LIVERMORE FALLS — Spruce Mountain and Mountain Valley not only had to square off against each other, but the two teams must have felt like they were running against the wind.

Strong winds whipped the playing field Friday night, but the fourth-ranked Phoenix worked around Mother Nature and the feisty No. 5 Falcons to come out on top with a 37-12 victory in a Class D South football quarterfinal.

Andrew McDonald of Mountain Valley High School carries the ball to the one-yard line during Friday’s game against Spruce Mountain in Livermore Falls on Friday. Daryn Slover/Sun Journal Buy this Photo

The Phoenix move on to the semifinals where they will meet up with top-seeded Winthrop/Monmouth/Hall-Dale next week.

“You know (the Falcons) are a tough team,” Spruce Mountain coach David Frey said. “The first half we just didn’t block very well offensively. The combination of the weather — it’s cold — and we just didn’t play very well in the first half.

“You know, they came out and played very hard.  That made a difference. I think we just didn’t execute very well. They blocked a lot better, they played a lot better (in the second half). “ 

For Spruce Mountain, it was a night of back-to-back performances by quarterback Jack Bryant and running back Brandon Frey.

The first quarter belonged to Spruce and Bryant, who scored on a 16-yard rush that was followed by a successful conversion by Bryson Bailey at 8:03.

But then Bryant dazzled the audience when he bolted from the 2-yard line for a 98-yard touchdown with  2:18 left in the first quarter. Bryant then connected with Frey for another two-point conversion to push the Phoenix’s lead to 16-0.

Spruce Mountain High School quarterback Jack Bryant gets by Andrew McDonald of Mountain Valley during Bryant’s 98-yard touchdown run during the first quarter in Livermore Falls on Friday. Daryn Slover/Sun Journal Buy this Photo

“We realized what we had to do (in the second half),” Bryant said. “The first half we struggled getting off the ball and setting the edge and getting outside. Once we were able to do that, we could push the ball up and down.”

But the Falcons are a stubborn bunch and scored in the second quarter on a 1-yard run by senior Dylan Desroches, but the conversion failed. Still, Mountain Valley went into the halftime break trailing only 16-6.

“We had  big motivation,” Falcons coach Devin Roberts said. “We really schemed things out between this week and last week and we turned the light switch on.”

Senior running back Andrew McDonald was forced to leave the game after aggravating a knee injury. Roberts acknowledged that McDonald’s departure hurt.

“He had a new injury earlier in the season and he re-injured it,” Roberts said. “He is a great runner. He has experience. He is really a big positive part of our team.”

The Falcons cut Spruce Mountain’s lead to four points in the third quarter. Junior Anthony Mazza shoved his way from the 7-yard line and into the end zone at 5:24. The conversion failed, but Mountain Valley was now breathing down the Phoenix’s necks.

Spruce responded on the next set of downs when Bryant sent a 71-yard pass to Frey for a touchdown at 4:17. After the conversion failed, the Phoenix’s lead was 22-12.

The fourth quarter featured back-to back touchdowns from Frey, who smuggled the ball into the end zone from the 14 and scored on a 42-yard dash.

“They are a good team and they were starting a comeback,” Brandon Frey said. “They were playing hard and they had nothing to lose and we had a lot to lose. But we had to step it up and that’s what we did in the second half.

“I love each and every one of these seniors, and to the guys that stepped up, I thank them. They mean a lot to me.”


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