TURNER — In a rare matchup between defending state champions, the reigning Maine Gatorade Player of the Year played a starring role for the winning team.

Leavitt senior quarterback Noah Carpenter factored into two first-half touchdowns, but it was a defensive play that sealed the Hornets’ 21-14 victory over Oxford Hills at Libby Field on Saturday night.

The Leavitt (4-0) offense was held to 9 yards in the second half, so its defense had to step up and slow down the high-powered Vikings (3-1) attack.

Carpenter made the final key stop in a scoreless fourth quarter, running in from his safety spot to knock down a fourth-down Oxford Hills pass with 1:25 left to play.

“At the end, we kind of put in our dime group, which was our coverage group, and we kind of just passed everything (in coverage) and worked as a team,” Carpenter said. “And that’s what really got the job done at the end.”

Oxford Hills quarterback Brady Truman was 11 for 15 in the second half, including 7 for 7 in the third quarter. He had completed four straight passes on the Vikings’ final drive before a pressured overthrow preceded Carpenter’s pass breakup.


“I thought we had them over there on that last play of ours, and Noah came down and made a great play on the ball,” Oxford Hills coach Mark Soehren said. “So it’s just the way it is sometimes, you know? I told the kids, ‘Sometimes you lose football games.'”

Two quarterback runs and a kneel-down ran out the remainder of the clock out to secure a homecoming win by the defending Class C state champion Hornets.

Oxford Hills, the reigning Class A state champions, did its best to rally in the second half after going into halftime down 21-7.

The Vikings’ passing attack pulled them within one score on the opening possession of the third quarter, as Brady Truman lofted a 25-yard touchdown pass to Brayden Murch. Brady Delamater kicked the extra point to make it a seven-point game midway through the third quarter.

The Oxford Hills defense quickly gave a preview of how stingy it would be in the second half, forcing the Hornets into the first of a trio of three-and-outs in the third and fourth quarters.

Carpenter still found a way to make his mark, diving to make an interception on the Vikings’ ensuing drive that brought the marquee matchup into the fourth quarter.


“You know, some of the plays he made up around the box, tackling (Oxford Hills running back Hunter) Tardiff, and then obviously some of the plays he made in the pass game later were just big plays,” Leavitt coach Mike Hathaway said.

The teams traded three straight three-and-outs, after which Oxford Hills took the ball with 6:35 left. The Vikings drove from their own 10-yard line into Hornets territory, but Carpenter’s game-sealing knockdown ended the 12-play possession as well as the Vikings’ hopes at the Leavitt 33-yard line.

“I was proud of the way they held their own in the second half. They gave up 21 points in the first half and gave up zero (in the second). You know, that was a great job by the defense,” Soehren said. “The offense, we moved the ball and we got to figure out a way — and maybe that’s on me — to figure out how to score in that red zone.”


Leavitt had the ball first in the battle of unbeatens and drew first blood, and they drew it quick.

After two handoffs, Carpenter kept the ball on the third play of game, and he sliced through the middle of the field on his way to a 55-yard touchdown run. He then kicked the extra point and Leavitt was up 7-0 less than two minutes in.


“That felt amazing, especially getting up early,” Carpenter said. “We would have probably liked to defer and let them have the ball, but we lost the toss, so came out and we were like, ‘We got to put together a good drive,’ and scoring and getting up early was kind of a big momentum swing. And then we knew from there that we were going to have a game.”

“When you play Oxford Hills, there’s always got to be a little bit of like, ‘They’re the best team in Maine.’ We talked about just getting off to a good start,” Hathaway said. “Like it didn’t necessarily have to be a score, but we got to string together some first downs if we get the ball first, and just let them know that we’re here to play. And the O-line really opened some big holes.”

The Vikings countered with a longer drive, but the Hornets defense kept them off the scoreboard when Landon Daigle made a diving interception in the end zone.

Leavitt’s ensuing drive spilled into the second quarter. Two plays into the period, Will Keach ran in a touchdown from 17 yards out. Carpenter’s kick made it 14-0.

The Hornets got the ball right back when Brandon Bilodeau picked off a deep pass on Oxford Hills’ first play.

However, the Vikings defense did their part and forced Leavitt into a three-and-out.


The teams traded punts, giving the Vikings the ball with 1:57 left in the first half.

Truman capped off the six-play drive with a 6-yard touchdown pass to Nick Binette. Delamater’s extra point slimmed the Vikings’ deficit to 14-7 with 37.3 seconds left before halftime.

That was plenty of time for the Leavitt offense.

Keach took the kickoff 40 yards to midfield, and the Hornets needed just two plays for Carpenter to connect with Aiden Turcotte on a 29-yard touchdown pass with 8.3 seconds left. A Carpenter PAT and a Truman kneel-down sent Leavitt into the half up 21-7.

“The kick return to set that up was huge. Keach getting that thing out here — because if we were back there, we wouldn’t have taken those shots. But when he got it up around midfield, we’re like, ‘All right, we got a couple of chunk plays we can throw at them, and maybe we get one in the end zone,'” Hathaway said. “You know, (Turcotte) made a great catch and turned it up the sideline, Keach laid a block downfield on it. That’s just guys making good football plays, doing what they’re supposed to do.”

Carpenter ran for over 100 yards in the first half — 104, to be exact, on seven carries. He finished with 112 yards on 13 carries, to go along with 40 yards passing — all in the first half — on 3-for-9 passing. On defense, he was in on double-digit tackles.

Truman was 17 for 26 for 180 yards passing. The Vikings outgained the Hornets 267-212, including a 151-9 edge in the second half.

However, the Hornets won the turnover battle, 3-0. The Vikings also had four fumbled snaps. They recovered all four, but lost a chunk of yards each time.

“We can’t make that many mistakes if we want to go and contend for a state championship again,” Soehren said. “There’s other good teams on our schedule. I mean, I think right now we probably have the hardest schedule out there. So we just got to go and play. I mean, I don’t mind being tested. You want to win every game. We’ll be tested by the time we get to playoffs.”

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