TOPSHAM — Both Maranacook and Mt. Ararat were victorious last week with the introduction to eight-man football in Maine, making Saturday’s clash at the Topsham Fairgrounds an intriguing matchup. 

Mt. Ararat’s Holden Brannan slips past the Maranacook defenders on his way to an 83-yard kickoff return for a touchdown to begin the game. Maranacook won the game, 38-18. (Eric Maxim / The Times Record)

The Black Bears put up 38 points, led by senior quarterback Garit Laliberte’s 366 total yards to improve to 2-0 with a 38-18 victory over Mt. Ararat. 

Last week we had a lot of unnecessary flags,” Maranacook coach Jordan DeMillo said. “We had some big plays last week, but it always seemed like we had an illegal formation going on. Today was a different story and our team executed, it was a good win. 

Laliberte was 9-for-19 with 223 yards passing and rushed for 143 yards on the ground on 20 carries. The senior threw for four touchdowns, while running in a pair. 

The kid has great vision, if he doesn’t have something downfield, he knows he has to tuck and go,” DeMillo saidHe’s one of the best athletes on the field. 

Although the scoreboard showed a 20-point loss, the game was closer than score indicated. 

For the most part we handled their size up front,” Mt. Ararat coach Frank True said of his defensive lineWe did a good job at the line, just when their quarterback was flushed out, he was able to gain yardage.” 

Mt. Ararat took an early lead, early as in returning the opening kickoff for a touchdown. After initially fumbling the kick, Holden Brannan picked up the ball and found some holes, sprinting to the endzone for an 83-yard touchdown. The pass completion was short on the two-point conversion and the Eagles held an early 6-0 lead. 

I know we always have an opportunity to score on those types of plays because of speed and blocking,” Brannan saidI was feeling confident in myself that I could have some good returns today. 

Brannan accumulated over 145 return yards on the day. 

Following the Eagles score, Maranacook answered on its second play from scrimmage when Laliberte struck gold with a 65-yard touchdown strike to Joey Dupont. The conversion failed and the game was tied. 

Each team stalled on their next couple of drives, with each team getting key plays on special teams and defense. Dupont blocked an Eagles punt during the quarter and the Mt. Ararat defense stopped Maranacook on four plays capped off by a Baxter Williams sack for the home team. 

Maranacook’s Garit Laliberte throws the ball before Mt. Ararat’s Daniel Jackson could reach him during the second quarter of Saturday’s high school football game at the Topsham Fairgrounds. The pass was a 65-yard touchdown pass to Isac Philbrook. The Black Bears rolled to a 38-18 victory. (Eric Maxim / The Times Record)

With the ball at midfield, Mt. Ararat’s Brannan gained 21 yards, set up by a key Daniel Jackson block to push the Eagles deep into Maranacook territory to end the opening frame. Six plays later, Riley Morin scampered into the endzone for a 14-yard score putting the Eagles back ahead, 12-6. 

It didn’t take long for Maranacook to tie the score as Laliberte connected with Isac Philbrook on a 56-yard passing touchdown with eight minutes remaining in the half. 

They had a lot of deep passes, we knew we were going to be vulnerable today because we run a lot of man coverages,” True saidThey had some tall receivers and that hurt us today.” 

Maranacook scored again late in the half behind Laliberte’s arm and legs. The quarterback rushed for 33 yards and threw for 28, including a 16-yard score to Dupont to cap off the first-half scoring. 

Today we became more of a two-dimensional team,” DeMillo said. “Yes, we do like to pass and why not with Garit under center.” 

Mt. Ararat was unable to score in the final two minutes to end the half. 

Despite the three touchdowns, the Eagles defense had a strong first half, limiting the Black Bears to just 50 yards on the ground. 

Offensively, Mt. Ararat rushed for 122 yards, led by Brannan’s 65 yards, followed by Morin’s 60. 

Laliberte was 4-for-10 with 149 yards and three touchdown passes in the half. 

Maranacook ate up some clock to open the third quarter, driving deep in to Eagles territory but was unable to score when stopped by the defense, including a tackle by Mt. Ararat senior Jed Rice to turn the ball over on downs. 

An Eagle punt followed and Laliberte took advantage of key blocking on the next set of downs, rushing for a total of 22 yards that included a 1-yard push at the goal line for his fourth score of the afternoon. A pitch to Philbrook on the two-point conversion gave Maranacook a 26-12 lead. 

Meanwhile, forced to the passing game trailing by 14, the Maranacook defense intercepted Mt. Ararat’s Cam Wallace two plays later to start the final quarter to get the ball back. 

We’ve been sticking to a four-man front. I have two big tackles and they require double teaming and that allows my ends to open up,” DeMillo said. 

A 12-yard pass over the Eagles defenders into the hands of Dupont gave the Black Bears another score and a 32-12 lead in the fourth quarter. 

He’s got quite a vertical and I like to put it up for him because I know he can come down with it,” Laliberte said of his tall receiver. Dupont finished with six catches for 131 yards. 

Mark Thibodeau (5) rushes for no gain before being stopped by Riley Morin (behind) and Holden Brannan (11) during Saturday’s high school football game. (Eric Maxim / The Times Record)

The Eagles showed a little life midway through the fourth. After a big return from Brannan, Wallace hit Morin for a 20-yard strike before finding Brannan for a 45-yard score, now trailing by 14, 32-18. 

An unsuccessful onside kick by the Eagles gave Maranacook good field position with six minutes remaining, but Mt. Ararat’s defense came up with a few key sops to regain possession. 

But another interception thwarted any attempt to climb back into the game. 

We struggled offensively. We gave away too many possessions because we were three and out too many times,” True said as the Eagles only had 17 offensive plays in the second half that included the two picks, a punt and a knee to end the game. 

Laliberte capped off his sensational afternoon with a 28-yard touchdown run to give the Black Bears a late 38-18 lead. 

Mt. Ararat only managed two-yards rushing in the second half, while Wallace threw for 69 yards in the final 24 minutes. 

Maranacook hosts Yarmouth on Friday night at 7 p.m. 

The Eagles host Ellsworth/Sumner next Saturday at 1 p.m. 

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