BIDDEFORD, Maine — Defense be darned.
The East scored a team-record 58 points and combined with the West for game-record 110 overall points in the East’s 58-52 victory in the 27th Maine Shrine Lobster Bowl Classic at Waterhouse Field on Saturday.
“That’s a first for me and a lot of other guys,” said West quarterback Dalton Therrien of Oak Hill High School, who scored two touchdowns. “A hundred-and-ten points in a high school football game is crazy.”
The East, which narrowed the West’s overall series lead to 18-9, jumped on the scoreboard early — with some help from the West. The opening kickoff went between West returners Cullen McCarty and Lucas Rhoy, who both tried to catch the kick but instead teamed up for a fumble. The East recovered, and barely looked back.
Brunswick’s Will Bessey ran in for a score on the third play of the game to put the East up 6-0. The West countered with a 2-yard run from team MVP Zach Doyon, of Marshwood, followed by a 2-point throw from Therrien to Doyon, to make it 8-6.
Bangor’s Dane Johnson ran in from 16 yards out for the East on the ensuing drive, and Portland running back Joe Esposito tossed a 2-point score to Old Town’s Andre Miller for a 14-8 East lead.
The West had a short drive end with a punt from Leavitt’s Levi Craig — which turned out to be the lone punt of the game. The East got the ball back in West territory and needed just six plays for an Esposito touchdown run.
The East got the ball right back thanks to a successful squib kick that bounced off a West up-man. The ensuing drive lasted one play into the second quarter, and Esposito barreled in from a yard out to make it 30-8.
The West regained its scoring touch on the next drive. Using eight runs (including four from Doyon) and one pass, the West cut the deficit to 30-14 with a 1-yard QB keeper by Therrien.
At that point in the game, it was Miller time. The Old Town receiver was targeted four straight times by teammate Jake Jarvis, and caught two of them, including a 13-yard scoring strike.
The West sandwiched a pair of scoring drives (with Craig touchdown passes going to Thornton Academy’s Corey Hart and Doyon) around a failed fourth-down pass from the East on a bad punt snap, cutting the lead to 36-30 with 22 seconds left in the half.
That was more than enough time for Miller, who caught a short pass from Madison’s Chase Malloy on the East’s next play, then ran up the sideline, hurdled a defender, and coasted in for six with 4.4 seconds left for a 44-30 East lead at halftime.
“I’m just kind of a big receiver. Unless if there’s a big corner on me, it’s kind of a mismatch,” said Miller, the East MVP. “They were playing kind of far back in the beginning of the game. So we just kept doing short routes. It worked out.”
In a game that feature roughly 150 plays, Miller made the most of getting the ball in his hands eight times on offense. He caught seven passes for 207 yards and four touchdowns, and also added a 6-yard run.
“I just wanted to make a play every time I touched the ball because I knew we had a lot of playmakers on our team,” Miller said. “I just knew every time that I got the ball I just had to make something happen because I wasn’t going to get it much.”
Miller almost had another touchdown on the East’s first drive of the second half, but Yarmouth’s Jack Snyder jumped in front of a Malloy pass intended for Miller at the goal line, then returned the pick 45 yards. Therrien later ran in from one yard out on fourth down to cut the game to 44-38.
Miller countered with his third scoring catch of the game, and second from Jarvis, from 40 yards out and off a deflection.
“It was still there,” Miller said of his chemistry with Jarvis. “You could tell.”
York’s Cullen McCarty did the scoring honors for the West next, rumbling in from seven yards out. Then after the East opened the fourth quarter with a drive ending in an overthrow from Jarvis to Miller, Doyon scored from one yard out to tie the game 52-52.
“Coming from behind, it was hard, but we did a good job of battling the entire game and never giving up,” Therrien said.
“It shows what kind of character they have, they didn’t give up,” added Stacen Doucette, Oak Hill’s coach who led the West coaching staff.
Jarvis and Miller hooked up one last time for a score, ending the quartet of touchdown strikes with a 46-yarder.
The West’s response was a three-and-out, punctuated by a Doyon 2-yard loss on a fake-punt run.
A 12-play, all-run drive by the East ran the clock down from six minutes to 17 seconds. Faced with 95 yards to go, the West pulled out some tricks. Craig hit Hart for a hook-and-ladder with Doyon on second down, then the West was given one last chance thanks to a pass interference penalty on the next play.
Therrien passed to Doyon, who ran up the left sideline before lateraling to McCarty, who then tossed it to Therrien, who ran out of room, time and options, and the game finally came to an end.
“I’ve been a part of a game that was a 42-35 state game, and it was whoever made the first mistake lost,” Doucette said. “We made a couple mistakes, and came out on the wrong side of the (scoreboard), but there’s no losers here in this game. Everybody’s smiling. They’re upset they lost, but they know they played well. And they know it’s for a good cause.”
Doyon led the West with three touchdowns (two running, one receiving). He ran 18 times for 75 yards and caught six passes for 56 more yards.
“He did everything today. All week we knew this kid was a stud,” Therrien said of Doyon. “I’ve played with some great running backs and (Zach and Cullen) are phenomenal. I felt like I was handing the ball right back off to Alex (Mace) and Kyle (Flaherty).”
The East had a three-headed monster at running back, with Esposito, Bessey and Messalonskee’s Jack Bernatchez. The East ran for 271 yards to go along with 298 passing yards from Jarvis and Malloy.
“We knew we could put points up because we knew we had a lot of playmakers,” Miller said. “We just tried to get everybody the ball in space, let people go to work, have mismatches. It worked out.”