Jasper Turner of Mountain Valley High School leans over the goal line for a second half touchdown against Lisbon High School in Lisbon on Saturday. Turner’s touchdown put the Falcons up 12-6. (Daryn Slover/Sun Journal)
LISBON — Trailing Mountain Valley early in the fourth quarter of a bruising Class D South battle, Lisbon’s defense went into shut down mode, and its offense went into Lucas Francis mode.
The Greyhounds limited the Falcons to minus-8 net yards on offense and Francis scored two touchdowns and a two-point conversion in the final quarter to rally for a 20-12 victory at Thompson Field on Saturday.
“We’d rather not wait until the fourth quarter, but it is what it is,” Francis said. “Our conditioning really just drove them down, I guess.”
The Greyhounds trailed 12-6 heading into the fourth quarter.
Francis, who scored all three Lisbon touchdowns, powered across the goal line on his second effort for an eight-yard run for the winning TD with 1:47 remaining. The senior quarterback (31 carries, 94 yards) then punched in the two-point conversion to make it an eight-point lead.
“I think they really put it to us in the first quarter. I thought we won the second and third quarters and then they dominated the fourth,” Mountain Valley coach Pat Mooney said. “That’s what they did to Fryeburg last week. It was pretty even up until the fourth. They don’t stop. We had to match them physically in the fourth, and we didn’t do that at all.”
Mountain Valley’s hopes for a game-tying drive immediately took a hit when Lisbon senior defensive end Kane Strout sacked Falcons QB Dylan Desroches for an eight-yard loss on first down.
“I was just doing my job,” said Strout, who had two sacks on the day. “I came across and I chased him down the line and I got him.”
Desroches got his next three throws off, but they all fell incomplete, which allowed Francis to take a knee to kill the clock.
The Falcons (1-1) could have had a larger fourth-quarter cushion to work with if they had capitalized on at least one of a pair of scoring chances inside Lisbon’s 10-yard line in the first quarter.
Lisbon (2-0) had taken a 6-0 lead on the game’s opening drive, converting a fourth-and-10 on Francis’ pass to Robbie Dick before Francis ran it in from 14 yards out.
Mountain Valley answered with a long kick return followed by a 33-yard run by Desroches that set it up at Lisbon’s 5. Jacob Blanchard’s three-yard run on first down got the Falcons to the 2, but Alan Lavoie stopped him for no gain on second down and Daytona McIver dropped him for a four-yard loss to force fourth-and-goal from the 6.
The Falcons elected to go for it, and Desroches found an open receiver in the end zone, only to have the pass slip through the receiver’s hands to preserve Lisbon’s lead.
“Mountain Valley’s speed on the outside terrified us, so we tried to force them inside. For the most part, we did a good job,” Lisbon coach Chris Kates said.
Two plays later, the Greyhounds gave the Falcons the ball back on a fumbled handoff exchange at their own 9. But a false start and two incomplete passes forced the Falcons to settle for a 32-yard field goal attempt, which was blocked by Lavoie.
Lisbon did a lot to thwart Mountain Valley’s speed advantage, getting into the backfield frequently to harass Desroches, and outside to cover his pitch men on the triple-option.
“All week, we worked on their triple option,” Francis said. “We had different queues as to what was going on. We had one person attacking every single (option), the dive, the quarterback, the pitch. That’s a really big part of their offense.”
“Lisbon’s a well-coached team. They’re very talented,” Mooney said. “They took away the things that we do best. We saw some openings. We saw some things that we really liked. But we couldn’t ever set up the outside like we wanted to.”
The Falcons finally tied it early in the second quarter when Taylor Pelletier made a fine one-handed catch in front of his own sideline and turned upfield for a 77-yard touchdown. Lavoie blocked the ensuing PAT kick to keep it 6-6, which is where it remained at halftime.
Mountain Valley took the lead early in the third quarter, thanks in part to an ill-advised decision by Francis to fake a punt from his own 19. Back-t0-back Desroches runs pushed the Falcons to the 1 and Jasper Turner found the end zone from there for a 12-6 advantage.
“They hit us on a few (runs) up the middle where we actually just over-pursued it and took ourselves out of position and they called the right play to take advantage,” Kates said. “We had to pull our defensive tackles back and say pursue hard but not too hard. Don’t get too far into the backfield.”
Francis, who totaled 57 of his rushing yards in the fourth quarter, tied the game again with a one-yard TD run early in the fourth.
Lisbon’s defense forced two more three-and-outs to give the offense excellent starting field position, at Mountain Valley’s 41, for the game-winning drive with six minutes left.
The Greyhounds still needed Isaiah Thompson to convert on fourth-and-1 with a three-yard run to keep the drive alive. Three Francis runs later and they had their second, and final, lead of the game.
Francis completed 7 of 14 passes for 79 yards and also recovered two fumbles on defense. Dick and Isaac Burnell had interceptions for the Greyhounds.
Desroches finished 4-for-17 for 119 yards passing, one TD and two interceptions. He also led the Falcons with 45 yards rushing.
Mountain Valley quarterback Dylan Desroches breaks the grasp of Lisbon High School’s Colin Houle during the first half in Lisbon on Saturday. (Daryn Slover/Sun Journal)
Mountain Valley quarterback Dylan Desroches finds room along the sideline while being chased by Cam Bourget of Lisbon during the first half in Lisbon on Saturday. (Daryn Slover/Sun Journal)
Mountain Valley quarterback Dylan Desroches gets a pass off while being pressured by Colin Houle of Lisbon late in the fourth quarter in Lisbon on Saturday. (Daryn Slover/Sun Journal)
Lucas Francis punts the ball during Saturday’s game against Mountain Valley High School in Lisbon. (Daryn Slover/Sun Journal)
Taylor Pelletier of Mountain Valley High School hauls in a pass over Seth Leeman of Lisbon for a 77-yard touchdown reception in Lisbon on Saturday. Pelletier’s catch tied the score at 6. (Daryn Slover/Sun Journal)
Darin Buono of Mountain Valley tries to pull down Lisbon quarterback Lucas Francis during the first half in Lisbon on Saturday. (Daryn Slover/Sun Journal)