ORONO — The Maine Central Institute football players lingered on the Alfond Stadium turf long after the final whistle had blown, long after the Gold Ball had been presented, as if they didn’t want to leave.

And why would they?

The Huskies, seeded sixth in their region, overpowered Cape Elizabeth 30-13 to win the Class C state championship Friday night.

Using a powerful running game, MCI took control from the first play and never relinquished it to win its second consecutive state championship.

MCI won Class D a year ago, and this is the school’s fourth title overall. Cape Elizabeth (9-3) was in its second state title game, losing to Leavitt in 2009.

“This means the world,” said Adam Bertrand, a senior running back for MCI and son of Coach Tom Bertrand. “We all knew we could do it. We didn’t want to come in as a sixth seed but that’s what we were given, so we rolled with it and we weren’t going to let anybody get in our way. We really committed to winning.”

“We knew we were the underdog and we appreciated that role,” said Tom Bertrand. “We embraced it.”

Bertrand ran for 164 yards and two touchdowns – on runs of 52 and 1 yards – and Pedro Matos rushed for 163 yards and one touchdown – a 93-yarder in the third quarter. The Huskies ran for 388 yards.

“They didn’t do anything we didn’t expect, we just couldn’t stop their counter and obviously their power,” said Cape Elizabeth Coach Aaron Filieo. “And I didn’t think we tackled particularly well tonight, which was uncharacteristic.”

MCI (8-4) went 78 yards in five plays on its first possession, which ended with Bertrand’s 52-yard run.

“We had to jump on them,” said Adam Bertrand. “We had to start big, play big and continue, not stopping.”

It was 21-13 MCI at the end of a very entertaining first half that featured a lot of hard running by both teams, some nice touch passing by Andrew Hartel of Cape Elizabeth, who threw scoring passes of 16 yards to Jacob Brydson and 10 yards to Matt Conley, and a bit of trickery by the Huskies.

The trickery came at the end of the half, with MCI facing fourth-and-goal from the 3. After lining up for a field goal, the Huskies decided to go for it after Cape called a timeout.

MCI came out in an unorthodox formation, with seven players to the left and four, including quarterback Ryan Friend, in the middle of the field. Friend took the snap and found a wide-open Andrew Whitaker, who had lined up next to the center, for a touchdown with 25 seconds left in the half for a 21-13 lead.

Midway through the third quarter, Cape Elizabeth put together a nice drive behind the power running of Ryan Weare (24 carries, 84 yards) to move to a first down at the MCI 23. Three carries by Weare led to fourth-and-1 at the 14. Weare was then stuffed for no gain and the Huskies took over.

“We just didn’t get to the point of attack on that fourth down,” said Filieo.

Three plays later, on third-and-17 from the MCI 7, Matos took a counter to the right and suddenly cut upfield. He had one player to beat at the 20, did it, then sprinted down the right sideline for a 93-yard touchdown. Devon Varney’s fourth PAT kick made it 28-13.

“That was a backbreaker,” said Filieo.

The Capers, who defeated MCI 35-15 at home on Sept. 22, were never able to get the big offensive play or big defensive stop they needed. And the Huskies did.

“I don’t know if they did a lot differently,” said Luc Houle, a senior lineman and captain for Cape Elizabeth. “I just don’t think we were quite locked in on our execution. The heart was there, but it was just some of the little things we missed on. It was more on us as a collective.”

Mike Lowe can be contacted at 791-6422 or:

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Twitter: MikeLowePPH

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