RUMFORD — Just before halftime, Mountain Valley punted with a six-point lead.

Jacob Meader of Madison/Carrabec picked up the punt on the Falcons’ 30-yard line and returned it after no Mountain Valley player jumped on it and ended up tying the game by scoring a touchdown with 37 seconds remaining in the first half.

Instead of heading into halftime with a lead, Mountain Valley was tied, and Madison and went on to wear down the Falcons en route to a 40-12 win Friday to advance in the Class D South playoffs.

“Defensively, we played a heck of a game, and in the second half we played with passion and played like the team I know they can be,” Madison head coach Scott Franzose said. “They were focused and got the job done.”

Neither team was getting anywhere on offense in the third quarter until Madison fell on top of a fumbled snap to Mountain Valley’s Andrews McDonald at the Falcons’ 43. Two plays later, Bulldogs quarterback Eric Wescott threw over the top to Meader, who was wide open in the middle of the field for a 34-yard touchdown. It was Wescott’s second touchdown pass of the game, and Madison’s lead was 20-12 after a successful two-point conversion.

In the fourth quarter, a 28-yard pass to Meader set up a 1-yard touchdown run from Josh Savage, whose run up the gut knocked him down but on top of a lineman and he was able to roll off and into the end zone to give the Bulldogs a two-touchdown lead, 27-12.

Savage also scored the final touchdown for Madison with just two minutes left in the game. Michael Melanson scored Madison’s other TD, a 13-yard touchdown with five minutes left in the game.

Mistakes were too plentiful for the Falcons to overcome in the second half.

“At halftime, I was kind of bothered by our mental let down before halftime,” Mountain Valley head coach Patrick Mooney said. “We had some bad false starts and that punt return we just fell asleep on the field. I liked the effort, we just got out-punched in the fourth.”

Meader said his punt return was as simple as seeing open field and going for it.

“I saw they were slowly pursuing the ball, and I saw the sideline open with green grass so I just picked it up and ran,” Meader said. “… We just got hype and went and did good things. We were beating them off the ball every play and getting in the backfield, doing a heck of a job.”

Mountain Valley’s offense worked in spurts in the first half. Jacob Blanchard took the second play of the game 73 yards up the right side for a touchdown to give the Falcons a 6-0 lead. But between that touchdown and its next one, Mountain Valley accumulated just 13 yards of total offense.

On its second touchdown drive, Mountain Valley rode the backs of four different runners until Blanchard turned the corner on the left side and scored from 15 yards out to go up 12-6.

Just three Madison drives prior, the Bulldogs scored on a 20-yard touchdown pass from Wescott to Kaleb Nichols to tie it at 6-6.

Wescott finished with 158 total yards and two touchdowns, but the Bulldogs’ defense was the difference maker as they shut out Mountain Valley in the second half and created great field position drive after drive.

“First time in a while that we got good looks on special teams,” Franzose said. “We played well outside to give our returners a lot of time. Special teams were much improved. We played tough, controlled the line of scrimmage. Regardless of the big plays, I thought we did a good job of shutting them down.”

Blanchard finished with 117 rushing yards for the Falcons.


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