OAKLAND — After a season-opening loss to Cony, the Mt. Blue football team needed a response. It took just minutes for the Cougars to show they got the message.

Hunter Meeks ran for 114 yards in just one half of play, Kevon Johnson ran for 55 and caught three passes for 54 yards and two touchdowns, and Mt. Blue notched touchdowns on its first five drives en route to a 43-16 Pine Tree Conference Class B win over Messalonskee Friday night.

“We came back, we’ve worked hard all week, we have put in the effort, we’ve watched the film. We did everything we needed to do to prepare for this week,” Meeks said. “I’m super proud of this team and how we rebounded. I’m looking forward to the rest of the season.”

It was the first win as coach of the Cougars for Scott Franzose, who used a different word for what his team accomplished.

“We talked before the game and reminded them, we’re not looking (at) this as a rebound game. It was a statement game,” he said. “We kind of know the team we can be, we were kind of working out some of the kinks last week against a very good Cony team. … Tonight I saw systems working, I saw 11 men making it work on the field.”

Mt. Blue is now 1-1, while Messalonskee, which got 80 yards rushing from freshman Bryce Crowell and 64 receiving yards and a touchdown from sophomore Zach Wilson, fell to 0-2 in what has the looks of a rebuilding season.

“It’s still a process. It takes time, it takes more than two weeks,” coach Walter Polky said. “The effort’s great. We’re just getting our football I.Q. up where it needs to be. … But the effort that we have, that’s a great sign at least we’re going in the right direction.”

Mt. Blue made an impact from the opening plays. Johnson ran a counter left on the second play from scrimmage for 19 yards, Meeks followed with a keeper for 14, and the Cougars found the end zone just three plays later when Caleb Haines ran in from 3 yards out for a 7-0 lead with 9:46 left in the first quarter.

Messalonskee’s hole grew deeper when the Eagles muffed the ensuing kickoff, allowing the Mt. Blue offense to go back on the field and take over at the Messalonskee 31. The Eagles seemed on their way to a stop, forcing a 4th-and-14, but Meeks’ pass down the left sideline floated over the Messalonskee secondary and into Johnson’s hands for a 20-yard touchdown reception and 14-0 lead.

Special teams swung in Mt. Blue’s favor again when the Cougars forced a punt and Kyle Fox took the ball off a bounce and returned it 42 yards to the Eagle 13. Mt. Blue needed only one play to cash in, with Meeks keeping it himself and darting through the defense to make it 21-0.

“After last week we didn’t like our performance, and we needed to bounce back,” Meeks said. “That’s exactly what we did. We worked hard and we definitely earned this one.”

Mt. Blue kept its foot on the gas in the second quarter. Meeks found a hole in the defense and sprinted 50 yards for a touchdown with 10:27 to go in the half, and the Cougars needed only four plays to go 51 yards on their next drive, with Meeks finding Johnson wide open in the right flat for what became a 25-yard touchdown reception and a 35-0 lead with 6:32 to go.

“He’s great for us,” Meeks said of Johnson. “We can line him up wide, we can throw him in the backfield and give him the ball. He does just about everything.”

Messalonskee saw its best drive of the half end with another mistake. Down 21-0, the Eagles drove 54 yards from their 37 to the Mt. Blue 9, with Brady Doucette finding Wilson for 13 yards and Andrew Everett for 21 along the way. The progress crashed to a halt on a fumbled pitch, however, which the Cougars recovered to set up their fourth scoring drive.

In the second half, Crowell ran for a 10-yard score to put Messalonskee on the board, 35-7, with 7:10 left in the third. Mt. Blue answered with a 5-yard touchdown run by Tucker Nicholas, making it 43-7 with 3:47 left in the quarter, and the Eagles got the next two scores in the fourth when Dawson Kitchin recorded a safety and Doucette found Wilson for an 11-yard score.

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