Mountain Valley’s Jacob Blanchard runs down the field as Poland’s Zach Cote keeps the pressure on during Friday night’s football game in Rumford.
RUMFORD — Poland knew that it was going up against an offense with plenty of firepower Friday night, but giving Mountain Valley an 8-0 lead off the opening kickoff was never part of the plan.
Jacob Blanchard returned the opening kickoff 86 yards for a touchdown and added a touchdown run late in the first quarter as the Falcons jumped out to a 28-0 lead on their way to a 36-0 win over the Knights in a Class D South football game at Chet Bulger Field.
“You just can’t give up an opening kickoff for six and not expect to be on your heels for a little bit,” Poland coach Gene Keene said.
The Knights (0-5) responded with their best drive of the game, picking up a first down and moving the ball into Falcons (3-2) territory. But that drive ended after seven plays with a punt, and Poland couldn’t take advantage of a Mountain Valley fumble on the play.
The Falcons were able to take advantage of their early momentum. Spinback (Mountain Valley’s version of a quarterback) Dylan Desroches capped off a 10-play, 80-yard drive with a 5-yard touchdown run. After the Knights fumbled a handoff on their next snap, Blanchard ran for 23 yards and Curtis Gauvin rumbled in from one yard out for another score. A Poland three-and-out was followed by another two-play Mountain Valley drive, consisting of a Desroches 46-yard pass to Andrew McDonald and a 31-yard Blanchard touchdown run.
“First 12 minutes we came out fired up, we came out ready to go,” Falcons coach Pat Mooney said. “We executed perfectly. Everything went off without a hitch, it was great.”
The Falcons couldn’t reciprocate that scoring output in the second quarter, despite getting deep into Poland territory on both of their drives. A turnover-on-downs and just a plain, old turnover ended the drives.
“The next 12 minutes I don’t know if we went to sleep. I don’t know,” Mooney said. “We haven’t really played four full quarters of football all year. We were hoping to kind of get that out of our system tonight. And some bad habits crept back up.”
The Mountain Valley defense was stout in both quarters, and in both halves. The Falcons allowed just two total yards in the first half, then held the Knights to minus-one yards in the second half.
“Defense was outstanding. By far the best we’ve played all year,” Mooney said. “We talked about eliminating big plays. We felt like our defense has been solid all year, but we give up too many big plays at bad times. We did great tonight. Defense was excellent.”
“We’re still inconsistent on offense. We’re young, and I guess that’s the way it’s going to be right now,” Keene said. “We’re getting a little better, we’re making a few plays here and there.”
The Knights had trouble getting their running game going, but quarterbacks Joe Ringuette and Brady Downing both showed flashes, combining to go 5 for 8 in the first half.
“They both have their own strengths,” Keene said. “Neither one of them comes off the field. When one of them is at quarterback, the other one is at wide receiver.
“I wish sometimes I could mold them together because they both have their own strengths.”
While Aaron Paradis couldn’t find much running room (14 yards on nine carries), he did flip the field on most of his seven punts, and he was in on a handful of tackles on defense.
“He’s played a lot of football, he’s got a big heart, he was one of our best offseason training guys, and he’s just got a good motor, and he leads by example,” Keene said. “He’s a great kid, works his tail off.”
Blanchard finished with 115 yards on 11 carries, while Desroches was 3 for 3 passing for 62 yards — including a 13-yard touchdown pass to to Nate White late in the third quarter — and added 10 carries for 87 yards.
Mountain Valley’s Jasper Turner tries to evade a tackle from Poland’s Gawain Tibbits during Friday night’s football game in Rumford. Avery Bradeen comes in for an assist.Mountain Valley’s Jasper Turner tries to escape a tackle from Poland’s Gawain Tibbits during Friday night’s football game in Rumford. Mountain Valley’s Avery Bradeen comes in for an assist. But check out that ref!
Mountain Valley’s Jacob Blanchard runs the ball down the field while being chased by Tyler Tucci during Friday night’s football game in Rumford.