BIDDEFORD – In the highest-scoring Lobster Bowl in history, Jared Turcotte’s star burned brightest.
The Lewiston tailback ran for 186 yards and two touchdowns and caught another scoring pass as the East rolled to a 47-27 win before a capacity Waterhouse Field crowd of about 7,000 in the 18th Maine Shrine Lobster Bowl Classic.
Turcotte, who is headed to Orono to begin his playing career at the University of Maine a week from Sunday, was named the East MVP. Portland QB Chris Treister, who is also headed to Maine, picked up MVP honors for the West with one touchdown apiece passing and running.
All proceeds from the game go to the Shriners Children’s Hospitals and Burn Institutes.
The West now leads the series all-time, 14-4, but the East has won four of the last five. That includes the highest game in the game’s history before last night, a 55-8 East triumph.
Turcotte tallied 130 of his rushing yards in the second half as the East fought off a third quarter West rally by pulling away on touchdown runs of 13 and 1 yard by the Fitzpatrick Trophy winner.
“I never had an offensive line this big or this athletic, ever,” said Turcotte, who helped the East roll up 330 yards on the ground. “Even though they have bigger defensive linemen, we were so much quicker, we could get to the box faster.”
“Jared had a great performance. He’s a very gifted athlete that works very hard and takes great pride in what he does,” said East coach Mike Marston of Skowhegan. “
Oxford Hills’ Ethan Sutton added a 50-yard TD run on an end-around and also had a TD catch in the first half.
The two teams combined for over 850 yards of total offense. Most expected the East to pound the ball on the ground behind Turcotte and Winslow speedster Justin Lindie (59 yards rushing), but Cony’s Gabe Hinds and and Lucas Thomas of Messalonskee were a combined 7-of-9 for 114 yards and three TDs in the first half.
Turcotte had a hand in setting up all four of the East’s first-half scores. His strip and fumble recovery on a punt gave the East the ball at the West 33 late in the first quarter. Three plays later, Thomas hit Sutton over the middle on a crossing route. The Oxford Hills speedster raced for the East sideline, then turned it upfield and hit the right front pylon for the East’s first lead. The two-point conversion failed.
“That was a backside post,” Sutton said. “He was looking for me and he hit me right in stride. I saw a guy coming close to me but I just burned him.”
The West took its only lead on a 44-yard pass from Treister to Paul Hinmen. Treister’s PAT made it 7-6, but Turcotte got the momentum back in the East’s favor with a 50-yard kickoff return and they started from the West 32. Travis Lee of Belfast put them in front for good with a 21-yard TD reception from Hinds.
The West had Turcotte bottled up pretty good on the ground in the first half, but they paid for keying on him when Thomas faked a handoff to hit, then lofted a 20-yard pass to the right to make it 19-7. On the East’s next possession, Turcotte ran the ball seven straight times for 56 yards before Lee scored from a yard out to make it a 26-7 lead at halftime.
A fired-up West squad made a game of it briefly by scoring on its first two possessions of the third quarter. Treister scored from 11 yards out, then after a defensive stop, Deering’s Brian Sandora pounded it in from two yards out to make it 26-21.But the East pulled in the fourth as Turcotte, Sutton and then Turcotte scored on three consecutive possessions.
“The thing you’ve got to remember when you walk away from this game is the experience,” said West coach Matt Perkins of Windham. “You hope the kids enjoy the game and remember the cause.”