FARMINGTON — Call this the Mt. Blue Homecoming Miracle.
Heartbroken by three Brewer touchdowns in a six-minute span, the Cougars’ hopes of hosting a Pine Tree Conference football playoff game had all but evaporated. Do-everything tailback and linebacker J.T. Williams stood watching helplessly on crutches, ice soothing his reinjured left knee.
It looked like a sorrowful Saturday afternoon at Caldwell Field until three consecutive, improbable pass completions saved the day.
The last one came at the final gun, an 18-yard strike from Ryan Pratt to Nate Pratt-Holt in the end zone. Anthony Franchetti split the uprights with his extra point to give Mt. Blue a stunning 37-36 victory.
Dylan Severance scored the go-ahead touchdown for Brewer on a 14-yard run. Logan Rogerson rushed for the two-point conversion to make it 22 consecutive points and a 36-30 Witches’ lead.
Christian Whitney’s ensuing kick return gave Mt. Blue (4-3) the ball at its own 40 with 35 seconds remaining. After a running play for no gain, two pass attempts from Pratt to Pratt-Holt fell incomplete.
Down to his team’s possible final play, Pratt located Pratt-Holt for a gain of 25 to move the chains with 13 seconds left. The next connection went to Whitney for 17, giving Mt. Blue one final shot with four seconds left.
Pratt rolled to his right and threw into a sea of hands, where Pratt-Holt — the reigning Class A triple jump champion — rose above the fray and answered the Cougars’ prayers.
After a Brewer timeout, Franchetti, who was 3-for-4 on previous extra points plus a field goal earlier in the game, nailed the kick to touch off a wild celebration.
Mt. Blue led 30-14 and was in complete command when Williams didn’t immediately get to his feet after a carry on the next-to-last play of the third quarter.
Williams, who sat out one full game after spraining his left knee against Messalonskee, did not return. He had rushed for 260 yards and all four Mt. Blue touchdowns to that point.
Brewer (3-4) bounced back in a hurry.
First, fullback Zach Duncan scored on Rogerson’s pass from 8 yards out. Pratt and Bubba Harris stopped the ensuing two-point rush to keep it a two-possession game, 30-20, with 6:39 to go,
The Witches then played an onside kick perfectly, with Tyler Hafford smothering it after two awkward bounces. Severance plowed through the middle for a 29-yard score on the very next play. The PAT rush made it a two-point deficit on the heels of two touchdowns in 10 seconds.
Brewer kicked deep this time, and its defense responded with a three-and-out. The Witches drove from near midfield at the 4:30 mark, converting a pair of third downs. After being set back by a holding call, Brewer got 28 yards from Rogerson’s option keeper on the ensuing play to fuel the drive.
Mt. Blue jumped out to a 13-0 lead on two Williams TDs. The Cougars answered Rogerson’s TD pass to Hafford with Franchetti’s 25-yard field goal just before the half for a 16-8 lead.
Brewer drove to the Mt. Blue 5 with its opening possession of the second half, but two fumbles slowed the march. Though the Witches recovered both, an incomplete pass ultimately turned over the ball on downs at the Cougars’ 10.
Williams rambled 78 yards for his third score and a 23-8 lead.
The Cougars held on downs again at their 38, but Williams coughed up the ball and Austin Pagnozzi recovered, leading to a 22-yard TD strike from Rogerson to Hafford.
Ben Nile and McKinley Goozey combined to stop the two-point rush, and Williams redeemed himself with a 58-yard jaunt to set up a 2-yard score.
Mt. Blue clinched a playoff berth. It needs to beat Skowhegan at home next week to clinch a top-four seed and a home quarterfinal game on Oct. 31.