LIVERMORE FALLS — Dirigo had to figure it had taken Livermore Falls’ best shot in the first half of Friday’s Campbell Conference tilt and still feel pretty good about carrying a two-point cushion into the intermission.

And yet the Cougars weren’t about to see if their unusual formula for success in the first half would carry over into the second. 

Led by Spencer Ross’ 281 all-purpose yards and three touchdowns, Dirigo scored four unanswered touchdowns in the second half to pull away in a convincing 49-19 victory over Livermore Falls at a drizzly Griffin Field.

Dirigo (6-0) now stands as the lone unbeaten team in Campbell Conference Class C.  Livermore Falls dropped to 5-1.

Despite running just 10 offensive plays to the Andies’ 45 in the first half, the Cougars used big plays and turnovers to take the narrow halftime lead and then used more big plays and a defensive adjustment to blow the game open.

“It was still real close at halftime and we knew they were a quick-hitting team, so it was kind of scary being up by two points,” said senior QB Nic Crutchfield, who ran for two touchdown in the second half onslaught. “We knew we had to strike fast. We didn’t want a team like that to hang around just two points behind.”

The Cougars immediately got the quick strike they were looking for when Ross’ 66-yard kickoff return to open the second half set up a 4-yard TD run by Crutchfield to make it 21-12. After the Cougars held the Andies three-and-out for the first time all night, Ross (seven carries, 181 yards) took the Cougars’ next play from scrimmage 65 yards to paydirt. Crutchfield added a 43-yard score later in the quarter to salt the game away.

“I haven’t really had it kicked straight to me all year,” Ross said of the kickoff return. “We’ve been tossing it back to me, so when I got it kicked right to me, I was just able to sprint and find all the holes.”

The Andies’ found plenty of holes against Dirigo’s seven-man defensive front in the first half, holding the ball for 18:30 of the 24 minutes. Shawn Whiting capped a 15-play opening drive with a 6-yard TD pass to Alex Rose on 4th-and-4

But the 6-0 lead proved to be short-lived. Crutchfield ran an option on Dirigo’s first play from scrimmage and, just as Chandler White was dragging him down from behind at the line of scrimmage, he pitched it left to Ross, who cut back to the middle of the field near the 50 and scampered 65 yards to his first touchdown.

“Everybody picked up their blocks and I saw an opening, so I cut back (to the middle),” Ross said. “Nic made an awesome pitch and then everyone made their blocks.”

Ethan Hutchins’ 44-yard return on the ensuing kickoff shortened the Andies’ next drive, a nine-play 51-yard journey topped off by a 17-yard TD run up the middle by White (36 carries, 244 yards, two TDs). 

Things looked even more promising for the Andies when Mike Armstrong recovered a Crutchfield fumble at Dirigo’s 19. But on 4th-and-5, Alex Miele picked off a Whiting pass at his own 9, tight-roped the sideline in front of the Livermore Falls bench and eventually broke free for a 91-yard interception return that gave the Cougars their two-point lead.

“We made too many mistakes and poor tackling,” Livermore Falls coach Brad Bishop said. “We had turnovers and they had some big plays. They have big-play capability. That’s part of football.”

The Cougars switched to an eight-man front in the second half and had more success stopping the run. They forced the Andies to punt on their first drive. On their second, Tyler Chiasson and Arik Fenstermacher led a brigade that stuffed White for no gain on 4th-and-1.

“It’s a win,” said Crutchfield, who had an interception. “It’s not a state championship or a playoff game so it’s just another win.”

“But it’s nice,” he added.

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