Leavitt 42 Portland 8

L- 6 22 8 6- 42
P- 0 0 8 0- 8

First quarter
L- Keach 10 run (rush failed)

Second quarter
L- Carpenter 10 run (Demers rush)
L- Keach 10 run (rush failed)
L- Carpenter 3 run (Rowe rush)

Third quarter
P- Wani 61 pass from Thurston (Charles rush)
L- Carpenter 59 run (Carpenter rush)

Fourth quarter
L- Demers 3 run (rush failed)

PORTLAND—Throw out the enrollment numbers and classification, the truth of the matter is this.


Leavitt’s football program is simply special.

Something that the Portland Bulldogs found out, much to their chagrin, Friday evening at Fitzpatrick Stadium.

The Hornets, a longtime power looking to return to the pinnacle in Class C this fall, made quick work of the Class B Bulldogs, thanks in large part to the dynamic skills of junior quarterback extraordinaire Noah Carpenter, and went on to a statement-making victory.

Leavitt took the opening kickoff, drove the field and went on top to stay on a 10-yard run from junior Will Keach.

Portland was only down, 6-0, after one quarter, but the Hornets extended their advantage to 28-0 at the break, as Carpenter scored on a 10-yard run, Keach scored on another 10-yard scamper and Carpenter bulled in from the 3.

The Bulldogs showed a little life in the third period, as sophomore quarterback Louis Thurston threw a 61-yard touchdown bomb to senior Remijo Wani, but Carpenter quickly answered, breaking free for a 59-yard TD to make it 36-8.


Junior Maddox Demers added one more touchdown run, from 3-yards out, in the fourth quarter and Leavitt slammed the door on a 42-8 victory.

Carpenter got the job done through the air and on the ground, scored three touchdowns and led the Hornets to their second straight victory, while dropping Portland to 1-1 in the process.

“They’re really good,” said Bulldogs coach Jason McLeod, of Leavitt. “They do everything right in all three phases of the game. They’re physical up front. They shed tackles and get to the ball. They’re tough.”

First time

Because Portland has almost always played in the biggest class (until just recently), its path has never crossed with Leavitt, a program that has long made an impact in multiple classes, winning a state title as long ago as 1966 and as recently in 2019.

The Hornets just missed out on another Gold Ball last season, falling at home on the last play of the Class C South Final to eventual champion Cape Elizabeth. Leavitt kicked off its 2022 campaign in style with an emphatic 50-0 home victory over York. In that one, Carpenter three for three touchdowns and ran for another.


The Bulldogs also lost in the regional final a year ago, as their bid for a perfect season was dashed by Marshwood in the Class B South Final. Despite being hard-hit by graduation, Portland opened with a hard-fought and confidence-inspiring 21-14 victory at Kennebunk (in a game played in Biddeford) Saturday. The win came at a price, however, as senior quarterback Sam Esposito, who appeared poised for a big season, broke his collarbone and scapula and is out for the season. That puts the onus on Thurston to quickly get up to speed.

Friday, on a comfortable September evening (70 degrees at kickoff), the Hornets started strong and never let up en route to a decisive victory.

Leavitt took over at its 34 after the opening kickoff and nine plays and 3 minutes, 40 seconds later, was in the end zone.

The tone was set when Demers fought through tackles to gain seven yards, then Keach picked up 14 more and while a blocking in the back penalty moved the ball back to the 45, it was just a momentary impediment. After Carpenter completed his first pass, a five-yard toss to senior Brett Coburn, senior Dayton Calder swept left and burst free for 20 yards and a first down at the Bulldogs’ 30. After an incomplete pass, Calder gained 18 yards, again breaking multiple tackles. After Coburn was dropped for a one-yard loss by junior Brayden Wales, Carpenter ran for three yards and on third-and-8, Keach got the ball and ran to the left and beat the pursuit to the edge before racing into the end zone.

Calder’s two-point conversion rush was stopped short, but with 8:14 to go in the opening stanza, the Hornets had a 6-0 advantage.

“That (first drive) was good,” Carpenter said. “That got rid of the nerves. That just gave us momentum from there.”


“It’s always important on the road to come out fast and get the first score,” said Leavitt coach Michael Hathaway.

After Carpenter booted the ensuing kickoff into the end zone for a touchback, Portland started at its 20 and moved the chains, as junior Reegan Buck ran for six yards, senior Kennedy Charles picked up one and on third down, out of the Wildcat formation, Charles kept the ball for five more, good for a first down at the 32. After Buck ran for two yards, disaster struck for the hosts, as Thurston tried to hit Kennedy on a short throw, but the ball went through Kennedy’s fingers and was intercepted by diving Leavitt senior Brandon Rowe to set up a short field.

The Hornets couldn’t take advantage, however, as after Carpenter threw incomplete and Calder moved the chains with a 13-yard burst, Carpenter threw into the end zone, but was picked off by Bulldogs junior Hunter Temple.

Portland could do nothing with its good fortune, as Charles was thrown for a four-yard loss, senior Andrew Brewer got the four yards back and Thurston hit Wani for five yards, but the Bulldogs had to punt. Brewer then kicked the ball 48 yards and Leavitt started at its 27.

The Hornets then began to drive again.

After Calder gained three yards, Demers picked up one and on third-and-six, Carpenter scrambled for 13 and a first down at the 44. After Demers broke tackles to gain 13 more yards into Portland territory, an illegal formation penalty backed Leavitt up five yards and Charles tackled Calder for a three-yard loss, but on the final play of the opening stanza, Carpenter hit Coburn for 16 yards to the Bulldogs’ 35.


The second quarter began inauspiciously for the Hornets, as Carpenter, under pressure, threw incomplete and an intentional grounding penalty was tacked on, forcing a punt.

Carpenter then showed off his leg anew with a punt that went into the end zone for a touchback.

Portland quickly gave the ball back, as Buck gained a yard and after a holding penalty and a delay of game transgression set up second-and-25, Charles was held to no gain and fumbled on the play with Coburn recovering, giving Leavitt the ball at the Bulldogs’ 16.

Two plays later, the Hornets added to their lead.

Calder ran for six yards, then Carpenter kept the ball, ran to the left and burst through traffic into the end zone for the score. Demers added the two-point conversion and with 9:19 remaining in the first half, the score was 14-0.

Leavitt then twice caught Portland napping on special teams plays en route to another score.


On the ensuing kickoff, instead of booting the ball deep, Carpenter tried an on-sides kick down the right side and freshman Mason Henderson recovered at the Bulldogs’ 44.

“I’ll give my special teams coach credit,” said Hathaway. “He saw it on tape and he said all week it would work and when we went to do it, I said, ‘Are you sure?’ He said, ‘Yup, 100 percent.’ We went for it and got it.”

After Carpenter hit senior Sawyer Hathaway for nine yards, a holding penalty backed up the Hornets and Demers ran for four yards and Carpenter threw incomplete, setting up fourth-and-9 and forcing a punt.

Or so we thought.

Carpenter took the snap and rolled to his right and instead of punting, he threw deep to Hathaway for a 33-yard completion and a first down at the 10.

“That’s just a rugby punt,” Coach Hathaway said. “Noah can run it, throw it or kick it. He and Sawyer thought they had something the time before, so they went back to it and made me look good.”


On the next play, Keach got the ball and bulled in for another touchdown. Keach’s two-point conversion rush was stopped shy of the goal line, but with 7:20 to go in the half, the lead was 20-0.

Portland started at its 20 after a touchback, but quickly gave the ball back, going three-and-out, as Thurston hit Wani for six yards, but Brewer was thrown for a three-yard loss by senior Beau Mayo and junior Jace Negley sacked Thurston and an intentional grounding penalty was tacked on, moving the ball back to the 6.

After a punt, Leavitt started at the Bulldogs’ 39 and in six plays, found paydirt again.

After Carpenter kept the ball for eight yards, he hit Hathaway for a dozen and a first down at the 19. Calder ran for seven yards, then Hathaway caught a slant for six yards, setting up first-and-goal at the 6. After Demers ran for three yards, Carpenter kept the ball and scored on a 3-yard burst up the middle. Rowe ran in the two-point conversion and with 1:55 on the clock, the Hornets were firmly in control, up, 28-0.

Portland started at its 18 and again went three-and-out, as Buck ran for four yards, then gained one and Brewer only gained four yards on third-and-5.

Leavitt got one more chance before halftime, starting at its 42 with 44 seconds to go, but after Coburn caught a Carpenter pass for 12 yards, a holding penalty backed the Hornets up and they were content going to intermission with a four-touchdown advantage.


In the first 24 minutes, the Hornets had 197 yards of offense while the Bulldogs only managed 11.

Portland would show some life in the third period, but couldn’t make a serious run.

The Bulldogs’ first drive bore no fruit, as starting from the 20, Brewer gained a yard and Thurston and Buck were each held to no gain, forcing a punt.

Leavitt took over at Portland’s 29, but couldn’t score, as after Carpenter ran for five yards, Calder picked up seven, then four to the 13. Carpenter picked up 10 more, but the play was nullified by a personal foul penalty and on the next snap, under pressure, Carpenter threw an interception to Bulldogs junior Isaak Alkafaji.

From its 39, Portland struck immediately for its lone score.

Thurston dropped back and unleashed a bomb down the middle. Despite being double-teamed, Wani got behind the defense, caught the throw, then strolled into the end zone for the touchdown. Charles then ran in the two-point conversion and with 7:16 to go in the quarter, the Bulldogs were on the board and trailed, 28-8.


But the Hornets got the points right back with an explosive play of their own.

Starting at its 20, Leavitt was quickly backed up 10 yards by a holding penalty, but Carpenter gained five yards, then Keach broke away for 24 and a first down at the 39. Keach ran for two more yards, then Carpenter kept the ball, burst up the middle, cut to his left, then outran the pursuit the end zone. Carpenter added the two-point conversion and with 4:57 to go, the lead was 28 points again, 36-8.

Portland threatened again on its next drive, which began at its 19, but ultimately couldn’t finish.

After Brewer ran for four yards, the Thurston-to-Wani connection gained 31 more yards, as Wani won a jump ball to the Hornets’ 46. After Buck ran for nine yards, Brewer gained four, but a personal foul penalty backed the Bulldogs up and on the next play, after catching a short pass from Thurston, Wani was hit hard by Mayo, fumbled and senior Nick Morin recovered at the 46.

As the third quarter gave way to the fourth, Leavitt drove 54 yards in eight plays for its final score.

A Calder four yard run and a 15-yard burst from Demers set up first down at the Portland 35. After Carpenter threw incomplete, Rowe ran for two yards. On the first play of the final stanza, Demers broke away for 22 yards, setting up first down at the 11. Demers gained two more yards, then Carpenter picked up six. Demers then got another carry and he ran up the gut into the end zone for the 3-yard score. Senior Jacob Mellen’s two-point rush was stopped short but with 10:44 to play, the Hornets had a 42-8 advantage.


The Bulldogs started their ensuing drive at their 42 and Buck ran for nine yards, sophomore Aidan McGowan picked up 12 and Buck gained 13 more for a first down at the Leavitt 24, but McGowan was dropped for a one-yard loss and after Buck ran for nine yards, Thurston was intercepted by junior Aiden Turcotte.

Leavitt brought out its second string offense for its final series and starting from its 6, moved the ball.

After sophomore Landon Daigle gained two yards and sophomore Keegan Reny was held to no gain, Turcotte picked up nine and Henderson ran for 19 for a first down at the 36. Junior Colten Taylor, who had come on to replace Carpenter at quarterback, gained two yards, junior Chase Webster was dropped for a four-yard loss, Turcotte ran for five yards and Henderson gained two, which ran out the clock and brought the curtain down on the Hornets’ 42-8 victory.

“It’s nice to play here,” Carpenter said. “We were excited to play at one of the best stadiums in Maine. Everyone showed up and it was just a great experience.”

“The chance to play Portland in Portland, that doesn’t come up for teams like us very much,” Coach Hathaway said. “Kudos to our guys for having enough respect to get a game like this and kudos to Portland for being willing to play. It was great to come down here and get to play in an atmosphere like this, we loved it.”

Carpenter turned heads by rushing for 112 yards and three touchdowns on nine carries, while also completing 7-of-13 passes for 93 yards.


“I just try to not make too many errors and take what’s given,” said Carpenter.

“Noah is special,” Coach Hathaway said. “He can hurt you in a lot of different ways. Obviously with his feet and arm and his kicking game is good and he’s a heck of a safety too. What was nice to see is that his leadership is coming around in the right direction.”

Keach wound up scoring twice and gained 57 yards on six attempts.

Demers ran nine times for 70 yards with a touchdown.

Calder didn’t get in the end zone, but managed 82 yards on nine rushes.

Hathaway caught four passes for 60 yards and Coburn had three receptions for 33 yards.


Leavitt finished with 367 yards of offense and overcame two turnovers and committed seven accepted penalties for 77 yards.

Learning experience

Portland finished with 152 yards of offense, with 141 of those coming after the half.

Thurston’s first start saw him complete 5-of-9 passes for 105 yards, a touchdown and two interceptions.

“Louis Thurston worked hard and wants to do well,” McLeod said. “He’s maintained a positive frame of mind. For him to throw that nice ball to Remijo, that was definitely a building block.”

Wani caught five passes for 105 yards and a score.


Buck led the rushing game with 55 yards on 11 attempts.

The Bulldogs turned the ball over four times and committed four penalties for 42 yards.

“We’ve got to play better,” said McLeod. “We have to set the tone earlier. We have to be more physical. We have to do a lot of things in all three phases. You just can’t make the mistakes we did in the first half. We made critical mistakes and they capitalized on them.”

Doesn’t get easier

Leavitt returns home to take on Class A contender Lewiston (1-1) next Saturday, another squad that the Hornets don’t play traditionally, but a foe they’ll welcome.

“I think we’ll be good,” said Carpenter. “We have to keep pushing each other to get better. Last year drives the whole team a lot. We’re hungry because we knew how close we were last year. We’re trying to take it one game at a time and trying to get better and better every day.”


“We have a ways to go and have some maturity things to work out, but the guys are taking the coaching and doing what they’re supposed to do,” said Coach Hathaway. “We’re not really clean, so we have some things we have to fix. We played (Lewiston) every year from third grade on, so it’s going to be a cool game. Throw the records out.”

Portland travels to Bonny Eagle next Friday. The always-tough Scots (1-1) will be fired up after losing at home to Scarborough Friday.

“We wanted our schedule this way,” said McLeod. “We want to play top teams, especially cross-conference, but if we don’t get better, it could be a long season.

“There’s a lot of things we can build off and once we tighten things up, we’ll get better week-to-week.”

Sports Editor Michael Hoffer can be reached at [email protected]. Follow him on Twitter: @foresports.

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