BETHEL — Young teams make mistakes.
It comes with the territory with a fledgling program.
But it was three straight miscues that turned the tide Saturday for the Telstar football team.
In a mistake-filled game with Old Orchard Beach, the Rebels gave the Seagulls the prime opportunity they needed in the fourth quarter.
A bad snap on a punt set OOB up for the go-ahead score. The Seagulls padded the lead but had to fend off a Rebels' rally late in a 20-12 win over Telstar.
"Turnovers and penalties changed the game to their advantage," said Telstar coach Tim O'Connor. "On paper, we were pretty even, but a couple turnovers or a couple of bounces going our way might have been the difference in the game."
The teams combined for 12 turnovers, seven for OOB and five for Telstar. There was also 130 yards in penalties. Telstar had 75 of them.
"You find a way," said OOB coach Dean Plante. "I credit the kids for this, finding a way in the second half. It seemed we had to overcome ourselves. Every time we turned the tide, we gave it back."
The biggest swing came late in the third. Telstar (0-3) was forced to punt after failing to take advantage of a Will Lyman interception, one of four on the day for the Rebels.
Telstar was penalized when it took the field on fourth down and didn't have a punter. Then a motion penalty backed them up even further. Then on top of that, a bad snap sailed over the head of the punter.
That set OOB (2-1) up at the Telstar 23. The Rebels aided OOB with an offside penalty that moved the Seagulls inside the 10. From there, it took Joe Gildard three tries. He bounced off tacklers and scored from the 3 with 11:14 left to make it 14-6.
"We talked about playing sound D and not giving up any big plays out of mental mistakes like we did in the first half," said Plante. "If we did that, we'd be in better shape. We felt they'd maybe make the first mistake, and they did."
Telstar had two chances to answer. Austin Ryerson recovered an OOB fumble, but Telstar fumbled it right back. Then Nick Mills recovered another OOB fumble, but Devin Trumpler intercepted a Telstar pass on the next play.
OOB cashed in on that in two plays later when Gildard took it in from the 2 with 4:49 left for a 20-6 lead.
"We felt if they got a big play after we got up two, they wouldn't get two big plays," said Plante. "We felt pretty comfortable up two."
Telstar got one back when Mills took a screen pass 57 yards with 4:17 left. That got the Rebels within 20-12.
Telstar stopped OOB on its next possession and got the ball back with 1:46 remaining at their own 23. Telstar got a first down but watched the drive stall and end with a sack on fourth-and-11 from the 34.
"I was proud of my team because they didn't give up," said O'Connor. "They were down 20-6 and did come back and score another touchdown. We didn't give up."
Mills finished with 106 yards on 20 carriers. OOB was led by Gildard's 72 yards on 25 carries while Bryan Roberts added 63 yards on 18 carries.
OOB took the early lead with a 37-yard pass play. Matt Parks found Gildard behind three defenders for the score with 6:08 left in the first. It was the only pass OOB completed all day.
Telstar tied it with 19 seconds left in the first. Cameron Pike broke free for a 27-yard scamper to tie it 6-6.
As the game remained tied, Telstar could sense the opportunity. As the mistakes mounted in the second half, the Rebels composure began to unravel.
"When both teams are tied 6-6, it's anybody's game," said O'Connor. "That's what we told the kids at halftime. But when you get down by two, it's a little harder."