PORTLAND — On a weekend otherwise crammed with classic championship contests, the Class C football final looked like any other Leavitt game.
The opponent scored first. Somebody in green got hurt.
And then the Hornets got angry and spent the rest of Saturday night pummeling the Winslow Black Raiders into submission.
Nate Rousseau, Billy Bedard and Nate Coombs each scored two touchdowns in a 47-18 Leavitt victory that was a gem in all phases.
“‘We’ve won a couple of championships when we were younger, but nothing’s better than bringing this Gold Ball back to Leavitt,” senior two-way lineman Matt Powell said.
Leavitt (11-0) won its sixth state championship and capped its fourth unbeaten season since 1995.
Rousseau, whose role increased dramatically when senior tailback/defensive end Conor O’Malley left the game with a knee injury, rushed for 145 of his game-high 161 yards in the second half.
“Before this year I wasn’t a starter,” Rousseau said. “I had a total of 10 carries last season. I worked my butt off. (Coach) Mike Hathaway noticed, gave me a chance and I did what I could with it.”
Bedard chalked up another 102 yards, and more dramatic and significant for Coombs than his 98 yards rushing was his 91 yard kick return for a touchdown in the second quarter to land Leavitt the lead for good.
Zach Guptill had just scored on a 34-yard run. Dylan Hapworth’s point-after kick gave the Black Raiders a 10-6 lead, and his ensuing kickoff backed up Coombs to the 9-yard line.
Coombs raced toward the Winslow sideline, where he saw two defenders converging near the 25.
“I looked left real quick and put my foot on the ground and made a cutback and saw a bunch of open space. I got some key blocks from a couple guys and they really just sprung me free,” Coombs said. “In two years I haven’t returned a kick and guys always gave me crap for it. I told them after I was just saving it.”
“It’s the first kick return I ever remember since I’ve been here,” Hathaway added. “I’m not sure we’ve ever returned one. To have it happen in a state game, we’ll take it.”
Leavitt rode the momentum of that special teams home run through the remainder of a first half in which it recovered two Winslow fumbles as well as an unintentional onside kick.
And another terrific runback by Coombs — this one 18 yards after a Guptill punt — set up a scoring match in the final three minutes. Rousseau’s 12-yard run up the middle led to a 5-yard scoring toss from Tyler Chicoine to Mitchel Davis and a 20-10 lead.
Leavitt also owned the option on the second-half kickoff, which paid dividends when Rousseau raced 60 yards for his first score.
He took an option pitch to the right, turned on a dime and went the distance along a jubilant Leavitt sideline.
“I love playing on turf. I knew I would love it and it just showed,” Rousseau said.
Coincidentally enough, the injury replacement was banged up, himself. Rousseau suffered a partial tear of his quadriceps during a semifinal win over Cape Elizabeth.
“I worked with the trainer. It hurt a little bit, but I knew I had to play through it. I had no choice,” Rousseau said.
Winslow (9-2) stayed alive with the help of a 41-yard run by Guptill. That led to Guptill’s own 3-yard plunge and a PAT rush by Hapworth for a 26-18 deficit with 3:54 remaining in the third.
The Hornets’ defense buckled down after Hapworth (22 carries, 123 yards) and Guptill (15 for 97) shredded them early.
Hapworth was held to eight yards after intermission.
“They were running right double dive on every single play,” Powell said. “We knew it was coming, but it’s a quick hitter and we couldn’t seem to stop it.”
The fourth quarter was all Leavitt.
Rousseau ran 33 yards for a score. Coombs picked off a pass deep in Winslow territory, then finished the work himself with a 4-yard TD.
Bedard added a 7-yard run for the final margin.