PARIS — Eli Soehren accounted for three touchdowns and Oxford Hills’ defense shut out Sanford 43-0 in a Class A high school football game Friday night.

The Vikings needed almost a quarter to find their rhythm, and once they did the Spartans were rarely able to stop them.

With 1:36 left in the first quarter, Soehren found Teigan Pelletier on a 30-yard touchdown pass to Pelletier’s back shoulder in the corner of the end zone to give the Vikings a 7-0 lead.

“I saw him one-on-one and I didn’t see anyone else rolling out to my right, and he’s 6-foot-4,” Soehren said. “Why wouldn’t I throw it to him?”

That was only the first of many highlight plays for Soehren, who in the first half collected 197 total yards and three touchdowns.

On the Vikings’ next drive, Oxford Hills was driving but was called for holding on third down. Instead of forcing fourth down, Sanford opted to make the Vikings run a play on third-and-28. Soehren turned the Spartans’ decision into a mistake, connecting with Pelletier for a 37-yard gain and a first down in the red zone.

“In the past — because we struggled a bit, and we’ve gotten better, but my mentality has been fairly conservative,” Oxford Hills head coach Mark Soehren said. “But it started a couple years ago where I started to say, ‘We can take some shots down the field.’ Eli loves to throw downfield and the receivers are fast, so if they’re going to give us over-the-top in man, we will take it. Eli’s receivers have a pretty good connection, so we took advantage of that.”

Three plays later, Matt Doucette took a handoff on a jet sweep and ran into the end zone from 10 yards out to put the Vikings up 14-0 with 8:56 left in the first half.

“Offensively we really wanted to run outside, but they took that away so we ran outside with a jet,” Mark Soehren said.

Sanford tried throughout the first half to execute its own game plan and run the ball, taking its time between plays in an attempt to keep the Vikings’ offense off the field and preserve its own players’ legs.

“One of the things right now, where we don’t have a ton of depth and playing young kids, multiple sophomores playing both ways, it’s not that we aren’t taking a slow-down approach, but we know we aren’t running a whole new 11 when we go to offense, defense, specials,” Sanford coach Mike Fallon said.

The Spartans’ next drive ended in a punt. A penalty was called, so Oxford Hills opted to have Sanford punt again, and this time the snap was fumbled, giving the Vikings possession only 27 yards from the end zone.

A couple of penalties, including one that brought back an Oxford Hills score, forced the Vikings back to the 37-yard line, where they faced a third-and-20. Soehren rolled to his right on the next play and found Matthew Doucette in the back of the end zone for another touchdown that pushed the Oxford Hills lead to 21-0.

On Oxford Hills’ following possession, Soehren took matters into his own hands and ran in a score from 19 yards out, and the Vikings added a two-point conversion to build the lead up to 29-0 before halftime.

“I was talking to Eli about if everyone drops off in man-to-man, he should just run,” Mark Soehren said. “The first long (touchdown) run he had was us discussing it beforehand, then the second one was him seeing the opportunity. You don’t always get kids that can make that decision to run or throw, but he’s just calm enough back there. The offensive line did a good job with pass protection.”

“I see them fly away,” Eli Soehren added, “and our line just blocks them and there’s nothing the other team can do.”

Soehren finished with 174 passing yards and 91 rushing.

On the first possession of the second half, the Vikings ran seven plays and capped the drive with a 10-yard touchdown run from Isaiah Oufiero that grew Oxford Hills’s cushion to 36-0 with about nine minutes left in the third.

The clock turned to a running clock, and both teams became stagnant on offense. With a little more than two minutes remaining in the game, Oxford Hills’ Bohden Stetson blocked a Sanford punt then fell on it in the end zone for a touchdown that pushed the lead to 43-0.

“We didn’t do anything to help ourselves, anything, and you can’t do the mental breakdown things that become deadly,” Fallon said. “Like at the end, we had a bad handle on the punt and they scored, and it’s like, ‘Is this really happening?’

“But they’re good. Coach Soehren and his staff coach a good team.”

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