WALES — Titletown strikes again.
Embarrassed by Oak Hill on its home field a fortnight earlier, Dirigo returned the favor Saturday afternoon with a 13-6 shocker in the Western Class C football semifinals.
No. 3 Dirigo (8-2) rode Spencer Trenoweth's second-half touchdown runs of 69 and 52 yards and a tenacious, swarming, resilient defense to its second sectional title game in four seasons.
The Cougars, a fixture in the championship round across all sports in recent years, will travel to No. 1 Winslow next Saturday.
"It's the most sore I've been all year," said Dirigo senior lineman Zack White. "It was a battle out there today."
Dirigo reversed a 33-0 shellacking under the lights in Dixfield, and yes, the difference between the two games could appropriately be expressed as night-and-day.
Oak Hill (8-2) again owned substantial advantages in first downs (15 to 7) and time of possession, and subtracting Trenoweth's two scoring jaunts, total yardage, too.
But the Cougars' defense grew taller as the field shortened, highlighted by a stop on downs at the 4-yard line with 1:46 remaining in the first half to protect a scoreless tie.
"That was the game-changer for sure," Trenoweth said.
Eight other Oak Hill drives died in Dirigo territory, the last when Thomas Barnett knocked down Parker Asselin's pass on fourth-and-9 from the 19 with 1:18 to go.
One quarterback sneak and two kneeldowns by Brett Whittemore sealed it.
"When you're in the playoffs, any time you get in the red zone, you have to execute," Oak Hill coach Stacen Doucette said. "The kids played hard, but Dirigo played harder and they made the plays in the red zone."
Oak Hill struck first, grinding out 37 yards on 10 plays to score on its opening drive of the third quarter.
Asselin (6 for 20, 99 yards) converted fourth-and-6 with a 10-yard toss to Alex Mace and cashed in third-and-10 on Luke Washburn's 13-yard grab.
On yet another third down, Kyle Flaherty barreled in from 3 yards out. Cody Collingwood's extra-point try sailed wide right at the 5:29 mark.
Dirigo needed only two plays to summon its answer. Trenoweth found a seam behind White and hit the jets down the Oak Hill sideline.
"Their front line is huge. I had to get through their front line," Trenoweth said. "Our line was opening huge holes today. Once I got through I didn't look back."
Barnett stuffed Mace on a counter play to force the change of possession that led to Dirigo's second touchdown.
It developed in similar fashion to the first, with Trenoweth locating an open lane before spinning away from a tackler and darting diagonally to daylight.
"I feel like I kind of used the ref on the second one as a blocker," Trenoweth said.
Trenoweth, who became the first 1,000-yard rusher in Dirigo history after converting from receiver this season, gained 121 of his 143 yards on the two scoring plays.
They were the two sticks of dynamite in an otherwise titanic defensive struggle.
Dirigo used a six-man front to slow Oak Hill's unrelenting double wing attack.
Tyler Frost, embroiled in a staggering 16 tackles, forced a fumble that Nelson Pepin recovered to stifle one early Oak Hill drive.
Washburn and Chris Harlow each sacked Whittemore (5 for 9, 57 yards) to keep Dirigo off the board prior to intermission.
Flaherty's fumble recovery put the Raiders in prime position at the Dirigo 26 midway through the second quarter.
Mace (18 carries, 80 yards) moved the chains on one fourth down, but Pepin and Kaine Hutchins collaborated to halt Flaherty (21 carries, 72 yards) for no gain three plays later.
Faced with fourth-and-4, Asselin scrambled to his left before Frost pushed him out of bounds at the 4, two chain links shy of the marker.
"Whenever you can stop that double wing on fourth down, you've done your job and you have to be happy about that," Dirigo coach Dave Crutchfield said.
"I thought that was a major factor in us getting that momentum going into halftime," White said.
White had two big stops of Joel Wells on Oak Hill's final drive, a march that was extended by Washburn's 26-yard grab over the fingertips of two Dirigo defenders on fourth-and-long.
Oak Hill last won a state title in 1982 and was bidding for its first trip to a championship game since 1984.
"I thought the kids brought an energy to the football program this year and worked hard in workouts and in practice and gave it their best effort," Doucette said. "Not just a team effort but a community effort."