Lisbon/St. Dominic players react from the sideline after a big gain by running back Daytona McIver in Portland on Saturday. (Daryn Slover / Sun Journal)

PORTLAND — For the better part of 48 minutes at Fitzpatrick Stadium Saturday afternoon, Bucksport ran play after play, using its big offensive line and the tough running of freshman Jaxon Gross to gain yardage.

But when push came to shove and they had their backs against the wall, the Lisbon/St. Dom’s Greyhounds stood tall, making one key stop after another and converting their chances for a 28-8 victory in the State Class D Football Championship.

Lisbon celebrates its first Gold Ball since 2006, the second of back-to-back State Class C titles under legendary coach Dick Mynahan, who was there to congratulate Chris Kates, who won his first title as the Greyhound coach.

Twice, the Lisbon offense converted fourth downs — the first a 17-yard touchdown pass from Seth Leeman to Justin Le — and the second a 21-yard passing play to Daytona McIver that set up Le’s second touchdown — a 1-yard TD run late in the third quarter for a 21-8 Greyhound lead.

“We were hoping to come out with a pass in some of the key situations,” said Kates. “Justin Le hadn’t caught a pass all season and he catches a touchdown. We just tried to get some other kids involved in the game that Bucksport might not have scouted.

Daytona McIver of Lisbon gains yards during Saturday’s game against Bucksport. (Daryn Slover / Sun Journal)

On the other side of the ball, Gross was a tough runner to stop. He carried the ball 35 times for 211 yards, scoring Bucksport’s lone touchdown to cap off a five-plus minute drive. His 2-point conversion run gave the Golden Bucks (9-1) a short-lived 8-7 lead.

“Everything that everyone said about their size was correct. Those kids will pound you for a full game,” Kates said of Bucksport.

“They had some big, powerful boys, great players, but we had that fire,” said Lisbon/St. Dom’s linebacker Colin Houle, who led the Greyhound defense with a dozen tackles and two big sacks of Bucksport quarterback Brady Findlay (4-of-13, 33 yards, two interceptions).

Quick start

Lisbon began the game on defense, and on the third Bucksport play, Riley Quatrano intercepted a Findlay pass to set Lisbon up at the Golden Bucks 48-yard line.

McIver broke loose for 12 yards, and Leeman threw to Robbie Dick for 18 more, moving the Greyhounds to the

Lisbon/St. Dominic quarterback Seth Leeman hoists the Gold Ball after the Greyhounds beat Bucksport, 28-8, for the State Class D  championship on Saturday in Portland. Daryn Slover / Sun Journal)

Bucksport 20. Facing a fourth-down and seven, Leeman found Le on a post pattern for a touchdown, with Levi Levesque tacking on the point-after kick for a 7-0 Lisbon lead 4:39 into the game.

Bucksport used its second drive to establish the run, with Gross, Logan Stanley, Josh Miller and Ty Giberson following their big offensive line. The Golden Bucks held the ball for more than nine minutes, but Dick stopped Tyler Hallett well short of a first down to turn the ball over on downs early in the second quarter.

“Our plan coming in was that we knew they would get some yardage, so we just wanted to bend and make the big plays in the red zone. We executed the game plan defensively,” said Kates.

The Lisbon offense went three-and-out and punted, and Gross carried 10 times on the ensuing drive, including a 1-yard TD run and 2-point conversion for an 8-7 lead with 3:44 left until halftime.

The Greyhounds responded immediately, as Leeman found a hole and sprinted 55 yards to paydirt, giving Lisbon a 14-8 advantage a mere 17 seconds after Bucksport had taken the lead.

“Our linemen did a great job against a team that was huge and very physical,” said Leeman, who accounted for 93 yards (58 rushing, 35 passing) in the first half as the Greyhounds carried the 14-8 lead into the intermission.

Bucksport trailed despite possessing the ball for more than 18 minutes and picking up nine first downs.

Second half

Penalties helped stop the Lisbon/St. Dom’s (8-3) offense to open the third quarter, with three infractions moving the Greyhounds backwards before Bucksport safety Jacob Guty stepped in front of a Lisbon receiver to intercept a Leeman pass.

Bucksport gained 24 yards, but Quatrano picked off a Findlay pass for the second time, giving the Greyhounds the ball at the Lisbon 48-yard line.

Leeman picked up 17 yards for a first down, and facing another fourth down at the Bucksport 22-yard line, the quarterback stepped back and threw a strike to McIver for 21 yards to the Golden Bucks one-yard line. Le plowed into the end zone on the next play and the Greyhounds led 21-8 with 2:15 remaining in the third quarter.

Bucksport tried to respond, but Lisbon held on downs on back-to-back Golden Buck drives before McIver (nine rushes, 102 yards) put the game on ice with a 53-yard TD run with 1:51 remaining in the game.

Justin Le of Lisbon/St. Dominic turns into the end zone for the Greyhounds first touchdown in Portland on Saturday. Daryn Slover / Sun Journal)

“Those were huge plays because you have to convert on fourth down and not give up field position,” said Leeman, who threw for 84 yards and a touchdown and rushed for 76 yards on 11 carries. “Without those big stops, and us converting on those fourth downs, we may not win this. I can’t come up with the words to explain this feeling, to see all of us out here celebrating.”

“The linebackers, the whole team shot their gaps and just came together when we needed to make our reads,” said Le, who has now won two state titles (football, baseball) in the past five months. “It has been one crazy year. We were just able to come together and win these two state championships. I never thought I would be able to win two championships in my high school career, much less in one year.”

“This means everything for us. We have put so much effort into this. We were underdogs throughout this season and we proved everyone wrong,” Houle added.

Kates summed a season to remember for Lisbon/St. Dom’s football.

“We graduated a lot from last year. We averaged 30 kids in the weight room during the offseason and they turned into some fine football players,” Kates said.

Cam Bourget was a force on defense for the Greyhounds, registering 10 solo tackles. Dick, McIver, Le and Leeman each made six tackles, while defensive lineman Dan Bolton had a sack. Levesque was a perfect 4-for-4 in point-after kicks and chipped in five tackles.

For Bucksport, David Gross and Evan Trojano had five tackles apiece.

Lisbon/St. Dom’s 28, Bucksport 8

State Class D Football Championship

Saturday at Fitzpatrick Stadium in Portland

Bucksport — 0 8 0 0 — 8

Lisbon — 7 7 7 7 — 28

First quarter

L — Justin Le 17 pass from Seth Leeman (Levi Levesque kick), 7:21.

Second quarter

B — Jaxon Gross 1 run (Jaxon Gross run), 3;44.

L — Seth Leeman 55 run (Levi Levesque kick), 3:27.

Third quarter

L — Justin Le 1 run (Levi Levesque kick), 2:15.

Fourth quarter

L — Daytona McIver 53 run (Levi Levesque kick), 1:51.

Records — Lisbon/St. Dom’s 8-3, Bucksport 9-1.

Note — This is Lisbon/St. Dom’s first co-op state title and the first for the Greyhounds program since 2006.

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