On the stat sheet, Friday night’s Class B North semifinal was an off night for the Brunswick High School football team.

The Dragons committed 10 penalties for over 100 yards, turned the ball over three times and allowed a kickoff return for a touchdown.

Yet, the final score said something completely different.

Brunswick ran right through visiting Messalonskee, 44-7, and advanced to its fourth straight regional final.

“I think we just lost focus for a little bit there,” Brunswick quarterback Christian Jensen said. “But we got back, rallied and kept getting after it.”

“I just think we were up big when the penalties started flying,” Brunswick coach Dan Cooper said. “We tried to force the ball through the air a little bit — uncharacteristic of what we do. But I’m not too worried about it.”

Almost all of No. 1 Brunswick’s (9-0) penalties were on offense, but none amounted to any real danger. Up 24-0 in the second half, the offense committed three penalties over just four plays and found themselves in a second down and 30 spot. After a run from Hunter Garrett and the third penalty, it was third down and 30. Jensen stepped back on the next play, wildly avoided pressure and eventually broke free on the outside to pick up the unlikely first down.

On another drive earlier in the first half, two long penalties were erased when Jensen found Ben Palizay in the back of the end zone for a touchdown.

Much to No. 5 Messalonskee’s (5-5) chagrin, the penalties hardly slowed the Dragons down.

“We just have some great blocking up front and even if we’re down by 40 yards to the first down, we all believe that we can pick it up,” Jensen said.

“They believe and we’ve got team speed, which can bail us out of any situation.” Cooper said.

Like its done so many times this season, Brunswick got on the board on the opening drive of the game and put the Eagles in an early hole. Three straight runs were stuffed and led to the punt team coming onto the field, but Cooper had something else in mind. Garrett took a direct snap and sprinted 15 yards to pick up a first down.

Six plays later, Jensen capped off the drive with a 1- yard quarterback sneak to make the score 6-0.

“It’s really important for us to get the points on the board first,” Garrett said. “We got stuffed up, we didn’t really know what to do, and that fake punt really helped.”

“It was really important, because we didn’t play that well offensively,” Cooper said of the opening drive. “That had a little bit more to do with how they (Messalonskee) were playing, but certainly if we didn’t get that first one on the board, it could have been a much different game.”

Brunswick, which didn’t line up to punt again in the game, took control from there, scoring two more touchdowns and taking an 18-0 lead into the break.

Garrett led the way, rushing 16 times for 161 yards and three touchdowns on the night. Palizay, who returned a punt back for a touchdown in the first quarter, notched 48 yards on six carries, while Jensen tallied 30 yards and two touchdowns (one pass, one run).

Rest and rust

After going undefeated and earning the No. 1 seed in Class B North, the Dragons flew right into the semifinal and had almost two weeks off following a season finale win over Nokomis.

On one hand, it gave the players some much-needed rest heading into the postseason, but on the other, offensive momentum was lost — Jensen was intercepted and the offense turned the ball over on downs twice. Jensen and company also converted just one of seven 2-point conversion attempts.

“Certainly the time off didn’t help the offense any,” Cooper said. “We were a little off tonight, particularly in the first half. We’ll get back to the basics, get some more reps and be a little sharper next week.”

According to the Brunswick assistant coaches, next week will start with lots of running today. Even in a blowout win, the penalties are unacceptable and need to be cleaned up.

It won’t be a change of pace for Garrett.

“Just work hard every day,” he said of the upcoming practices. “We play one play at a time. That’s how we play football.”

The time off seemed to help the Dragons’ defense, however, as Messalonskee was held to zero offensive points and never came close to the red zone. Austin Pelletier led the Eagles with 14 carries on the ground, but mustered just 27 yards. Quarterback Dekian Thurston was held to just one completion, was sacked twice and lost a fumble.

Messalonskee’s lone score of the game came on a kickoff return from Colby Dexter, who also intercepted Jensen in the second half.

Senior Jesse Devereaux picked up a pair of touchdowns on 75 all-purpose yards for Brunswick, while junior Dalton Dickey broke free on a 43-yard run in the final minute of the game.

With the win, the Dragons are now one game away from another shot at a state title. They’ll host Brewer in the Class B North regional final on Friday at 7 p.m.

“As a senior, it’s kind of sad,” Garrett said. “It’s my last season, but as a team, it feels great. We’re working hard every day in practice and our goal is to get that gold ball.”

No. 1 Brunswick 44,
No. 5 Messalonskee 7

Class B North Football Semifinal
Friday at Brunswick High School
Messalonskee—0 0 7 0 — 7
Brunswick — 12 6 18 8 — 44
B— Christian Jensen 1 run (run failed), 6:42.
B — Ben Palizay 52 punt return (run failed),
Second quarter
B — Ben Palizay 9 pass from Christian Jensen
(run failed), 2:57.
Third quarter
B— Hunter Garrett 38 run (pass failed),8:36
B— Hunter Garrett 1 run (run failed), 2:00.
M — Colby Dexter 70 kickoff return (Kyle Burger Roykick), 1:41.
B— Jesse Devereaux 11 run (run failed), :25.6
B — Hunter Garrett 20 run (Garrett Compton
Records — Brunswick 9-0, Messalonskee 5-5.
Up next for the Dragons — Class B North
regional final at home against Brewer
on Friday, 7 p.m.

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