BRUNSWICK HIGH SCHOOL running back Alex Bandouveres (40) follows the blocking of guard Nick Dodson against Skowhegan on Friday night.

BRUNSWICK HIGH SCHOOL running back Alex Bandouveres (40) follows the blocking of guard Nick Dodson against Skowhegan on Friday night.


Brunswick High School backup running back Will Bessey could only watch from the sidelines.

Starters Lucas McCue and Alex Bandouveres were carving up the Skowhegan defense behind the offensive line of Nick Dodson, Jacob Duffy, Logan Ouellette, Adam Casey and Josh Thibeault, along with tight end Cody Buchheit, to the tune of 238 rushing yards in the opening half.

However, with his Dragons clinging to a 21-20 lead at the break, Bessey received the news head coach Dan Cooper that Bandouveres, the Dragons’ starting fullback, was injured and that the sophomore was in.

The straight-ahead rushing Bessey certainly made the most of his chance, chalking up a whopping 176 yards and three touchdowns in the second half as the Dragons wore down the Indians to the tune of a 47-26 victory on a perfect Friday night for football in front of a packed house.

Bessey’s contributions, along with 122 yards and three scores by McCue, were too much for Skowhegan, which dropped to 2-2, while Brunswick improved to 4-0 and visits defending Class B state champion Mt. Blue this upcoming Friday.

“My line really blocked well for me, and I just found the holes and ran through them,” said Bessey, who also had a team-high nine tackles and helped the Dragons rush for 454 yards on 51 carries. “We run north and south behind a really good offensive line. I feel great about this, and it is kind of cool to be a sophomore and get some carries”

“We knew that Bessey was that kind of special player, and have prepared him over the past few weeks for this,” said Brunswick coach Dan Cooper.

After a first half which saw Skowhegan quarterback Adam Clukey carve up the Dragons for 169 yards (16 of 22) in the air, the Brunswick defense held the Indians to just six second-half points with Clukey completing just seven of 17 heaves for 57 yards and an interception.

Josh Mays a key

The key for Brunswick was the insertion of nose guard Josh Mays, who routinely tied up two and even three Skowhegan offensive lineman, allowing Dragon linebackers Duffy, McCue (interception) and Dodson to undercut the short passes that caused Brunswick headaches in a closely-played first half.

“We talked about trying to get them to shift to where I go, and that allowed the linebackers to run straight through and get their hands on some passes in the second half,” said Mays.

Sloppy Dragons

After forcing a punt on Skowhegan’s first possession, Brunswick began its opening drive at its own 7-yard line with a fumbled snap, one of five fumbles for the Dragons in the opening half. Fortunately for the hosts, Brunswick recovered all five of those miscues.

“If we don’t get those fumbles back, we are down at half by one or two scores,” said Cooper, whose squad was also flagged 10 times for 90 penalty yards.

Facing a fourth-and-inches at the B-16 on that opening drive, Cooper decided to take a chance and go for it, with Brady Larson’s (seven rushes, 60 yards, TD) quarterback sneak producing 45 yards. Two plays later, McCue capped the 93-yard drive with a 38- yard TD run, with Casey tacking on the extra point for a 7-0 lead.

Skowhegan struck right back, going 71 yards in seven plays, with running back Kaleb Brown (18 rushes, 100 yards, two TDs) scoring on a 2-yard run, with Ben Salley rushing in the 2-point conversion for an 8-7 Skowhegan lead.

Brunswick again avoided a big mistake, recovering two fumbles during a 14-play, 4:34 drive, with McCue going in on a 4-yard TD run for a 14-8 lead after the first quarter.

Clukey continued to hurt the Brunswick defense with short passes, with DJ Allen’s 3- yard TD reception tying the game, 14-14, with 6:10 remaining until halftime.

“It was a game-and-a-half that we didn’t have a whole lot of stops, and the kids did hang their heads,” said Cooper, who watched Clukey hook up with Owen Mercier for a 5- yard score to bring the Indians to 21-20 at the half.

To make matters worse, Bandouveres was helped off the field after an apparent lower leg injury on Skowhegan’s third touchdown drive.

After forcing a three-and-out on Skowhegan’s opening drive of the second half, Bessey broke off his first big run for a 34- yard TD and a 28-20 Brunswick lead.

After forcing a Brunswick punt later in the third quarter, Skowhegan scored its fourth and final touchdown to open the final frame as Brown swept right for a score. The Indians failed again on a 2-point try to keep the Dragons in the lead, and three consecutive fourth-quarter drives for the hosts resulted in scores — a 49-yard run by Bessey, an 8-yard scamper for McCue and a 7-run score by Bessey — to close out the 47-26 win.

After visiting Mt. Blue, the Dragons host rival Messalonskee (2-2), visit Lawrence (2-2) and play host to Kennebunk (4-0), which downed previously unbeaten Marshwood 21- 14 on Friday. Cooper feels his team is ready for the challenges ahead.

“Our kids are pretty poised and are determined to make a good run here, and we have played a tough schedule already, a tough preseason, and we were able to gut this one out,” said Cooper. “If we hadn’t faced tough competition in the past, this might have been one that we hung our heads and lost. The poise and character really shined today.”

Clukey finished 23-of-39 in the air for 226 yards, with Mercier (eight catches, 53 yards, TD), Salley (6-82) and Allen (6-68, TD) his main targets. Skowhegan had 20 first downs.

Nathan Morris paced the Skowhegan defense with nine tackles.

Bandouveres had 90 yards rushing in the opening half, with Duffy (seven tackles) and Taran Payne (five tackles, three passes defended) pacing the Brunswick defense.

Brunswick 47, Skowhegan 26

At Brunswick High School
First quarter
B — Lucas McCue 38 run (Adam Casey kick), 7:51.
S — Kaleb Brown 2 run (Ben Salley run), 5:41.
B — Lucas McCue 4 run (Adam Casey kick), 1:07.
Second quarter
S — DJ Allen 3 pass from Adam Clukey (pass failed),
B — Brady Larson 1 run (Adam Casey kick), 1:54.
S — Owen Mercier 5 pass from Adam Clukey (run
failed), :23.
Third quarter
B — Will Bessey 34 run (Adam Casey kick), 7:00.
Fourth quarter
S — Kaleb Brown 14 run (pass failed), 11:53.
B — Will Bessey 49 run (Adam Casey kick), 9:54.
B — Lucas McCue 8 run (pass failed), 6:25.
B — Will Bessey 7 run (kick failed), 3:08.
Records — Brunswick 4-0, Skowhegan 2-2.
Up next for Brunswick — Friday at Mt. Blue, 7 p.m.

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