BRUNSWICK — Coming into the season, Tom Hanson was planning on being the backup for Brunswick High School starting quarterback Pearson Cost. Fate stepped in, as Cost was injured during the preseason, and Dragons handed the junior the reigns to lead the run-oriented team, with running backs Alex Bandouveres and Will Bessey expected to share the load.
Friday, in a homecoming matchup with Mt. Blue, Hanson showed that he can do more than just hand the ball to his backs, tossing two long touchdown passes in Brunswick’s 35-7 win.
The Dragons are 5-0 and slated to visit Messalonskee next Friday, while the Cougars dropped to 2-3 and visit Gardiner on Friday.
“We have been making big plays in the passing game all year long,” said Brunswick coach Dan Cooper after his team outgained Mt. Blue 280-74 in the first half and took a 21-0 lead to the half. “They were putting 10 players up close all game long, and every time we completed a pass it was a good play. We do try to wear teams down with a ground and pound offense. But, we can do other things as well.”
Hanson hooked up with Bandouveres for a 57-yard TD strike late in the first quarter for a 14-0 lead, and his 73-yard bomb to Bessey with 53 seconds left until intermission seemed to take the steam out of the Cougars.
“I am getting a lot more comfortable with the offense, especially when my offensive line makes nice clean blocks so I can get outside,” said Hanson, who was 3-for-4 in the air for 136 yards in the first half.
“He is getting better every week, and we are starting to become a team that can threaten the whole field with the run and the pass,” said Cooper of his offense.
Mt. Blue coach Jim Aylward was not pleased with his team, which gained just 182 yards on 53 offensive plays, with most of the yards coming in the fourth quarter when the outcome had already been decided.
“I am getting tired that if you could take five or six plays out of a game that we would be right there,” said Aylward. “They are a good team, especially when you allow points on big plays in the first half.
“It is time for us to grow up, toughen up. We knew the past couple weeks were going to be tough, but we have to get better. We coach to watch these kids get better, and it is time to stop making excuses and to get better.”
Bessey breaks one
Mt. Blue picked up a first down on its first offensive series, as Cougars quarterback Ryan Pratt (9-for-18, 62 yards) completed an 8-yard pass on third down to Nate Pratt-Holt (four receptions, 30 yards). But, a penalty and three consecutive hard tackles by Bandouveres ended the drive and forced a punt.
The Dragons picked up two straight penalties on their first drive, but on the second Bessey went up the middle for 75 yards to paydirt. Evan Murray kicked the first of five extra points for a 7-0 Brunswick lead with 3:48 left in the opening quarter.
Alex Gilbert returned the ensuing kickoff 42 yards to the B-41, but the Dragons refused to budge up front and forced another punt.
“The whole line did well and gave it 110 percent,” said Brunswick defensive tackle Logan Ouellette, who had eight tackles, including a sack. “We are doing whatever we can to stop them. We have played soft at times this year, but our coaches have told us to do the best that we can, and we have come together better every game.”
Hanson dropped back to throw his first pass on Brunswick’s next drive and led Bandouveres perfectly, with the big back rumbling 57 yards to the end zone for a 14-0 lead.
The Mt. Blue defense forced a turnover in the second quarter, with JT Williams stripping Bessey, with Cougars cornerback Noah Barr jumping on the loose ball.
But, once again the Dragons defense allowed little, forcing the fourth Mt. Blue punt of the half.
“We have given up big plays in every game this year, but today their biggest play was about 10 yards,” said Cooper of his defense. “We just didn’t give up big plays, and that bodes well for us.”
A Hanson to Bessey pass play went 73 yards right before the half, and Hanson snuck in on a 3-yard run on the opening drive of the third quarter for a 28-0 lead.
“It is important to be balanced,” said Hanson after his team finished with 413 total yards of offense. “We have had games where we haven’t been able to throw the ball well. But, when we are able to stretch the field, we are a brand new team.”
Back-up Brunswick quarterback Jesse Devereaux completed a 35-yard pass to Bandouveres in the fourth to set up Devereaux’s 33-yard TD run. The Mt. Blue backups completed the scoring with 26 seconds left as running back Noah Carleton (six rushed, 38 yards, TD) weaved his way for a 30-yard TD run.
Gilbert chipped in 37 yards on 16 carries for the Cougars, while Christian Whitney hauled in two Pratt passes for 19 yards. On defense, Williams had a team-high eight tackles.
Bandouveres made 10 solo tackles for Brunswick, with Kyle Maillet adding seven and Patrick Green five.