BRUNSWICK — Messalonskee turned it up a notch in the second half Friday night to roll to a 23-0 victory against Brunswick in a season-opening Class B North football game.

The Eagles scored their three touchdowns in the second half to break open what had been a defensive struggle.

“They were physical up front,” Brunswick Coach Dan Cooper said. “We just weren’t good enough to keep getting first downs. We made a mistake here and there. We just weren’t consistent enough.”

The Dragons beat the Eagles twice last season on their way to winning the state championship, but lost 22 players to graduation and are rebuilding.

Messalonskee also is rebuilding.

“We have a rag-tag outfit,” Messalonskee Coach Brad Bishop said. “We don’t have a lot of kids with varsity experience. We have a whole new offensive line (and) new backs except for one kid.”

That one back is Austin Pelletier, who ran for 195 yards on 27 carries.

“Our kids battled hard,” Cooper said. “We stuffed them inside but their backs were able to get to the outside. They were very quick outside and in space. Their running backs were the difference.”

Colton Chavarie was nearly as effective as Pelletier, rushing for 94 yards on 10 carries.

The Eagles held a 3-0 halftime lead when Kyle Burger-Roy kicked a 35-yard field goal with 43 seconds left in the first quarter.

Brunswick’s best chance came midway through the second quarter, but the Messalonskee defense kept quarterback Nate Girardin from sneaking 1 yard for a first down on a fourth-down play.

“We had our chances (to score) in the first half, certainly,” Cooper said. “It was just poor execution and they made some good plays when they needed to.”

The Dragons, who have won three consecutive regional championships, attempted to tie the score on the final play of the first half but Aiden Glover’s 45-yard field-goal attempt fell short.

With less than five minutes left in the third quarter, Messalonskee moved into a 9-0 lead when Chavarie ran 40 yards on a sweep to the right four plays following a Brunswick punt.

Less than a minute into the fourth quarter, six plays after Nate Perkins recovered a Brunswick fumble at the Brunswick 35, quarterback Deklan Thurston went 4 yards up the middle for a touchdown.

With less than a minute left in the game, Thurston went 12 yards up the middle to complete a 12-play, 70-yard drive after the Eagles took the ball over on downs.

“(My players) made a believer out of me for one night,” Bishop said. “They’re tough kids. They play hard.”

Messalonskee limited the Dragons to three first downs and 68 yards in the second half while churning out 228 yards on the ground.

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