BANGOR, Maine — When speed was needed, Jared Jensen ran past people.
When strength was required, the senior running back powered over defenders.
And when a change of direction could prove pivotal, Jensen read his blocks and quickly turned where they led him Friday night — to a stunning 428-yard, five-touchdown performance on 37 carries that lifted Brunswick to a season-opening 36-28 Class A football victory over Bangor at the Winkin Complex on the campus of Husson University.
“That was the plan from the get-go, for me to get 40 carries,” said Jensen. “That’s what coach [Dan Cooper] wanted from me, and once we got going we all got excited and showed we can do good things this year.”
Bangor found few ways to take down Jensen, a two-time state championship wrestler, particularly during the first half when he rushed for 242 yards with scoring runs of 55, 48, 84 and 3 yards as the Dragons erased a 15-0 Bangor first-quarter lead with 29 unanswered points before intermission.
“We just knew if we were going to beat a team like Bangor we had to give our best player the ball every time,” said Cooper. “We thought he might approach 40 carries, but we knew we had to do that to beat them.
“Jared’s a championship wrestler and his endurance is off the charts, so if there was one kid who could do it, it was him and we had to milk it tonight.”
So dominant was Jensen that Brunswick barely needed to turn elsewhere to find offense. The Dragons never attempted a pass, and quarterback Jason Carter was credited with five carries, including three fumbled snaps, while Alex Bandouveres rushed once for 4 yards while Jensen was sidelined briefly with leg cramps.
“I got just a little bit tired,” said Jensen. “I had a couple of breaks, but I had to get out there and lead my team.”
Bangor closed to within 29-21 on a 46-yard touchdown run in the third quarter by senior Cody Chapman, but Jensen answered with a 75-yard touchdown run on Brunswick’s next play from scrimmage to restore the Dragons to a 36-21 cushion with 5:14 left in the third quarter.
Bangor pulled back to within one possession again when quarterback Carl Farnham hit tight end Nick Ashey over the middle with a 22-yard touchdown pass with 3:49 left in the game, but seven consecutive carries by Jensen good for 38 yards helped Brunswick run out the clock.
“[Jensen’s] a good player, and they were good up front,” said Bangor coach Mark Hackett. “They were doubling us up front and they got seams and we overran a lot. They were running their offense the way we’d like to run our offense.”
Chapman led Bangor’s attack with 241 rushing yards on 19 carries, including a 98-yard touchdown run with 2:09 left in the opening quarter to give Bangor its 15-point lead.
Bangor’s first touchdown came just 1:06 into the game when Farnham (9 of 16 passing, 104 yards, two TDs, one INT) connected with Logan Lanham on a 33-yard scoring pass.
But after Chapman’s first-quarter touchdown, an inside run during which he broke a tackle just beyond the line of scrimmage before sprinting down the left sideline, Brunswick’s defense stiffened enough to give its offense a chance to mount a comeback.
The Dragons stopped Bangor twice on downs inside Brunswick territory during the second quarter, first at the 28-yard line and the second time at the 16. Those stops not only fueled Brunswick’s momentum, but quickly fed its offense.
“We preach fortitude all the time and pride and never giving up,” said Cooper of coping with the early deficit. “We play hard, we stay the course, and if you do that the scoreboard will take care of itself.”
Jensen took care of the scoreboard for the Dragons, following that second defensive stand with his 84-yard touchdown run down the left sideline on the next play to give Brunswick a 21-15 lead with 2:12 left in the first half.
“When the defense stopped them, it really gave momentum to the offense,” said Jensen. “And then when we scored that touchdown right after we stopped them, we just kept going from there.”
Brunswick linebacker Ryan Maciejewski intercepted a first-down pass by Farnham on Bangor’s next possession and returned the turnover to the Bangor 6. Two plays later, Jensen scored from the 3 to give the Dragons’ a two-touchdown lead to take into intermission.
“This is a big momentum boost for our team,” said Jensen. “Everyone around the state was saying we were going to be near the bottom of the East this year, but we proved tonight we can be at the top of the charts.”