Mt. Ararat defensive back Nolan Blessington, left, covers Marancook receiver Joey Dupont on an incomplete pass during a game on Friday at the Ricky Gibson Field of Dreams in Readfield. (Joe Phelan / Kennebec Journal)

READFIELD — Garit Laliberte saved his best performance for the biggest game in the seven-week history of eight-man football in Maine. 

Laliberte accounted for five touchdowns — three rushing, one passing and another one receiving — to lead the Maranacook High School football team to a 34-24 victory over Mt. Ararat in a much-anticipated game before a packed house at Ricky Gibson Field of Dreams. 

The Black Bears (7-0) dropped the Eagles (5-2) for a second time this season. Maranacook beat Mt. Ararat, 38-18, back on Sept. 14. 

Laliberte, a senior, ran for 183 yards, and completed 4-of-7 passes for 91 yards. But it was his play as a receiver on a 60-yard reception early in the third quarter off a pass back play that may have been his most impressive. 

After flipping the ball to wide receiver Joey Dupont, Laliberte sprinted downfield. Dupont hit Laliberte in stride, and Laliberte was off to the races for the score. The play gave the Black Bears their first lead of the game, 14-12. 

“Once I caught the ball, I didn’t see anybody in front of me,” Laliberte said. “I lost (it) in the light for a millisecond, too. It was just one of those plays where, if we need a morale boost, we pull it out.” 

“We’ve had that in the playbook the entire year,” Maranacook head coach Jordan Demillo said. “(Dupont) can throw it, and we’ve always had (the play). We kind of waited for a moment like that, where the defense was really kind of cheating our strong side, we were like this play is going to be perfect.’” 

The Eagles continued to fight back. Cody Holman caught a pass from quarterback Cam Wallace for a 21-yard touchdown on the

Mt. Ararat running back Cody Holman looks for yardage during a game on Friday against Maranacook. (Joe Phelan / Kennebec Journal)

next possession for a 20-18 lead. After Laliberte scored a 7-yard touchdown on the next drive, Holman returned the ensuing kickoff 70 yards for a score and a 24-20 lead. 

“We knew they had a strong runner (in Holman),” Laliberte said. “We just had to hit low and wrap up (on defense). They scored early on us in the beginning, so we just needed to open up our offense, too.” 

Holman led the Eagles on the ground, rushing for 131 yards on 13 carries. 

Some controversy arose on the following possession. Laliberte connected with Dupont on a 29-yard pass play, but as he was going to the ground, Dupont dropped and quickly recovered the ball. The Mt. Ararat sideline argued the play was an incomplete pass, but officials recognized the play as a reception and a recovered fumble. Eagles head coach Frank True continued to argue the call and was penalized for two unsportsmanlike penalties, resulting in his ejection. 

The penalties gave Maranacook a first-and-goal situation inside the 10-yard line. Two plays later, Laliberte scored on a 1-yard plunge for a 26-24 lead. 

Laliberte sealed the victory on the next possession, darting up the sideline on a quarterback keeper for a 78-yard touchdown and final 34-24 score with just over three minutes left in the game. 

“I’m really impressed with our guys,” Demillo said. “To be able to come back after being down, backs-against-the-wall type stuff, they’ve (fought) all season, and I think they’ll continue to do it.” 

Clayton House added additional support in the run game for Maranacook, rushing for 68 yards on 15 carries. 

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