DIXFIELD — With the jumble of teams jockeying for position in Class D South this season, there was plenty of incentive for Dirigo and Spruce Mountain to step up and play with a purpose Friday.
A pair of rushing touchdowns by Logan Smith and Brett Frey in the first half helped Spruce Mountain along, and the Phoenix defense bent but didn’t break, stopping three Dirigo red zone attempts to hold on for a 21-12 win over the Cougars at Harlow Park.
Spruce Mountain held a 14-12 lead and Dirigo had driven inside the red zone, but on fourth and 21, Kayle Stewart intercepted Couger freshman quarterback Cole Brown at the 2-yard line. On the previous play, Brett Hunt sacked Brown.
“We hadn’t executed as well in the second half (Dirigo switched to 6-man front), like we had in the first half,” Spruce Mountain coach David Frey said. “But, those three big stops in the red zone were big. Especially the one at the end.”
Each teams had won respective season openers, however, the teams suffered blowout losses last week. So, they needed to redeem themselves and get back on track.
Dirigo (1-2) came out reinvigorated and scored on the opening drive in the second half. Senior Cam Turner ran a power play in for a 4-yard TD. Turner had picked up three first downs, including a pass from Brown (3 of 8 for 60 yards, int.), during the 70-yard drive. The conversion try was stuffed by Phoenix tackle Trent Tibbetts.
“We moved the ball through out the second half. But, it’s too bad that we couldn’t punch it in,” Dirigo coach Jim Hersom said.
The Cougars’ defense had earned its own red zone stop in the final minute of the second quarter.
“That was a big stop,” Hersom added.
Spruce Mountain (2-1) used its huge offensive line to chew up yardage in the first half. On its first posession, Logan Smith raced around the right side for a 21-yard TD. Fullback Tate Walton burst up middle for 41 yards.
The teams traded punts and Frey called his own number to score a 3-yarder. Stewart 134 yards rushed the conversion for a 14-0 lead.
“We used sweeps and drive.” the quarterback said. “Coach (Chris) Collins changed blocking assignments.”
Cooper Chiasson was a standout, gaining 157 yards and making 12 tackles and Quentin Penley added nine tackles. Jack Lavorgna had a blocked punt and Cam Kidder made a TD-saving tackle.
“The kids didn”t give up,” Hersom said. “They hung in there and did the job.”