LIVERMORE FALLS — It was the worst-case scenario in a big football game on a bitterly cold night. Facing fourth-and-9 from his own 13-yard line, Leavitt punter Mitchel Davis’ fingers couldn’t quite get a grip on the ball without the moment’s hesitation that can lead to disaster.

In the middle of his life flashing before his eyes, Davis had a moment of clarity.

“I was scared. I kind of bobbled the ball, so I looked up and (Spruce Mountain rushers) were turned around,” Davis said. “I had running on my mind, so I just took off.”

Spruce Mountain took down Davis, but not before he lunged a half-yard past the stick for the first down. That triggered a 12-play, 88-yard drive, capped by sophomore Billy Bedard’s 14-yard touchdown run. It fattened a one-touchdown lead to two and sent undefeated Leavitt to a 25-6 win at Griffin Field.

And if he had been tackled for anything less than nine yards?

“I was just going to get up and keep running,” Davis quipped.

“He would have been walking home and to every game after that,” senior running back Nate Rousseau added.

Well, at least he would get a break next week. Leavitt (8-0) completed its fourth undefeated regular season in five years, and as the top seed in the six-team Western Class C playoffs, the Hornets will receive a bye in the quarterfinals.

Spruce Mountain (6-2) expects to be in a coin flip with Yarmouth for the third seed. Regardless of how that turns out, the Phoenix will host a first-round contest next Friday night.

The highly anticipated showdown of top-flight teams 15 miles apart turned messy. There were a combined 10 turnovers, six by Spruce Mountain.

“You can’t give a team like that second chances, and we gave them third and fourth chances,” Spruce Mountain coach Walter Polky said. “I was happy with the way we played defense tonight. We played tough and tackled hard. That’s a good team. You can’t have them pinned and let them out.”

In addition to Bedard’s touchdown and 109 yards on 14 tries, Rousseau rolled up 31 carries for 158 yards and two second-quarter scores.

Nate Coombs (16 carries, 90 yards) capped the scoring with a 7-yard TD run for Leavitt, which produced all of its 411 yards on the ground. They did so without senior tailback Conor O’Malley, who rested a knee injury.

“That (balance) has been the game plan for the last couple weeks,” Leavitt coach Mike Hathaway said. “Nate Rousseau has been phenomenal. Adam Poulin gave us some great lugs. Billy Bedard came in and played out of his mind. Nate Coombs took some direct snaps. We’re trying to shuffle it around and give teams some different looks.”

Spruce Mountain scored first on a 30-yard completion from Peter Theriault to Matt Vigue, but the Hornets played lockdown defense on the two slippery Phoenix juniors for the remainder of the night.

Leavitt limited Vigue to 17 yards on 12 carries and habitually booted away from him on punts and kickoffs.

“After that one screen pass we made some adjustments, some different checks on defense and that was basically it,” Leavitt linebacker Levi Morin said.

Clay Rowland intercepted Theriault, who was 6-for-17 for 80 yards through the air and kept it 14 times for 61 rushing yards.

Davis, Scott Sleeper, Matt Child and Nick Nason all recovered fumbles for the Hornets.

Turnovers weren’t a factor in a clean 11-play, 73-yard march to Leavitt’s first score. Rousseau, Bedard and Poulin divided the work in healthy slices, with Rousseau applying the finishing touch from three yards out. Matt Thibodeau’s extra point made it a 7-6 Leavitt lead with 10:07 left in the half.

Leavitt scooped up a Spruce Mountain miscue at midfield on the next Phoenix play. Rousseau had seven carries on the ensuing short drive, including the 5-yard scoring jaunt.

“It was absolutely amazing. Running behind these guys, I can count on them every single game,” Rousseau said of the Leavitt line that includes Morin, Nason, Child, Matt Powell and Will Parkin, with Davis at tight end.

Davis’ third-quarter improvisation came after Anthony York and Austin Couture combined for a sack of Tyler Chicoine that appeared to give the Phoenix a world of momentum.

Spruce Mountain also had an apparent long touchdown run by Andrew Darling on the first play of the second half wiped out by a holding call.

“Maybe it’s a 13-13 game at that point and who knows?” Polky said. “They’re a senior-laden team. They play hard. They play smart. I’m happy with how we played. We had our chances. We just couldn’t capitalize tonight.”

[email protected]


Only subscribers are eligible to post comments. Please subscribe or to participate in the conversation. Here’s why.

Use the form below to reset your password. When you've submitted your account email, we will send an email with a reset code.