BANGOR — The Mt. Blue Cougars came to town Saturday armed with the most prolific passing offense in the Pine Tree Conference Class A football ranks.
But Bangor High School defensive end John Kelley and his teammates forced the “Cougar Gun” to fire a series of self-inflicted wounds, as the Rams’ defense induced five turnovers while cruising to a 39-7 victory at Cameron Stadium on a breezy Saturday afternoon.
“They’re obviously a great passing team,” said Bangor senior strong safety Dylan Morris. “But our defense sets the tone for us. We came out ball-hungry and ready to play, and it worked out.”
The win leaves Bangor at 5-0 with a road game at Oxford Hills of South Paris next weekend before a showdown at Lawrence of Fairfield on Oct. 15.
Mt. Blue, unbeaten until losing to Lawrence last weekend, is now 3-2.
Mt. Blue quarterback Jordan Whitney began the day averaging more than 150 passing yards per game, but completed just 3-of-12 attempts for 17 yards with three interceptions.
“We have levels of defense that focus on the run, the line and the linebackers, and then the DBs focus on pass then run,” said Morris. “It’s a great team effort.”
Bangor won easily despite losing starting tailback and defensive end Josiah Hartley to a possible head injury midway through the second quarter.
But the Rams dominated through its defense, with three of the five turnovers leading to touchdown drives of 32, 7 and 7 yards.
“I think we played really aggressive today with a lot of energy on defense,” said Bangor coach Mark Hackett. “We very rarely do that against them because they force you to play passive and conservative defense, but we just got off to a great start and then it was tough for them.”
Kelley intercepted Whitney’s first two passes of the game, and Zeb Tuell added another interception that led to a fourth-quarter touchdown.
“I think that pretty much set the tone that this was going to be a hard game for them,” Kelley said, “because we had studied them and knew what they were doing.”
The Rams also had two fumble recoveries, one by Tyler Shanklin and the other on special teams by Ian Roberts.
Bangor’s offense, meanwhile, managed 303 total yards. Hartley rushed for 89 yards on 17 carries before leaving the contest, while Cody Chapman added 68 yards on three fourth-quarter tries — the final carry a 59-yard touchdown run with 20.1 seconds remaining.
Wyatt Frost replaced Hartley in the lineup and amassed 43 yards and two rushing touchdowns, while quarterback Joe Seccareccia passed for 69 yards and a touchdown and rushed for 29 yards and another score.
Mt. Blue, playing without injured starting tailback Izaiha Tracy, had its only bright spot early in the second quarter when Cam Sennick raced 74 yards for a touchdown.
Frost returned the game’s opening kickoff 68 yards to set up Bangor’s first score, a 15-yard pass from Seccareccia to Hartley on a fourth-and-9 play with 9:11 left in the first quarter.
“We knew it was going to be a deep kick because of the wind, but the wedge was perfect, they blocked everyone,” said Frost. “We didn’t feel like we had warmed up sufficiently before the game and felt a little slow, but the kickoff was a good momentum starter.”
On the second play after the subsequent kickoff, Kelley stepped in front of a Whitney pass in the right flat and made the interception to give Bangor the ball at the Mt. Blue 32.
Hartley rushed for 7 yards on the next play, then scored by going off left tackle the final 25 yards to the end zone to make it 13-0 with 7:41 left in the period.
Kelley intercepted another Whitney pass along the sideline and returned it to the Mt. Blue 7 two possessions later, leading to a 1-yard sneak by Seccareccia that extended Bangor’s lead to 19-0 with 1:50 left in the quarter.
“Usually if anyone crosses your face it’s going to be a screen or a little short pass,” said Kelley. “The first one was a pass in the flat and I just backed up, and the second one was the same play, I think.”
Sennick’s long run — which accounted for more than one-third of Mt. Blue’s 204 total yards — closed the gap to 19-7 with 9:41 left in the half, but Bangor answered with a 12-play, 67-yard march to push its lead back to 25-7 on a 3-yard run by Frost with 4:24 remaining in the second quarter. Seccareccia kept the drive alive with two third-down pass completions to Kelley, one for 17 yards and the second for a 21-yard gain to the Mt. Blue 7.
Bangor added two fourth-quarter touchdowns, the first after Tuell intercepted a pass at the Bangor 38 and returned it 55 yards to the Mt. Blue 7. Frost then scored from the 1 on a fourth-and-goal play.
Mt. Blue (3-2) 0 7 0 0——7
Bangor (5-0) 19 6 0 14—39
B-Hartley 15 pass from Seccareccia (Farnham kick)
B-Hartley 25 run (kick failed)
B-Seccareccia 1 run (pass failed)
MB-Sennick 74 run (Keach kick)
B-Frost 3 run (rush failed)
B-Frost 1 run (Tuell pass from Seccareccia)
B-Chapman 59 run (rush failed)