Maranacook’s Joe Albert, left, dives in to help teammates try to bring down Dirigo’s Mike Packard during Friday night’s playoff game in Dixfield. (Russ Dillingham/Sun Journal)

DIXFIELD — Dallas Berry’s right foot foiled Maranacook again.

Berry, a sophomore who kicked three extra points that were the difference in Dirigo’s 21-18 win over Maranacook during the regular season, split the uprights for a 22-yard field goal with 15.6 seconds left to give No. 2 Dirigo a 17-14 win over No. 3 Maranacook in a Class E football semifinal at Harlow Park on Friday.

Dirigo (8-1) advances to next week’s state championship game to face the winner of Saturday’s semifinal between Freeport and Camden Hills.

Maranacook ends its season at 6-4.

Maranacook trailed for nearly entire game before tying it with 5:01 to go on quarterback Garit Laliberte’s 32-yard touchdown run and Dakota Demott’s 2-point run.

The Black Bears forced a punt on Dirigo’s next possession, but had to line up to punt it back with 1:30 left.

Senior Jack Lavorgna (17 tackles, two sacks) burst through the front wall and blocked the punt, and recovered the ball at the Bears’ 11 with 1:21 to go.

“My team was looking down,” Lavorgna said, “but I took it upon myself to bring us back in this game because I wasn’t ready to say goodbye to football just yet.”

Having already used all of their timeouts, the Cougars called a run, incomplete pass and another run for a net gain of 1 yard, but got the ball centered for Berry, who, with the clock still running, boomed it down the middle with room to spare.

“Coach (Jim Hersom) took me aside and said, ‘You know, if we need you down there, you’re going to have to take it,'” Berry said. “I said, ‘I’m up to the challenge.'”

Maranacook will look back on a couple of chances to score, one in each half, that it didn’t convert.

The first came after the Black Bears recovered Alex Gorham’s fumble on the first play of the game. Starting at Dirigo’s 30, they advanced to the 19 for a first down. But a bad shotgun snap pushed them back to the 34, and they ended up turning the ball over on downs.

“The defense has been playing great all year,” Dirigo coach Jim Hersom said. “We’ve got a lot of tough kids, a lot of character kids. We’re a little bit different than we have been the last couple of years scheme-wise, but we’re doing a nice job with what we’re doing.”

Trailing 14-6 early in the third quarter, Maranacook drove to first-and-goal at the 3. But Demott was stopped after a gain of 1 on first and second downs, and back-to-back QB sneaks by Laliberte from the 1 went nowhere.

“They played some really good, sound defense. They have some really, really good players in the middle,” Maranacook coach Walter Polky said. “It’s one of those things, knowing situations, knowing down and distance and things like that. Those are things you learn as a younger team as you keep playing, especially playing in big games like this.”

With leading rusher Alex Gorham limited to playing only defense by a bad ankle shortly after scoring the game’s first TD on a 5-yard run, the Cougars turned to Berry to carry much of the load on offense. Berry (17 carries, 75 yards) delivered with a 17-yard TD run and PAT that put Dirigo up 14-0 with 1:39 left in the first half.

Maranacook answered immediately with its first scoring drive, capped by Laliberte’s 16-yard TD pass to Isac Philbrick on fourth-and-11 with 32 seconds left in the half.

Dirigo didn’t match its first-half success moving the ball in the second half (156 total yards in the first half, 39 in the second).

“We struggled in the second half,” Hersom said. “I thought we did a pretty good job in the first half. I’m really proud of the kids. They just hung in there and hung in there. Those guys over there (Maranacook) played a hell of a game, too.”

Maranacook’s Nate Cushing, left, forces a fumble on the first series of plays of the game when he hit Dirigo’s Dallas Berry in the backfield and then recovered the fumble for Maranacook. (Russ Dillingham/Sun Journal)

Maranacook’s Joe Albert, left, dives in to help two other teammates try to bring down Dirigo’s Dallas Berry during Friday night’s playoff game in Dixfield. (Russ Dillingham/Sun Journal)

Maranacook quarterback Chris Reid can’t escape Dirigo’s Dallas Berry as he drags him down before he can get into the secondary during the first half of Friday nigh’ts playoff game in Dixfield. (Russ Dillingham/Sun Journal)

Maranacook quarterback Chris Reid can’t escape Dirigo’s Dallas Berry as he drags him down before he can get into the secondary during the first half of Friday night’s playoff game in Dixfield. (Russ Dillingham/Sun Journal)


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