TURNER — Fourteen-point swings in two whistles or less are a regular fact of life for Leavitt football.

The latest one helped the Hornets avoid another playoff scare.

Cape Elizabeth appeared ticketed for a tying touchdown in the second quarter Friday night when Christian Lavallee’s second effort left the ball on the ground and in the hands of Leavitt’s Nate Rousseau.

One snap and one crunching block by 6-foot-7, 285-pound Matt Powell later, Conor O’Malley was in the clear for a 78-yard touchdown and No. 1 Leavitt was on its way to a 21-9 Western Class C semifinal at Libby Field.

“It was just a huge hole, and all I had to do was beat the safety,” O’Malley said. “It left little work for me.”

After making three consecutive trips to the Pine Tree Conference championship game from 2009 to 2011, Leavitt (9-0) will host the Campbell Conference final for the first time in 15 years.

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The game with third-seeded Spruce Mountain (7-2) is expected to be played on Friday night. Leavitt defeated Spruce, 25-6, at Livermore Falls on Oct. 25.

O’Malley, who sat out that final game of the regular season with a leg injury, returned with 13 carries for 153 yards.

Nate Coombs caught a 33-yard touchdown pass from Billy Bedard, who later ran one in from 5 yards out for the Hornets.

Leavitt’s defense served up a shutout until midway through the fourth quarter. But when the Hornets couldn’t move the ball after Powell and Scott Sleeper stuffed Lavallee for a goal-line stand, punter Mitchel Davis took an intentional safety.

No. 5 Cape (6-4) took the free kick and drove to its only touchdown of the night, a 2-yard plunge by quarterback Noah Wolfinger with 3:19 left. Leavitt recovered the ensuing onside kick and ran out the clock.

“I thought we played well up front and limited what they got there and didn’t let them hold the ball for long,” Leavitt coach Mike Hathaway said.

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Leavitt held Cape to 47 yards in the first half, but no play loomed larger than the fumble recovery.

The Capers had charged inside the Hornets 20 with the help of Lavallee’s blocked punt, then a facemask penalty on the next play from scrimmage.

“It’s always nice to capitalize on mistakes,” Coombs said. “When it comes to the playoffs, any one play can turn a game. It could be on special teams. It could be a fumble. It could be anything.”

O’Malley followed Powell to paydirt on the flip side.

“I had a nice down block on the tackle. I just pushed him outside. He tripped and I just laid right on top of him,” Powell said. “That gave us a lot of momentum. They had the ball down almost in our red zone territory. Just to get the ball back, that was big.”

Cape’s two remaining drives of the half were three-and-outs, the latter punctuated by Will Parkin’s sack of Wolfinger.

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Leavitt twice stopped Cape on fourth down in Hornets territory in the first quarter. Sandwiched between those two series, the Hornets scored on their opening drive.

Bedard, a sophomore who usually plays quarterback in the wildcat formation, lined up in the slot on third-and-13. He took a toss from Tyler Chicoine, applied the brakes and dropped the option pass into Coombs’ hands in the end zone. The first of Matt Thibodeau’s three extra points made it 7-0.

Leavitt threatened to put it away by chewing up the first six minutes of the third quarter. After gains of 13 and 14 yards by Rousseau on consecutive plays, however, Cape’s defense toughened inside the 5.

Ethan Murphy snuffed out a reverse to Adam Poulin on fourth down — the same play that infamously went awry in Leavitt’s quarterfinal loss to Belfast a year ago.

“The defense getting that stop and then us coming right back, that took a lot of wind out their sails,” Hathaway said. “Then even though we didn’t score on that first drive after halftime, it just took a lot of clock. We kept the field position and scored after.”

Indeed, after a Cape punt to midfield, the Hornets needed only six plays to finish what they previously started. Chicoine’s 37-yard strike to Poulin set up the Bedard TD run.

Poulin also was instrumental in containing Murphy, Cape’s big-play receiver, to 27 yards on four catches. Jack Drinan led the Capers on the ground with 20 carries for 53 yards.

“They got a lot better,” said Coombs, whose Hornets beat the Capers 26-7 nine weeks ago. “They’re hard-nosed and they like to run the football.”

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