Oxford Hills’ Marcus Stone, left, and Ty LeBlond stuff Bangor’s Eli Bradford on a kickoff return during Saturday’s game at Gouin Athletic Complex in Paris. (Brewster Burns photo)
PARIS — Homecoming was the perfect prescription for an Oxford Hills team coming off a week of illness, injury and its first loss of the season.
The offense sputtered a bit early but was unstoppable once it found its rhythm, and the defense dominated throughout a 45-0 win over Bangor at Gouin Athletic Complex on Saturday.
Quarterback Colton Carson rushed for 141 yards and two touchdowns and threw for 105 and a TD in three quarters of action for the Vikings (3-1). Emerson Brown (two touchdowns), Parker LaFrance (70 yards, touchdown) and Janek Luksza (65 yards) also contributed to rushing attack that racked up 308 yards.
“I think everyone did a good job blocking, and that really gets us going,” Luksza said.
“We didn’t really set the tone (on the line),” senior two-way tackle Austin Doughty said. “It was just Colton and the boys back there passing it around. (Blocking) is just our job. That’s what we’re supposed to do.”
Carson, Luksza and LaFrance also contributed on the defensive side, accounting for three of the Vikings’ four sacks of Bangor QB Zachary Milliken. JJ Worster and Travis May split the other sack.
The Vikings marched 70 yards on eight plays on their first possession and opened up a 7-0 lead on Brown’s 13-yard TD run. But their next drive stalled at Bangor’s 23, and their first possession of the second quarter ended with a fourth-down fumble at the Rams’ 34.
“We got away from it a little bit in the Sanford game (a 20-6 loss), so we wanted to establish the some of that inside run stuff,” Oxford Hills coach Mark Soehren. “We went on the long drive and scored, and then Bangor did a nice job stopping the inside run. So then we went outside and it was tough to stop.”
Oxford Hills’ defense had the outside and inside thoroughly covered, however, keeping the Rams’ net yardage in the negative for much of the first half and not allowing a first down until the second half.
The Vikings finished with a 413-29 advantage in total yards, including just seven yards rushing on 25 carries for Bangor. The starting defense, which played three quarters, allowed just 15 yards.
“Our defense sets the tone,” Luksza said.
“Coach D (defensive coordinator Nate Danforth) is just a really good coach,” Doughty said. “He knows what he’s doing, so he knows where to put us. Our linebackers know what holes to fill and what to do.”
The Vikings’ first stop of the second quarter led to a 13-yard Bangor punt that set the offense up at the Rams’ 47. Seven plays later, Carson carried in his first touchdown from 11 yards out for a 14-0 lead with 4:48 left.
Two more quick three-and-outs by the defense gave the offense two more chances to reach the end zone, the first on a 37-yard pass from Carson to Luksza, the second on Carson’s nine-yard run.
Special teams gave Oxford Hills one more chance to score before halftime as Tanner Herrick blocked the Rams’ seventh punt of the half. Bangor fell on the ball at its own 17 with 0.1 second left, just enough time for the Vikings to send Luksza out for a 34-yard field goal that split the uprights as the siren sounded for a 31-0 halftime lead.
“That was great. All the credit to Tanner on that,” Luksza said. “I always have the same routine (kicking). Routine is key.”
After Brown scored his second TD from 18 yards out, Bangor finally secured its first first down of the game midway through the third quarter on a three-yard run by Gabe Higgins. But the Vikings immediately punished the Rams for this transgression on the next play when Worster pressured Milliken and forced him into an interception by sophomore defensive tackle Jream Tripp at the Rams’ 36.
LaFrance capped the scoring on the ensuing drive with a 14-yard run.
Soehren said the Vikings went back to basics in practice to get back on track.
“I want to give Sanford credit, but last week was a weird week for us with injuries (starting slot Cam Slicer broke his ankle in practice) and we had a lot of illness, and I don’t think I prepared them well enough and we didn’t quite respond,” he said. “So this week, we had an extra day (to practice) and we did a lot of fundamental stuff.”
“With the defense, which has been pretty solid for us — and our run defense has been pretty good — we worked on some of those basic fundamental pieces just to get back to being that team again,” Soehren said. “Our interior six guys are just tough.”