took advantage of the field position as Cheverus’ Cam Olson rushed twice for 39 yards, setting the West up inside the red zone. Scarborough’s Scott Thibeault finished off the drive, scoring on a 4-yard touchdown run up the middle.

“There was a soft spot in the defense and I just kept pushing,” Thibeault said. “Fortunately, it worked out well.”

Thibeault, who will be attending Assumption College next year to play alongside West teammate Andrew Lavallee of Cape Elizabeth, couldn’t have asked for a better send off.

“Everyone talks about the Lobster Bowl and what a great tradition it is,” Thibeault said of the game that benefits Shriners Hospitals for Children. “It’s a great honor to play with the best. We as players play because we love it but the fact that it’s for a special cause makes it that much better.”

The West pulled to within two, 18-16, after Olson snuck in for the two-point conversion with 11:38 left in the first half.

The West then shifted the momentum completely in their favor as South Portland’s Logan Gaddar – who also returned and covered punts – recorded two tackles and recovered a Turcotte fumble on the East’s next possession.

The West moved the ball 61 yards on three plays following Gaddar’s fumble recovery. Cooke started the possession by taking a hand off in the backfield before firing down field to Bonny Eagle’s Matt Burnell for a 30-yard gain.

Cooke picked up four more yards on the ground before Wells quarterback Paul McDonough found Marshwood’s Troy Pappas. Pappas caught a slant pass before hitting a gap through the middle and racing for a 25-yard touchdown, giving the West their first lead of the game, 20-16, after a failed two-point conversion with eight minutes remaining in the second quarter.

The West’s defense appeared energized after retaking the field with the lead. With less than five minutes to play in the quarter, Westbrook’s Terry Webber forced the East into 4-yard loss before Lavallee added his second sack of the game on the following play, forcing the East to punt.

After two short carries by Massabesic’s Sam Chaves, McDonough connected with Burnell for a 51-yard touchdown with 2:33 left to play in the half.

“It was funny on that one,” said Burnell, “(McDonough) and I, we saw a weakness in the side of the defense. They kept on cheating on the side of the trips. I gave him a head nod and he gave me a head nod and it was just an easy touchdown.”

The West again failed to convert the two-point conversion as they took a 10-point lead, 26-16.

The West then forced a three and out by the East to give them one last possession before the half. But Olson, after trying the two previous plays to hit Falmouth’s Jack Cooleen in the end zone, threw an interception on fourth down.

The East advanced the ball to their own 44-yard line with 9.6 seconds left after Turcotte rushed twice for 36 yards. Thornton Academy’s Luke Libby who was honored as the John R, Schmidlin Trophy recipient at halftime, for good citizenship, team play, loyalty and reliability squelched any notion of a pre-halftime miracle for the East as he got into the backfield for a sack and fumble recovery with less than a second remaining.

Despite forcing a three and out by the West to start the second half, turnovers again plagued the East.

Gaddar recovered his second fumble of the game after a muffed punt. Two possessions later, the West was back in the end zone as another Bonny Eagle Scot got in on the action.

Wide receiver Cameron Cooper caught two passes from Olson for 51 yards and a touchdown while sporting a cast on his right hand to put the West up 32-16 with 12:34 remaining in the third quarter.

“For both of us to get a touchdown in the same game is pretty special,” said Burnell. “We grew up playing middle school and high school football together.”

With the East driving on their next possession, Lavallee again came up huge on defense, as he and fellow lineman Curtis LaBelle, of Bonny Eagle, combined for a sack, resulting in an 8-yard loss on third down. The East would fail to convert on fourth down.

The East managed to score before the end of the third when Brewer’s Anthony Jackson scampered in for a 9-yard touchdown run with 17.1 seconds remaining in the third.

Any hope of an East comeback was virtually eliminated after the West countered with a touchdown of their own on their next possession. McDonough went 3 for 4 for 52 yards through the air, including a 24-yard pass to Sanford’s Jon Schroder that placed the West on the East’s goal line. McDonough snuck in for a touchdown and the West converted the two-point try to make it 40-24 with 12:02 remaining.

Gaddar would add another interception his third forced turnover of the game with under seven minutes to play in the game.

The West put an exclamation point on their victory as Cooke completed a 36-yard touchdown run with 3:22 left on his way to collecting MVP honors. The West punched in another two-point conversion, making it 48-24 to cap the game’s scoring.

The 72 combined points was the third-highest total in Lobster Bowl history. It is the second straight season the West has captured the title. The West now holds a commanding 17-6 lead in the series.

Win aside, West coach Joel Stoneton of Winthrop left his team with one message following the game.

“You guys are all class acts,” he told his players. “Just make sure this doesn’t end here. Stay in touch with each other.”

Scott Thibeault of Scarborough High School 

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