WALES — Parker Asselin’s words of inspiration to his teammates before Oak Hill’s game-winning drive were borrowed from his quarterback coach.

His poise and precision during the drive were strictly his own.

Asselin directed the second-seeded Raiders 60 yards on three plays, all passes, in 49 seconds to tie the game on a 37-yard touchdown pass to Alex Mace with 1:29 remaining. Junior kicker Adam Merrill coolly split the uprights with his extra point and Ryan Stevens’ interception clinched a thrilling 21-20 win over third-seeded Lisbon in an all-time classic Western D semifinal Saturday.

Oak Hill (8-2) will host No. 4 Dirigo (7-3) in the regional final next Saturday. The Raiders edged the Cougars, 8-6, on Sept. 13 in Dixfield.

“That’s our secret play. Everyone did their job. It was amazing. The best feeling I ever had,” said Mace, who had two touchdown catches to go with 81 yards rushing.

The Raiders weren’t feeling so great after Lisbon recovered a fumble at Oak Hill’s 40, then took the lead on Joe Philbrick’s eight-yard run. Jordon Torres’ two-point conversion made it 20-14 Greyhounds (7-3) with 2:18 to play.

Meanwhile, Oak Hill QB coach David Chase prepared Asselin (5-for-8, 83 yards, 2 TDs) for the task at hand.

“Coach Chase pulled me aside and said, ‘Hey, when you get back in the huddle, tell them we’re going to drive down the field and score a touchdown,'” Asselin said. “That’s what I did, and we scored a touchdown.”

Starting at his own 40, Asselin completed a 10-yard pass to Luke Washburn, then found Mace for a 13-yard gain. On the next snap, he rolled right and hit Mace, running a wheel route, in stride for the score.

“I saw the corner bite on the post, and so I knew the wheel was going to be open and it was a touchdown if I could make my throw,” Asselin said.

“That’s what you expect of a four-year starter,” Oak Hill coach Stacen Doucette said. “Parker has done everything we’ve asked from him as a quarterback. You can’t ask for a better leader.”

Lisbon has a great leader of its own in senior running back Quincy Thompson, and in his first game back since suffering a serious elbow injury three weeks ago, he made his presence known quickly.

Running out of the wildcat formation on the Greyhounds’ first play from scrimmage, Thompson (25 carries, 153 yards, 2 TDs) ran left, got a crunching block from Joe Philbrick to seal off the outside, and sprinted 73 yards for a touchdown.

“Boy, I was happy to see Quincy get that run in there,” Lisbon coach Dick Mynahan said. “It was a lot of therapy for him to get back here on the football field so it was really nice to see him turn in a nice run like that.”

In a play that would later prove critical, Oak Hill stopped Jordon Torres (14 carries, 94 yards) just before he was able to get to the left pylon on the two-point conversion attempt to kept the score 6-0.

Oak Hill, which two weeks earlier defeated the Thompson-less Greyhounds, 33-14, pretty much shut down the wildcat after that, holding the Greyhounds to just two first downs the remainder of the half.

“We just stuck to our game plan and the kids hunkered down and we just played better defense,” Doucette said. “Quincy’s a great athlete. He’s going to get his runs.”

It took a quarter for the Raiders to get their offense going against an equally stout Lisbon defense.

A 52-yard run by Mace on the first play of the second quarter finally moved them into Lisbon territory. On 3rd-and-7 from the 17, Asselin rolled right and fired just before reaching the sideline. Mace somehow got behind the defense and made a leaping catch in the end zone. Merrill’s extra point made it 7-6.

“Actually, I was going to the sideline and I was running out of room, so I had to back up,” Mace said. “Parker, he backed up as well and then made a perfect pass.”

The game turned into a battle of field position for the next two quarters. A Kyle Tervo interception gave the Raiders a legitimate shot at adding to their lead just before halftime, but Lisbon’s defense thwarted two Asselin passes into the end zone as time ran out.

The Greyhounds kept the Raiders backed up deep in their own end for much of the third quarter, but Oak Hill’s defense responded with stops at its own 17 and 29 to preserve the lead.

Oak Hill finally got the break it needed when Asselin (12 carries, 77 yards) ran a keeper from his own 13, got lost in a sea of humanity in the middle of the field, then broke away down the left sideline for 83 yards before being tracked down at the 4. Three plays later, he called his own number again from the 1 for a touchdown on the first play of the fourth quarter. Merrill’s kick made it 14-6.

“The linemen were driving their feet. I was right behind them and all of a sudden I could see the end zone and my eyes got about this big,” Asselin said. 

Lisbon responded with a 14-play, 79-yard drive, converting on 4th-and-11 and then 4th-and-inches before Thompson, his injured right arm heavily wrapped, scored from the 1 with 6:01 to go. Trailing by two, the Greyhounds went for two again but Mace broke up Kyle Bourget’s pass into the end zone to maintain the lead.

The Greyhounds quickly got another chance when Brandon Laurelez recovered a fumble at Oak Hill’s 38 with 4:53 remaining. Five plays later, Philbrick plowed in on a misdirection play. Torres beat the defense to the corner this time, and Lisbon had the lead.

“The thinking was we should have taken another minute-and-a-half, two minutes,” Mynahan said, tongue-in-cheek. “We knew their passing game was good and they have a senior quarterback that sits there, takes his time and finds the open receiver. I mean, that’s what seniors do. They made the plays when they had to. That’s great play-making, great coaching.”

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