TURNER — Opening night mistakes. State championship game drama and intensity. Mutual respect that will last a lifetime.

High school football returned with an incomparable flourish Friday night at Libby Field, where Cape Elizabeth, a team with legitimate Class C championship aspirations, knocked off reigning king Leavitt, 35-34, in an overtime, three-hour donnybrook.

After throwing a miraculous, 61-yard touchdown pass to sophomore Ben Ekedahl with eight seconds left in regulation, senior quarterback Noah Wolfinger hit junior Justin Guerette with a 10-yard strike on Cape’s first play of overtime.

Leavitt got its chance from the 10 and also needed only one play to score, a connection between juniors Levi Craig and Julian Kirouac.

Kirouac’s stutter-step into the end zone appeared to produce the winning two-point conversion, but the Hornets were flagged for an illegal block in the back.

After the assessment of a 10-yard penalty and a timeout, Wolfinger picked off Craig’s conversion pass attempt to clinch it for the Capers.


Deep breath.

“Wow. Wow. I don’t think there’s a team I respect more than the Leavitt Hornets. My brother (Ezra) played them in the state final and wasn’t able to do it. They  were a great team. They’ve got a great team right now,” Wolfinger said. “Coming up here, being able to win with last year’s playoff loss and being able to win it for the seniors who graduated last year, there’s no words to express it.”

Wolfinger also had a 90-yard interception return for a touchdown and rushed for a 1-yard score.

Both teams appeared to have it won in regulation.

Cape’s Ryan Weare stopped Craig on a quarterback keeper to take possession on downs at the Capers’ 34 with 3:07 left. Leavitt had exhausted its supply of timeouts, so Cape needed only one first down to close it out at 21-20.

Leavitt held, giving itself the chance to field a punt and put together a miracle drive with under a minute left. Those chances improved dramatically when Mitchel Davis sidestepped blocker Jack Drinan and swatted down Wolfinger’s punt.


“I played in one game like this, Biddeford-South Portland, but that’s about it,” Cape coach Aaron Filieo said. “That was pretty good. It had the sloppiness of an opening game, but it also showed the character, talent and drive of both programs.”

Leavitt took over at the Cape 24. After two overthrows, Craig (8-for-23, 138 yards) hit Isaiah Calder for 10 yards to move the chains.

Craig’s next throw was a beauty, caught in stride by Gabe Seeley for his second TD of the night and the would-be game-winner. Kirouac (10 rushes, 122 yards) ran in the two-point conversion, and Leavitt led by seven with 17 seconds to go.

The Hornets lapsed into what was supposed to be a prevent defense, but Wolfinger somehow found Ekedahl in single coverage on a slant-and-go.

“It’s one of those things when you’ve got some new guys in there that haven’t had many reps,” Leavitt coach Mike Hathaway said. “We were a little banged up, down two guys. We had some backup guys in there and they did great things all game. It’s just unfortunate.”

Wolfinger shook off his favorite target, Ethan Murphy, in the four-receiver set.


“I looked over at Murph, and he gets a lot of respect because he’s a great receiver in this league,” Wolfinger said. “We have a great new guy, a sophomore who nobody knows about, but I guess they know about him now. He made an incredible catch. We work on a stumble drill every day in practice, and to see it pay off when he brought it to the house, that switched the pendulum into our favor.”

Ekedahl, who also went 5-for-5 on extra point kicks, nearly tripped after catching the ball, but when he gained his balance he was two steps behind the secondary.

“There was a lineman on me, so I knew he was probably goigng to throw to me,” Ekedahl said. “It was an unbelievable pass. We thought it was over, but we never gave up.”

Tied 7-7 at the half, Leavitt adjusted with a combination of quick throws and option tosses and appeared to take command.

Out of the locker room, consecutive runs of 22 yards by Kirouac, 28 by Craig and 15 by Kirouac gave the Hornets the lead in exactly a minute.

“We found a couple things at halftime we could do,” Hathaway said. “I thought we got our feet under us a little bit. We’ve got to finish them.”


Leavitt drove and was poised to go up two scores when a low snap led to a rushed throw. Wolfinger stepped in front of it and went the distance. Ekedahl’s boot tied the game.

“He played out of his mind,” Filieo said. “Noah is a tremendous leader, tremendous football player, tremendous kid. He just loves the game of football and loves his team.”

Wolfinger was 7-for-18 for 136 yards through the air. Drinan carried 26 times for 139 yards.

“They did a great job moving me out of the pocket and making me uncomfortable,” Wolfinger said. “They hit me pretty good when I threw a pick. I didn’t have my best throwing night, but it turned around when it counted.”

Christian Lavallee (2-yard run for Cape) and Kirouac (35 yards after a Chad Morin interception) exchanged first-half touchdowns.

Craig hit Seeley for a 46-yard score on the final play of the third quarter to give Leavitt a 20-14 lead. A two-point pass fell incomplete.

Wolfinger’s 20-yarder to Guerette on third-and-11 set the table for the QB sneak on fourth-and-inches with 7:32 left in regulation.

“Most of those guys it’s the first varsity game they’ve ever played in when it mattered,” Hathaway said. “We got some good experience out of it. It was just one of those games where there were a lot of crazy things happening. We probably could have coached it better.”

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