GRAY – After a tough first half that included four lost fumbles, coach Brian Jahna’s halftime message to the Gray-New Gloucester football team short and simple:

“Hold onto the ball.” 

The Patriots didn’t fumble in the second half and and instead of turnovers put points on the board in their 40-14  homecoming victory over Yarmouth on Friday.

“Hold onto the football, that really was it,” Jahna said. “We went to half (trailing) 8-6 and we had (a lot of) turnovers. We knew if we could hold onto the ball, we would be in good shape. That really was it.

“They did a good job of stopping our veer. We made some adjustments to that right before the half, but that was really the only adjustment we made. If we could hold onto the ball, (we thought) we’d be able to move the ball.”

Gray-NG forced Yarmouth to punt on the first drive of the second half, then moved the ball right up the field. Griffyn Gomes finished the drive with a 25-yard touchdown run on which Gomes pulled defenders with him almost the entire way to the end zone. The score put the Patriots ahead 12-8 early in the third quarter. 

Yarmouth then received the kickoff but stepped out of bounds at its own 8-yard line. On the first play of the drive, the snap went over the quarterback’s head, and Gray-NG’s Nick Geer fell on it for a touchdown. A successful two-point conversion from Gomes gave Gray-NG to a 20-8 lead.

“It was a huge momentum shift,” Jahna said. “This team needs to know it can believe in themselves, and to have those kinds of moments is big.”

“It was a really big momentum change for us,” Gray-NG quarterback Mikey Ryan added. “It got us amped up and ready to go.”

The two teams traded turnovers on the next two possessions — the Clippers fumbled and the Patriots threw an interception. Then the Patriots forced a turnover on downs.

Gray-NG’s defense was stout for much of the game, giving up only 181 yards of offense, but Yarmouth quarterback Spencer LaBrecque left the game late with an injury in the first quarter after amassing 72 yards of offense, the Clippers’ only yards of the first half.

After that turnover on downs, Gray-NG’s Kody Benson ran through tackles at the line of scrimmage and broke into the open field and to the end zone for a 51-yard touchdown run that put the Patriots up 28-8 to start the fourth quarter. Benson’s touchdown had the packed bleachers buzzing. 

“The crowd helps a lot,” Ryan said. “It’s good when you have a lot of energy coming out. I have been in those stands, and providing energy is so much fun.” 

Labrecque returned to the game late in the third quarter, and picked up right where he had left off.

With 7:15 remaining, LaBrecque scored from 9 yards out, which came after a 32-yard completion to Kai Sullivan. The touchdown cut the Gray-NG lead to 28-14. 

The Patriots recovered the onside kick that followed LaBrecque’s touchdown, and two plays later, Miles Post’s 49-yard touchdown run to pushed Gray-New Gloucester’s lead to 34-14 with 5:30 remaining. 

Jeremiah Pye capped the scoring for the Patriots with a 17-yard score in the final minute to make the score 40-14. 

Yarmouth opened the game with a successful onside kick, but an unsuccessful fake punt stalled its opening drive.

Gray-New Gloucester fumbled the ball away on first possession. Then LaBrecque ran for a 41-yard touchdown. A successful two-point conversation from LaBrecque gave Yarmouth an early 8-0 lead. 

Gray-NG answered with a 10-play, 80-yard drive that was completed by a 21-yard touchdown run from Post, who slipped through the line on the left side and entered the end zone with no defenders near him. Post’s touchdown cut Yarmouth’s lead to 8-6.

LaBrecque finished with 167 yards of offense, accounting for all but 14 of the Clippers yards. 

Post finished with 111 yards rushing for the Patriots.

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