Fryeburg Academy’s Caleb Bowes is taken down by Leavitt’s Dasean Calder during Saturday night’s Class C South championship in Turner. (Andree Kehn/Sun Journal)

TURNER — Fryeburg Academy played complementary football Saturday night to win its first regional championship, and that included being one and the same with Libby Field’s worn and muddy track.

Calvin Southwick’s 4-yard touchdown with 1:58 to go gave the second-seeded Raiders their only lead and the only one they needed for a 20-13 victory over No. 1 Leavitt in the Class C South championship game.

“It feels amazing,” senior guard/linebacker Reese Kneissler said. “We’ve worked so hard for this. To be at this point, it’s true elation.” 

“I could not think of anyone else who I would want to win with,” said Fryeburg senior QB Oscar Saunders, who was 10-for-14 for 169 yards, two TDs and one interceptions passing, plus had some key runs on the winning drive. “This team is incredible. They always put the team before themselves and they push each other to get better every day.”

Fryeburg won a Class C state title in 1963, before the current Maine Principals’ Association format. It also shared a Class B title in 1965 with John Bapst.

The Raiders (10-1) will face C North champion Nokomis for the state title next Saturday. Leavitt ends its season at 9-2.

Leavitt lost starting sophomore quarterback Wyatt Hathaway to a knee injury late in the first half in a 7-7- tie. Freshman backup Hunter Hayes stepped in for the Hornets’ last possession of the half after Riley Parmenter’s interception set them up at Fryeburg’s 19.

On fourth-and-12, Hayes threw over the middle to a leaping Oren Shaw for a touchdown. The PAT missed, so Leavitt went into halftime with a 13-7 lead.

“I think we started a little soft because of what happened the last time we played them,” Kneissler said. “Second half, Coach (David Turner) made some great adjustments. We dug in our heels.”

“(Hayes) threw a great touchdown, but we knew they were going to run the ball a little bit more, so we had to adjust to it,” Kneissler said.

After being burned by sweeps plays by Leavitt’s Damion Calder (nine carries, 64 yards) in the first quarter, the Raiders started locking in on the Hornets’ multi-pronged running attack in the second. They shut it down completely  in the second half, allowing the Hornets just 9 yards of total offense in the final 24 minutes.

“With (Hathaway) out, I don’t know if it changed much, but they certainly had fewer options,” Turner said. “We were more concentrated on the run.”

“It felt like there was a lot working against us,” Leavitt coach Mike Hathaway said. “Everything that’s happened, plus lose your quarterback early. I just thought our guys did a good job of battling through it as best they could.”

Nathan Knapp’s interception and return to Leavitt’s 36 set up Fryeburg’s tying score.  From the 17, Saunders rolled right, waived receiver Caleb Bowles towards the end zone and led him there with his throw. Bowles took a hard hit as he hauled it in and managed to hang on just beyond the pylon. A missed extra point kept it at 13-13 with 4:04 left in the third quarter.

“I was rolling out of the pocket and the hitch wasn’t open right away,” Saunders said. “So I pointed to my receiver to go to the end zone because I felt like we could get the corner turned out a little bit. I threw a nice touch pass and he made a great catch.”

Leavitt’s defense took the Raiders’ leading rusher, Southwick (eight carries, 14 yards) out of the game. But Fryeburg was able to make it a field position battle for much of the fourth quarter before starting the game-winning drive at Leavitt’s 42. After a short pass completion, Saunders ran on five consecutive plays, advancing from the 38 to the 4, prior to Southwick’s touchdown.

Leavitt was playing a day after learning of the sudden death of assistant coach Pete Casey, whose son Tommy is a starting sophomore lineman and guard.

The Hornets seemed to have the emotional edge early and gained 96 of their 132 total yards for the game in the first quarter and took a 7-0 lead on Allen Peabody’s 1-yard touchdown run with 30 seconds left in the period.

Despite starting deep in its own end, Fryeburg answered just three plays into its next possession with a 78-yard touchdown pass by Saunders to Knapp. 

“I thought Saunders had a great game,” Mike Hathaway said. “He made a couple of big plays in the pass game and he made some tough runs on that last drive. He was probably the difference on that side of the ball.”

Leavitt’s Wyatt Hathaway runs with the ball during Saturday night’s Class C South championship in Turner. (Andree Kehn/Sun Journal)

Leavitt’s Wyatt Hathaway runs the ball down the field, chased by Fryeburg Academy’s Ethan Burke and Josh Frye during Saturday night’s Class C South championship in Turner. (Andree Kehn/Sun Journal)

Leavitt’s Damien Calder tackles Fryeburg Academy’s Dawson Jones during Saturday night’s Class C South championship in Turner. (Andree Kehn/Sun Journal)

The Fryeburg Academy football team celebrates after winning the Class C South championship against Leavitt in Turner on Saturday evening. (Andree Kehn/Sun Journal)

Leavitt’s Wyatt Hathaway runs the ball down the field, chased by Fryeburg Academy’s Ethan Burke and Josh Frye during Saturday night’s Class C South championship in Turner. (Andree Kehn/Sun Journal)Fryeburg Academy’s Caleb Bowes is taken down by Leavitt’s Dasean Calder during Saturday night’s Class C South championship in Turner. (Andree Kehn/Sun Journal)Leavitt’s Damien Calder tackles Fryeburg Academy’s Dawson Jones during Saturday night’s Class C South championship in Turner. (Andree Kehn/Sun Journal)


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