Marshwood quarterback Connor Caverly fires a pass while under pressure from Kennebunk’s Matthew Murer during the first half of the Class B South football championship game Saturday in South Berwick. Ben McCanna/Staff Photographer Buy this Photo

SOUTH BERWICK – With a dominant defense, Marshwood High is hunting for another state championship.

The top-seeded Hawks pulled away with three touchdowns in the second half to beat No. 2 Kennebunk 32-6 in the Class B South final Saturday afternoon.

Marshwood (10-1) advances to the state championship game Saturday at Fitzpatrick Stadium against North champion Brunswick (11-0). The Hawks will be going for their third straight Class B title and fifth in the last six years. Three of the championships were won against Brunswick – 2014, 2015 and last year.

Kennebunk finished at 8-3, with two losses to Marshwood and one to Class A finalist Bonny Eagle.

Marshwood tailback Cam Cornett rushed for 104 yards and a touchdown on seven carries, and his 38-yard punt return set up a touchdown. Fullback/linebacker Justin Bryant rushed 12 times for 64 yards and two touchdowns. Cullen Casey caught two touchdown passes.

In a regular-season meeting with Kennebunk last month, Marshwood cruised to 28-0 halftime lead on its way to a 48-14 rout.

On Saturday, Marshwood had a 14-6 halftime lead.

“We played the way we needed to play,” Kennebunk Coach Joe Rafferty said. “We were much more physical than the first time around.”

Marshwood is not used to close games. In its previous nine victories, the Hawks had outscored their opponents 442-57. They knew they were facing a different Rams team.

“They came out playing hard in the first half,” said Marshwood quarterback Connor Caverly, who threw for 80 yards and a touchdown. “We knew we had to pick it up and played hard, and it showed.”

While Caverly directed the offense, the defense was more than ready in the second half, snuffing out Kennebunk’s option plays. The Rams managed only 30 yards after halftime, with just 2 yards rushing.

“They are very good on defense and gave us nothing,” Rafferty said. “They really had us bottled up.”

Marshwood Coach Alex Rotsko said “we were just playing our base defense we’ve been playing all year. We’re not a team that stunts a lot. We try to play fundamentally sound against anything we get. They gave us a few different looks, but we handled it real well.”

The Hawks were stymied on their first two possessions but got going with Cornett’s speed. He sprinted through a hole for a 62-yard touchdown that gave the Hawks a 6-0 lead with 11:01 left in the first half.

“Big hole. Just hit the hole and run,” Cornett said.

Kennebunk’s Jacob Sullivan ran back the ensuing kickoff, but the apparent touchdown was called back because of a holding penalty.

The Rams’ offensive woes gave Marshwood good field position all game. Later in the second quarter, Bryant recorded a sack for a 12-yard loss. After a short punt, the Hawks began a drive at the Kennebunk 41. A 23-yard pass to Bryant and a 17-yard run by Cornett led to Bryant’s 1-yard touchdown run, and Caverly’s conversion pass to Casey made it 14-0 with 1:34 left in the half.

Kennebunk got on the board with three seconds left in the half on a 55-yard pass from Tommy Lazos to Sullivan.

“We had a breakdown in our coverage,” Rotsko said. “It became a one-score game, but it didn’t seem to affect us. We came out and played hard.”

Marshwood drove 56 yards early in the third quarter, capped by Bryant’s 5-yard run, for a 20-6 lead. A 30-yard pass from Caverly to Casey made it 26-6. After Cornett’s punt return, Marshwood went up 32-6 on John Valentine’s 18-yard halfback pass to Casey.

“It was a pretty good contest,” Rotsko said. “Offensively, we didn’t get it going in the first half, but eventually we seemed to play a little bit better.”

Marshwood, which lost a one-point game to Class A finalist Thornton Academy early in the season, takes a nine-game winning streak into the state final.

 

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