ORONO — You could count the number of times and the number of points the Leavitt football team had trailed all season with one finger. So when the Hornets trailed Maine Central Institute by 12 points early in the first quarter of the Class C state championship game Friday, and then by 10 points in the third quarter, no one really knew how they would respond.

Turns out, resiliency is something the Hornets know quite a bit about.

Wyatt Hathaway’s 19-yard touchdown run with 8:24 remaining put Leavitt ahead for good, and the Hornets forced a pair of MCI turnovers in Leavitt territory down the stretch to hold on for a 30-24 win.

The win capped a 12-0 season and gave Leavitt its first state championship since 2013. MCI ended the season at 9-3.

“We just had to believe,” said Leavitt senior Cam Jordan, who had three sacks and a touchdown catch. “We never had a doubt in our mind.”

The Hornets lost to Fryeburg Academy in the Class C South final last season, hours after the unexpected death of assistant coach Peter Casey.

“I’m just proud of our team,” Leavitt Coach Mike Hathaway said. “For them to be down twice and come back shows the character these kids have.”

Leavitt’s winning drive came after the Hornets stopped MCI on downs at the Leavitt 25 late in the third quarter. The Hornets marched 75 yards in nine plays, and Wyatt Hathaway’s run to the right corner of the end zone gave Leavitt the lead. DaSean Calder’s 2-point conversion run made it 30-24.

MCI, making its fifth appearance in a state final in the last six years, finished 9-3.

“We had our chances and weren’t able to convert,” MCI Coach Tom Bertrand said. “For our guys, we expect to be here each year. I wouldn’t say we overachieved. We finally peaked. We just didn’t make enough plays today.”

Down six, the Huskies drove to the Leavitt 43 with 6:30 to play, only to see the drive end with a Mark Herman interception at the 37.

After Leavitt turned the ball over on downs at the MCI 31 with 3:16 left, the Huskies marched to midfield, but Hathaway’s interception with 1:11 remaining clinched the victory.

MCI had a dream start. After recovering an onside kick, the Huskies went 45 yards in five plays, starting with Dominic Wilson’s 30-yard reception from Ryan Friend. On fourth-and-11 from the 16, Wilson caught a tipped ball in the end zone for a 6-0 lead.

After forcing a punt on Leavitt’s first drive, the Huskies again scored quickly. On the second play, Friend found Will Russell down the middle for a 44-yard touchdown, and MCI led 12-0 not quite four minutes into the game.

“They started throwing it and we weren’t ready for that,” Jordan said.

With Leavitt stacking the box to stop the run, MCI knew it could put the ball in the air.

“They were in man coverage, and we know we’ve got playmakers out there,” Bertrand said.

“I know where they saw we were stacking the line, they’d throw,” Coach Hathaway said. “Ryan Friend is a great quarterback, and I’d put the ball in his hands, too.”

Leavitt caught the break it needed when, after being forced to punt again, it recovered a fumbled punt at the MCI 29. Calder’s 3-yard touchdown run with 1:53 left in the first quarter cut MCI’s lead to 12-8.

The Hornets had a 6-minute scoring drive that ended early in the second quarter when Cam Jordan caught a 7-yard pass on fourth-and-goal. Hathaway scrambled to his right, buying Jordan time to get open in the right corner of the end zone, and Jordan got both feet down inbounds.

“I know (Hathaway) can make plays when he scrambles, so I was just trying to get open,” Jordan said.

The lead was short-lived. MCI answered with a five-play, 62 yard drive, ending when Nason Berthelette caught a 31-yard pass for an 18-14 lead.

The Huskies made it 24-14 when Isaac Bussell scored on a 12-yard run with 9:41 left in the third quarter. Leavitt responded with a scoring drive of its own, cutting the Huskies lead to 24-22 when Calder (20 carries, 126 yards) broke free for a 14-yard touchdown run and then added a conversion rush.

Jordan’s third sack came when the Huskies were marching on their last-chance drive, and put MCI in a third-and-14 situation at the Leavitt 47.

“Cam’s been a beast all year. You can’t block that dude,” Coach Hathaway said.

Russell had five catches for 94 yards for MCI. Friend threw for 230 yards.

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