Lucas Francis of Lisbon carries the ball on a quarterback keeper during a game against Dirigo in Lisbon on Saturday.
LISBON — The ball was right there, thrown perfectly by Lisbon quarterback Lucas Francis to wide receiver Henry Doyle. But, the first-quarter heave slipped through the first-year football player’s hands, keeping the Class D South high school football game against Dirigo at Thompson Field scoreless in the opening quarter.
On the next Greyhound drive, Francis ran the same play, again lofting a perfectly-placed throw to Doyle, who this time made the catch and turned it into a 53-yard touchdown for the game’s first score.
What followed was a solid Lisbon performance en route to a 34-0 victory over the injury-plagued Cougars on Saturday.
“That play was important and I did it for my team,” said Doyle, who had two catches on the day for 66 yards and two touchdowns. “I just wanted to make up for the drop. Our passing game was important today.”
“We are working with Henry on where he needs to be and consistently run his routes,” Lisbon (5-0) coach Chris Kates said. “He is a good athlete and he is working hard to get better.”
Francis, a first-year quarterback in his own right, had a day, throwing for 170 yards (8-of-13) with two touchdowns and two interceptions.
For Dirigo, it was another contest where a key injury slowed the offense. On the third offensive play for the Cougars, quarterback Alex Gorham was hit hard by Lisbon linebacker Cole Bolduc (seven tackles). He stayed on the ground and was helped to the sideline, forcing Dirigo coach Jim Hersom to turn to his third quarterback this season, Cole Brown.
“We have had these injuries over these last three weeks, and we are just hanging in there and facing that adversity,” Hersom said.
Dirigo was hurt by three turnovers, leading to Lisbon running 70 plays. The Greyhounds possessed the ball for more than 32 minutes.
“I think they’re pretty darn good. To me, they are the best coached team in the league,” Hersom said.
The first quarter turned into a defensive stalemate. Lisbon punted twice before Doyle’s first touchdown catch, while the Lisbon defense permitted just 10 yards.
“That is the best defensive line that we have faced all year,” Kates said. “The score is not indicative of the way their line played. They took us out of our rhythm.”
After Doyle gave Lisbon the 6-0 lead, Brown was intercepted by Issac Burnell. However, Dirigo returned the favor when Cam Kidder picked off a Francis pass and was a Robbie Dick shoe-string tackle away from a pick-six.
“That is what we asked of them,” Hersom said. “We play four freshmen on defense, and our seniors lead by example. We knew we were going to play some physical football today. I am proud of these kids.”
Lisbon began a drive late in the first quarter at its own 25-yard line. A 14-play march followed, with the Greyhounds picking up four first downs before Cam Bourget broke through the Dirigo defense for a 17-yard TD run and a 12-0 Lisbon lead with 7:13 remaining until halftime.
After a three-and-out by the Dirigo (1-4) offense, Lisbon’s next offensive series was finished off when Francis found Doyle for a 13-yard TD strike. Bradley Harriman ran in the 2-point conversion, staking the Greyhounds to a 20-0 halftime lead.
Turnovers slowed both teams in the third quarter. Dirigo’s Justin Dusablon and Liam Burnette each recovered a Lisbon fumble, while Harriman intercepted a pair of Brown passes.
“I really challenged our defense because we hadn’t had a turnover over the last two weeks,” Kates said. “They responded well today against a good football team.”
Lisbon upped its lead to 28-0 when Francis bolted to paydirt from the Dirigo 4, then threw to Doyle for two more points and a 28-0 advantage. Bourget’s second TD run finished the scoring in the fourth quarter.
The Greyhound defense bullied the Cougars up front. Dirigo running back Cooper Chiasson, his shirt covered in dirt, carried the ball 14 times, but netted only 21 tough yards. Bolduc paced the Lisbon defense with seven tackles, while Dakota McIver and Hunter Job each made five stops.
Quentin Penley was solid all day for Dirigo, making a game-high 13 tackles, while Chiasson picked up 11, and Burnette and Kidder seven tackles apiece.
Kates’ only concern leaving the field was the four turnovers his offense committed, especially with the Greyhounds slated to visit Spruce Mountain on Friday (7 p.m.), followed by a big road tilt at undefeated Wells (Oct. 13) and a home matchup with rival Oak Hill to close out the regular season.
“Anytime you run out of the shotgun, you have to take care of the ball and we were sloppy today,” said Kates. “We will be working on that in practice this week.”
Lisbon ran the ball 57 times for 254 yards, led by Francis with 76 yards on 10 lugs and Isaiah Thompson with 59 yards on 10 carries, all in the first half. Bourget (10-51, two TDs) and Harriman (9-36) also contributed. Riley Quatrano had a 56-yard catch and run, while Burnell hauled in a 20-yard reception.