RUMFORD — Dirigo found enough holes in the Mountain Valley defense and ran its way to a 16-6 victory Friday at Hosmer Field.

The Cougars struck first, on their second drive of the game. They started from their own 42-yard line and ran the ball twice for 6 yards each time before Curtis Errington broke free for a 46-yard touchdown run on a toss to the right side. Quarterback Charlie Houghton ran the ball in for the two-point conversion and Dirigo grabbed an early 8-0 lead over its rival.

Mountain Valley responded with a seven-minute, 14-play drive that was halted by a fumble in the red zone. The Cougars recovered the fumble and the momentum.

“It was huge,” Dirigo coach Craig Collins said. “All year we talked about keeping composure. We are young and I was just telling them that it was coming, and the fumble was huge. It gave us some energy.”

For Mountain Valley (1-2), the fumble is the type of miscue that head coach Devin Roberts has been trying to work on avoiding with the Falcons, who only played two games prior to Friday’s matchup.

“That fumble hurt a lot,” Roberts said. “We had a little momentum in that drive and we coughed it up. … A lot of our offense, like I said before … a lot of mental mistakes. On the first drive we had three straight mistakes. If you want to win, you can’t do that.”

Dirigo (3-2) started its next drive on its own 14-yard line but failed on a fourth-down conversion and gave the ball back to Mountain Valley.

The Falcons went on another long drive down the field, and on the 10th play Kaden Paaso scored on a 12-yard run that started in the middle before he cut to the outside. The Falcons were called for false start on the two-point conversion and didn’t convert on their second try, so Dirigo held onto a 8-6 advantage.

“I know we can move the ball, we know that,” Roberts said. “Those plays we won, those inches and plays, we did it well. We know we can run the ball and throw the ball, we just need to get to the point where we can perfect it.”

With three minutes remaining in the half, Houghton took the Dirigo offense down the field with four consecutive completions, three to Trenton Hutchinson and one to Trent Holman, before throwing an interception in the red zone to Mountain Valley’s Jyrmal Yates after a tipped pass with less than a minute remaining.

On Dirigo’s first drive of the second half, Errington ran up the middle, broke through a group of tacklers near the line of scrimmage and scampered for a 35-yard touchdown run. Houghton ran in the two-point conversion, and the Cougars’ lead grew to 16-6 early in the third.

“When you can point it down hill and get the momentum going, we tend to do well running the ball,” Errington, who finished with 174 yards rushing, said. “I have to thank my line, they did a heck of a job tonight. They were running hard.”

“We want to throw the football, but we can run it, too,” Collins added. “We showed it. Curtis Errington can run it, Charlie (Houghton) can run it, Gavin Micks can run it, and our line is coming. It goes to them. Without them, this doesn’t happen.”

With seven minutes left in the game, Yates picked off Houghton for a second time, this time in the end zone when he reached over a receiver and wrestled the ball away in the air. But the Falcons went three-and-out and punted with five minutes left in the game.

Dirigo, on its final drive, converted two fourth downs, one on a fake punt that turned into a run, the other on a pass interference call on Mountain Valley.

“I liked how we battled. I thought we battled hard,” Collins said. “There was that one part in the first where they went for seven minutes, but other than that I thought we battled every play, we didn’t give an inch and we are understanding how to battle.”

Houghton finished with 123 yards of offense.

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