PORTLAND, Maine — An anticipated battle of speed versus size went the quicker guys’ way Saturday as Lisbon defeated previously undefeated Bucksport 28-8 to capture the Class D football state championship at Fitzpatrick Stadium.
Lisbon (8-3) turned its speed advantage over the much larger Golden Bucks into key plays at important points of the game to win its first gold ball since 2006.
“We knew they outweighed us by a ton, and that’s probably not an exaggeration,” Lisbon senior wide receiver and defensive back Riley Quantrano said. “We knew that if we used our speed to our advantage we could control the line of scrimmage and run to the outside and throw the football, and that’s what we did.”
Bucksport, seeking its first state title since 2004, finished its season at 9-1.
“We made a lot of mistakes, and they played very well,” Bucksport coach Joel Sankey said. “They’re a good football team, the best team we’ve played all year.”
Bucksport’s ground-control offense outgained Lisbon 299-264 in total yardage as freshman halfback Jaxon Gross rushed for a game-high 192 yards and the Golden Bucks’ lone touchdown on 31 carries.
But the team’s methodical rushing nature was slowed by eight penalties for 65 yards, many in untimely situations that forced Bucksport into passing situations — and the Golden Bucks were just 4 of 13 through the air.
“We didn’t play anywhere near what we’re capable of playing but you’ve got to give Lisbon credit,” Sankey said. “They played very well. They’re fast, they executed very well and we didn’t. It’s as simple as that. We made too many mistakes.”
Lisbon’s trend toward bigger plays was evidenced by its average of 7.9 yards per rushing attempt. That effort was led by Dakota McIver’s 100 yards and a touchdown on nine carries and 89 yards and a score on 10 rushes by senior quarterback Seth Leeman.
Leeman also completed 5 of 11 passes for 86 yards with a touchdown and an interception, while Justin Le scored two touchdowns.
“We knew they were going to be a big, physical team coming into this game and we thought we were going to have to bend a little bit on defense and not give up big plays,” Lisbon coach Chris Kates said. “They definitely were gaining some yards, but we were tackling before they busted off any 40-yard runs. We were able to keep them to 4- or 5- or 6-yard gains to just hopefully wear them out over the course of the game.”
Bucksport dominated possession of the ball during the first half, running 36 plays compared to just 15 for Lisbon.
But the Greyhounds used their speed to take a 14-8 lead into intermission.
Lisbon ran eight of its first-half plays from scrimmage during its first possession, a 48-yard march that ended with Seth Leeman’s 17-yard touchdown pass to Le with 7:21 left in the first quarter.
Isaac Potvin’s extra-point kick game the Greyhounds a quick 7-0 lead.
Bucksport then drove from its 25-yard line to the Lisbon 7 in 18 plays. But an illegal procedure penalty against the Golden Bucks and a pass incompletion led to a fourth-and-11 play from the 12 that came up short when Lisbon’s Robbie Dick stopped Tyler Hallett for a 3-yard gain on a pass from Brady Findlay.
Gross ran the ball on all 10 plays of Bucksport’s next possession, a 51-yard drive that culminated when he scored from 1 yard out with 3:44 left in a briskly played first half.
Gross added the two-point conversion run to give Bucksport an 8-7 lead.
While Bucksport required more than 5 minutes to score, Lisbon needed just a single, 11-second play to regain the lead. Leeman raced down the left sideline on the Greyhounds’ first play after the kickoff to score on a 55-yard run that made it 14-8.
Bucksport outgained Lisbon 150-105 in total yardage in the opening half, with Gross rushing for 102 yards on 21 carries.
Lisbon had more success controlling the ball after intermission and extended its lead as Le scored on a 1-yard run with 2:15 left in the third quarter to complete an eight-play, 52-yard possession.
McIver added a 51-yard scoring run with 1:51 left in the game.