Aidan Sullivan, Marshwood High’s quarterback, heard Coach Alex Rotsko’s call, and he did a double-take. Did he just say we’re going for it? On fourth-and-2 from our own 9? With a one-point lead?

Sullivan heard correctly, and went out and got the two yards the Hawks needed. It was the key play in a drive that ate up the game’s final 10 minutes and 24 seconds. And it was the play that foreshadowed another state championship for Marshwood.

The Hawks held off Windham, 14-13, to win their fourth consecutive Class B football title Saturday at Fitzpatrick Stadium. It took a huge defensive stand, Rotsko’s gutsy call, and the ensuing long drive that ran out the clock.

It’s Marshwood’s sixth state title in the last seven seasons, all under Rotsko.

“I honestly thought we were going to punt it. But Coach (Rotsko) said we’re going to sneak it, which we haven’t done much this year. The left side of the line is just great. They got me a good push, and I followed behind them. I really can’t believe we went for it inside our own 10,” Sullivan said.

The Hawks (9-3) rarely called for the quarterback sneak this season, but Rotsko had faith his senior would get the job done.

“Aidan Sullivan, he’s a gamer, so I figured he’d get it. We just figured we could make a play,” Rotsko said. “Obviously, it’s one of those calls where you look like a genius or a moron. I guess I’m a genius tonight. Next time, I’ll be a moron.”

Three plays before the Hawks took the gamble of the game, they stuffed the Eagles (9-1) twice inside the 1 to preserve their slim lead. On second-and-goal from the 16, Haddon Boyle was stopped just short of the goal line. Boyle was stuffed for no gain on third down and quarterback Will Ledbetter was stopped short of the end zone on fourth down.

“The guys up front said we were in the first time, and we weren’t called in. Apparently (the refs) could see it better than anyone else. I’m not sure how, we were laying in the end zone. So we decided to go for it again. We’re inside the half-inch line,” said Windham Coach Matt Perkins.

On fourth-and-goal, Marshwood inserted 6-foot-6, 350-pound sophomore defensive lineman Jackson Buckley for what would be his only play of the game.

“He hasn’t played at all on defense this year,” Rotsko said. “We figured he’d be tough to move.”

From there, Marshwood was determined to play keep-away. The Eagles had moved the ball throughout the game, gaining 294 yards, and Rotsko knew his team couldn’t give them another chance. The Hawks kept the ball on the ground, grinding out yards and chewing the clock.

“We kept saying, one more first down. One more first down. One more first down. It just kept happening,” Rotsko said. “I was just hoping not to leave too much time on the clock if we didn’t score. Then we got in the situation, now we don’t want to score with a one-point lead. I would never guess we’d have done that.”

Added Sullivan: “We were just running the ball, same plays, and we trusted our backs. We knew they were going to hold on to the ball.”

With Windham out of timeouts, Marshwood took a delay of game penalty with a second remaining. On the fourth down, Sullivan ran backwards and took a knee to end the game.

All the scoring came in the first half. Marshwood took a 7-0 lead late in the first quarter when Ty Cougler blocked a Windham field goal attempt and Cam Cornett scooped up the ball and ran 88 yards for a touchdown.

The Hawks pushed their lead to 14-0 with 6:58 left in the second quarter when Andrew Goodwin scored on a 1-yard run.

Windham then scored twice in the final five minutes of the half. Nick Garrison (nine catches, 119 yards) caught a 10-yard touchdown pass from Will Ledbetter with 4:49 to play. When Marshwood went offside on the extra point try, Windham elected to go for a 2-point conversion but was stopped short.

Garrison came up big for the Eagles a few minutes later, intercepting an Aidan Sullivan pass and returning it 70 yards for a touchdown that cut the Hawks’ lead to 14-13.


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