LEWISTON — Sanford was down but not out in Friday’s Class A quarterfinal football game against Lewiston at Don Roux Field.

The Spartans scored twice in the final 20 seconds of the game, including an interception return for a touchdown by LJ McFarland with two seconds remaining that gave sixth-seeded Sanford a 42-35 win over the third-seeded Blue Devils.

Lewiston High School head coach Jason Versey talks with his team in the locker room prior to the start of Friday’s Class A North quarterfinal game against Sanford High School at Don Roux Field. Daryn Slover/Sun Journal

“I just saw an open field and I (ran) as hard as I could,” said McFarland, who also ran for 85 yards on offense for the Spartans.

Sanford (6-4) moves on to face No. 2 Thornton Academy (7-2) in the semifinals next week. The top two seeds in Class A, Oxford Hills and Thornton, had byes this week. The top-seeded Vikings will face Bonny Eagle in the semis after the Scotts edged Scarborough 14-13 on Friday.

McFarland’s pick-6 came on Lewiston’s first offensive play after Sanford tied the game at 35-35 with 18 seconds remaining. Blue Devils coach Jason Versey didn’t want to coast into an overtime situation. There was still time on the clock, and Lewiston had a knack for making big plays this season.

Before the snap, a few Blue Devils went in motion, and running back Eli Bigelow ended up behind the center. Bigelow took the snap from the shotgun, pitched the ball to quarterback Jeffrey Randall and ran out for pass. Randall threw it to Bigelow, but McFarland stepped in front of the pass at the 37-yard line and returned it to the end zone.


“No risk it, no biscuit,” Versey said. “We thought we could get them on a trick play and wrap this up in 18 seconds. We didn’t get it done. My hats off to Sanford and that incredible staff, and that football team. They never quit, they kept grinding,. And we didn’t (quit) either, honestly. I wish there was another quarter to play.”

Lewiston tried lateralling the ball on the ensuing kickoff, but an errant lateral hit the ground and bounced out of bounds.

The Blue Devils finish the season 5-4 — the first time they end a season with a winning record since they went 5-4 in 2011.

“I told the kids I was incredibly proud of the sacrifices they made before the season and everything they gave throughout the season,” said Versey, a Lewiston High School graduate in his first season leading the Blue Devils. “I told them there’s nothing to hang their heads about because they are special and they gave me everything they had in their tank.”


Lewiston went up by eight points, 35-27, with about eight minutes to play in Friday’s fourth quarter. The teams traded punts, and the Spartans got the ball back at their own 9-yard line with less than three minutes remaining.


They drove 91 yards on 13 plays and tied the game on a 5-yard touchdown pass from Carter Buswell to Makai Bougie with 18 seconds left.

After spending most of Friday’s game running — and doing likewise in a season-opening 34-6 win over Lewiston on Sept. 2 — Sanford picked up 55 yards through the air on the game-tying possession. Buswell’s favorite target on the drive was running back Jordan Bissonnette, who caught three passes for 50 yards, including a 34-yard reception that put the Spartans near midfield at their own 45-yard line.

Bissonnette also picked up 30 yards on the ground on two runs, including a 15-yard run on fourth-and-3 with 1:11 to play. His other carry went for 15 yards and advanced the ball to the Lewiston 5-yard line.

Two plays later, Buswell found Bougie on an out route for a touchdown. Bissonnette’s 2-point conversion run tied the game at 35-35.

“Obviously, our strength is in our run game,” Sanford coach Mike Fallon said. “We were able to, at critical times, get our pass game going, which was huge. To go 91 yards — and not only that, we are down by eight, it’s not like we can kick the extra point in. …We had to go 91 (yards), score, and get the 2-point conversion.”

Versey said he had confidence that the Lewiston defense would make a stop on that drive.



The Blue Devils spent most of the first half playing catchup, but went into the break with the scored tied 21-21.

Bougie caught a 22-yard TD reception on the opening drive of the third quarter to once again put Sanford in front, but the extra point came up short and its lead was only six points, 27-21.

Lewiston dictated the play for the rest of the third quarter and into the fourth quarter. Senior running backs Bigelow and Farid Muhammed-Aceto combined for 50 yards rushing, including Bigelow’s 35-yard TD along the right sideline. Kicker Michael Caron’s extra point gave the Blue Devils a 28-27 lead, their first lead of the game.

On the next Lewiston drive, Muhammed-Aceto scored from 3 yards out, and Caron’s kick extended the Blue Devils’ lead to eight points, 35-27, with 7:51 remaining in the fourth quarter. That possession was aided by a pair of personal foul penalties called on Sanford, moving the ball down from the 27-yard line to the 6.

“We felt like we could continue to run on them, and we took an eight-point lead,” Versey said. “With the time winding down — it was just not in the stars tonight.”



Both teams punted on their next possession before Sanford’s 91-yard drive.

There was only one punt in the first half, and that came on Lewiston’s first drive of the game. The rest of the half was an action-packed, score-and-respond showdown.

Cam Suhy put Sanford up 7-0 in the first quarter with a 6-yard run.

Bigelow responded with a 59-yard sweep for the first of his three TDs to tie the game for Lewiston.

Bissonette’s first clutch run came on a fourth-and-2 at Lewiston’s 3-yard line for his first TD of the game. The extra point gave Sanford a 14-7 lead.


“Jordan is a throwback kid; he really is,” Fallon said. “He’s a special kid. We really appreciate him.”

Muhammed-Aceto then scored for Lewiston on a 23-yard scamper to again tie the contest at 14-14.

Muhammed-Aceto finished his final high school game with 74 yards rushing and two touchdowns.

Bissonnette (5 yards) and Bigelow (17 yards) each added another touchdown run before halftime to make it 21-21.

Bigelow racked up 129 yards on the ground Friday. He also caught a 51-yard pass from Randall.

Bissonnette finished with 180 yards rushing.

“Anybody who paid five bucks got their money’s worth, and they should probably come back and pay some more,” Fallon said. “I can’t say enough about Coach Versey and his staff and his kids — he has done a tremendous job changing the culture here.

“He has a really good football team and he has those kids believing. They are talented and tough.”

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