TURNER — A pair of scores two minutes apart separated Leavitt from Cape Elizabeth in front of a packed crowd at Libby Field on Friday.

Lead by sophomore quarterback Noah Carpenter’s five touchdowns, the Hornets handed the Capers their first loss of the season, 39-27, in a matchup of the final two unbeaten football teams in Class C.

Cape Elizabeth scored quickly after the halftime break on a 4-yard touchdown run by quarterback Caden McDuffie that put the Capers up 21-20 with 10:14 left in the third quarter.

After that fast score, Leavitt slowed the game down and went on a 13-play drive that took 7 minutes, 9 seconds off of the clock. Carpenter scored on a 4-yard touchdown run, and a then completed two-point conversion pass to Brett Coburn to give Leavitt a 28-21 advantage with 3:05 remaining in the third quarter.

“That was super big,” Carpenter said of the drive. “We had to slow the game down and we needed to take possession. We did what we wanted to run and we felt confident in it.”

“We had a couple things that we wanted to do coming out of halftime that we thought would work running the football,” Leavitt head coach Mike Hathaway added. “We went out and did a few of those and we were able to mix in some passes to have some balance and we hit a couple big ones.”

The Hornets quickly added to their lead. The defense recovered a fumble and took possession near the 50-yard line. Carpenter found Sawyer Hathaway for a 42-yard pass down the left sideline that set up a Carpenter 30-yard field goal that extended the Hornets’ lead to 10 points, 31-21, with 1:05 remaining in the third.

“Sawyer came back to the sideline and said, ‘Dad, if you run this, we’ve got it,'” Hathaway said. “We ran it — and ran it kind of incorrectly, Dayton Calder didn’t come in motion — but they made a big throw and catch. And that was a big play. Noah has had only three or four field goals this year so that was a helpful one to make (the lead) seven to 10 (points), it makes it easier on you as a coach.”

With a two-score lead, Leavitt’s defense stepped up and forced a turnover on downs. On the next Cape drive, Coburn tallied his third sack of the game to force second down, and then Landen Arsenault intercepted a pass.

“One thing is we’ve been harping on our defense to force turnovers because in our first game we didn’t force any,” Hathaway said. “We’ve spent a lot of time on it because we’ve been pretty good at that last year and our guys responded.”

Cape Elizabeth head coach Sean Green said the turnovers were the difference in the game that pitted two undefeated teams against each other.

“We’ve only had one turnover all year, and we had a couple tonight,” Green said. “Usually when you have two teams who are right there, hand-in-hand, turnovers make the difference, and I think that was the story tonight. You can’t give a team like that more opportunities.”

Carpenter and the Hornets again moved the ball down the field, including a 27-yard pass to Calder that set up a 6-yard touchdown run by Carpenter that pushed Leavitt advantage to 39-21.

Carpenter finished 163 yards rushing and five touchdowns. He also passed for 109 yards.

“He means a lot, you saw it tonight,” Hathaway said. “Noah is one of the best players in the state, I think. He can run the ball, throw the ball. He’s tough, he’s smart, good on defense, too, and he’s just a good all-around player.”

On Cape’s next drive, McDuffie found Nick Laughlin for a 66-yard touchdown pass with 1:20 left in the game to pull within 39-27.

Early in the contest, the Leavitt’s no-huddle offense put the Capers on their heals.

The Hornets opened the game with a quick seven-play drive that was capped by Carpenter’s 13-yard touchdown run. Carpenter then ran in the two-point conversion to give the Hornets an 8-0 lead only 2:46 into the game.

“We ran a lot of inside stuff,” Carpenter said. “We had our linemen do an excellent job. Our linemen played well, our guards pulled and pulled right into the holes and basically got on their backs and hit the outside. I couldn’t have done it without the line.”

Cape Elizabeth advanced the ball down the field on its first possession, but an interception by Leavitt’s Hunter Hayes put a stop to a promising drive.

The Capers’ defense forced the Hornets to punt, and the kick went only 8 yards and gave Cape Elizabeth promising field position at its own 45-yard line.

Coburn sacked McDuffie for an 8-yard loss after a bad snap, but two plays later, McDuffie threw a 24-yard pass to Caden Lee and ran for 9 yards. Nick Laughlin finished the drive with a 13-yard run and then a 2-yard run into the end zone to pull Cape within 8-6 with 2:13 left in the first quarter.

McDuffie finished with 43 rushing yards and 201 passing yards with three scores.

The Capers’ defense held strong and the Hornets seemed ready to punt again, but on the first play of the second quarter Carpenter faked a punt and ran up the middle. He broke a tackle about 10 yards into his run to reach open field and scampered to the end zone for a 53-yard touchdown that gave the Hornets a 14-6 lead.

McDuffie, though, answered again, this time finding Lee for a 43-yard pass and then scoring on 3-yard touchdown run. A pass by McDuffie to Luke Mello on the two-point conversion evened the score at 14-14.

Both teams traded punts before Leavitt went on an eight-play drive that finished with a 4-yard touchdown run by Carpenter that put the Hornets back on top, 20-14, with 2:04 left in the first half.

Coburn then notched his second sack of the half, which forced Cape to punt before the end of the opening half.

Related Headlines

Only subscribers are eligible to post comments. Please subscribe or to participate in the conversation. Here’s why.

Use the form below to reset your password. When you've submitted your account email, we will send an email with a reset code.