TURNER — November in Maine doesn’t favor the kind of football offense that traditionally prevails in video games and summer 7-on-7 drills.

When Leavitt backs and receivers saw a cadre of volunteers taking shovels and snow blowers to Libby Field on Friday morning, surely they suspected it would take a titanic defensive effort Saturday afternoon to keep this dream season from stopping a week shy of its ultimate goal.

Mission accomplished.

Kept afloat by a parade of three-and-outs and two red zone shutdowns, junior quarterback Levi Craig’s two touchdowns — one passing, one running — were enough to weave a 14-9 victory over Wells for the Class C West championship.

“We’ve been on this field for four straight weeks with rain, so it’s pretty much like a mudslide out there,” Craig said. “We just had to make plays when we needed them, because our defense had a great game today.”

Leavitt (10-1) won its fifth regional title in six seasons and will face Winslow (10-0) in the state final at 7 p.m. Friday on the campus of the University of Maine in Orono. It is a rematch of the 2013 final, won by the Hornets, 47-18.


Wells (8-3) sacked Craig four times in the first half and held the Hornets to an even 200 yards of total offense, its lowest total since a 2010 loss to Mountain Valley in the Class B state game.

But Craig delivered a 46-yard strike to Max Green in the first quarter, punctuated by a fingertip grab in double coverage; and an 8-yard run late in the third. They were his 41st and 42nd TDs of the season.

“Holding them to 14 points with the offense they have … And their defense, we couldn’t move the ball very well, either,” Wells coach Tim Roche said. “Give them credit. Those things happen. It’s high school football in November, and we get to play, and somebody gets to go to next week.”

The Warriors rallied on the legs of senior halfback Chris Carney, who carried 27 times for 196 of 214 Wells’ total yards and nearly gave Wells a piggyback ride to the state final. He went over 2,000 yards rushing for his senior season in the game.

Craig’s TD run and two-point conversion pass to Mitchel Davis landed Leavitt a 14-3 lead with 1:43 remaining in the third quarter.

Carney scored from six yards out with 11:07 left. The drive began late in the third quarter when quarterback Nate Booth scrambled 10 yards on third-and-8 and picked up five extra yards into Leavitt territory on an incidental facemask.


“We just kind of went to a different formation and tried to see if we could get some stuff going, and we did,” Roche said. “We didn’t get it right there at the end, but we did stuff them defensively.”

It was only Wells’ second first down of the game.

“There were just a lot of times where we were on defense and came up with a stop,” said Will Parkin, who briefly slowed that Wells march with his team-leading 13th sack of the season on the final play of the third quarter. “We kept a very explosive offense very contained. All across the board we did well. Every position played fantastic.”

Carney refused to let Wells die, sweeping right for consecutive gains of 23 and 14 yards to start the fourth.

He capped the drive with a 6-yard run in the same direction. Leavitt smothered the two-point rush after a botched exchange.

“They came out in a pretty non-traditional formation for them, going shotgun. That is typically a passing formation for them, so we were kind of in that mindset on defense,” Leavitt coach Mike Hathaway said. “We made an adjustment and brought an extra guy down in the box and kind of rolled up against it, and it turned out pretty well.”


Not without another anxious moment.

After the Wells defense came up with a three-and-out and forced a Craig punt to the W-35, Carney gained 34 yards on another sweep.

Leavitt shut down Carney on four plays from there, though, the last when Adam Smith, Billy Bedard and Chandler Lajoie slammed him for a one-yard loss on fourth-and-1 from the 22.

Smith was in on all four tackles. The junior defensive tackle became a force defensively for the Hornets in a five-game stretch that began with a 26-19 regular-season win at Wells. Slowed by asthma during the summer, he was Carney’s chief foil Saturday long with Parkin, Bedard, Lajoie and Bryce Cobb.

“When I get in there, what I try to do is bring as much energy as possible. I try to get in there and make a big play,” Smith said. “We just wanted it more. Energy and heart. We proved something to everybody today.”

Wells had two more chances in the final 3:12, but Smith silenced another run by Carney for a one-yard loss, and seven consecutive Booth passes fell incomplete.


“That’s not what we are,” Roche said. “They’re a passing team. We’re a running team. You take away either one and you’ve got to go to something else, and we tried. It’s just not what we do.”

Leavitt’s defense also held Wells to a 25-yard Ryan Marsh field goal to preserve a 6-3 lead after Carney rambled 53 yards in the final minute of the first half.

Julian Kirouac stopped Booth on a keeper on third-and-1 from the 8, and Roche elected to put the relatively sure points on the board.

That three-spot was crucial on a day when neither offense found the footing necessary to light it up. Craig’s bomb to Green and Carney’s run (Green made the touchdown-saving tackle) provided roughly half the yards for each team in the first half.

“We told Levi at halftime and I just kept telling him on the sideline, ‘We’re not going away from this. This is who we are.’ You just need to keep going at it. We’re not going to go out there and blow them out in the second half,” Hathaway said. “You’re going to have to have that one drive where you string together a couple of completions and hit a big one, and that’s what he did.”

Leavitt’s defense limited Wells to 17 total yards on its first three possessions of the third quarter.


Craig connected with Green for 12 and Davis for 20 to ignite the Hornets. Kirouac churned out runs of 10 and 9 before a false start penalty set Leavitt back five yards. His receivers blanketed on second-and-6 from the 8, Craig calmly scrambled left for the score.

“Wells is a great team, the best defensive team we’ve played so far this year,” Craig said.

Marsh, Mike Curtis, Matt Healey and Kyle Goodale each sacked Craig in the first half.

Neither defense forced a turnover. The referees ruled that Craig was down by contact when the ball popped out near midfield with two minutes left.

That led to Craig’s ninth punt of the day, a 30-yarder that left Wells with too much distance to cover in too little time.

“I know our offense gets a lot of credit for things, but we had to lean pretty heavy on the defense today,” Hathaway said. “Our backs were to the well and our guys did the job defending our goal line. There were a couple of times they were down inside the 30, and our guys kept them out.”

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