CAPE ELIZABETH — Second-seeded Cape Elizabeth forced five second-half turnovers Friday night and allowed only 99 yards overall, winning the Class C South championship with a 35-13 victory against fourth-ranked Gardiner at a windy, cold Hannaford Field.

The victory put the Capers (9-2) in the state final for the second time. They will seek their first Gold Ball next Friday night at the University of Maine against the winner of Saturday’s North regional final between MCI and Mt. Desert Island.

“We hang our hat on our defense and are proud of … the way it works,” Cape Coach Aaron Filieo said. “We wanted to keep their offense off the field so they didn’t get any rhythm.”

Cape quarterback Andrew Hartel, who doesn’t play defense, said the proud group wasn’t happy allowing any points when it came in allowing 8.5 per game.

“Five turnovers, that was crazy,” he said. “Our defense, after (Gardiner) scored, they got (angry).”

The Tigers (5-6) scored on their first drive of the second half – a 4-yard run by Colin Foye that was set up by a 65-yard kickoff return by Blaise Tripp. But all that reduce Cape Elizabeth’s lead to 21-7.

But then came the turnovers. Luc Houle, Matt Conley, Garrett Mello and Nate Labrie had fumble recoveries for Cape, and Matt Laughlin intercepted backup quarterback Sean Michaud.

“No excuses at all. We weren’t ready to go,” Gardiner Coach Joe White said. “Their defense was solid and hats off to them. They played lights out, 100 percent, for four quarters.

“We didn’t get going until the second half and (five) turnovers isn’t going to do it when you’re trying to (come back).”

Cape got three touchdowns and 169 yards from Ryan Weare, and Hartel tossed two scoring passes and converted a fake PAT for a 2-point conversion pass.

Gardiner won the opening toss but deferred to get the ball to start the second half. That meant Cape had the 20 mph wind at its back for the first quarter and took advantage with two scores.

Cape Elizabeth got great field position at the Gardiner 42 to open the game and took 3:27 to score. Weare carried the ball on seven of the eight plays, capping the drive with a 7-yard run on a left sweep.

After the defense forced a three-and-out Cape got the ball at its 31. It needed five plays to cover the 69 yards. On a third-and-10, Hartel (3 of 5, 50 yards) found Laughlin in the middle of the end zone for a 31-yard score. Alex Morin’s first of three PATs made it 13-0 with 4:39 left in the first quarter.

The Capers made it 3 of 3 by scoring again on its third drive, a 12-play, 64-yard march. Hartel found Jacob Brydson for 8 yards on a third-and 5 play from their 45, and an encroachment call on the Tigers kept the drive alive before Weare scored from 2 yards with 8:16 left in the second quarter for a 21-0 advantage.

“He’s tough as nails, that kid, and you better be ready to play when (Weare) straps it up,” White said. “The Weare kid put them on his shoulders and did like a captain should. He’s an outstanding football player.”

Weare’s third score, from the 2, made the score 28-7 in the third quarter. Hartel found Conley from 11 yards in the fourth.

UPDATE: This file was updated on Nov. 11 at 9:50 a.m. to correct Cape Elizabeth’s opponent in the Class C state championship game.