Bangor High School head football coach Dave Morris is seen as the Rams defeat the Brewer Witches at the season opener on Friday, Sept. 3, 2021, in Brewer, Maine. Credit: Lindsay Putnam / BDN

Ryan Howard plays catcher on the Bangor High School baseball team, but don’t let that fool you.

The senior wide receiver and defensive back displayed sprinter’s speed for the Rams’ football team Saturday night, taking the opening kickoff 84 yards for a touchdown in just 12 seconds to establish immediate momentum, and Bangor used its ground game and defense from there to pull away from Lewiston 42-6 in a Class A clash at Hampden Academy.

“That play brings a lot of energy,” said Bangor senior halfback Joey Morrison, who followed up Howard’s kick return by rushing for 180 yards and four touchdowns on 28 carries. “I’m telling him every game, ‘You’re going to take one back,’ and he does it. It was awesome.”

The win gives Bangor its first 2-0 start to a season since 2014 when the Rams won their first four games, and also marks the team’s first victory over Lewiston since a 41-0 decision over the Blue Devils in Week 6 of the 2014 season.

While Morrison was spearheading the offense for coach Dave Morris’ Bangor club, the Rams’ defense allowed 0-2 Lewiston just 77 yards of total offense and secured a second-quarter safety when Blue Devils running back Eli Bigelow was tackled in his team’s end zone by Morrison and senior linebacker Kevin Grover.

Senior linebacker Cooper Ireland added a fumble recovery for the Rams, who also recorded five quarterback sacks.

“It’s called the ‘Green Light Defense,’” Grover said, “That means we’re always going, we’re always moving forward to the next play, which is awesome.”

Bangor’s offense finished with 251 rushing yards on 38 carries behind the line play of seniors Luke Missbrenner, Mike Smith, Jake Hirsch and Gavin Young and junior Austin Lozano.

Rams senior quarterback Max Clark added 104 passing yards, with classmate Keegan Cyr making three catches for 26 yards and rushing for 36 yards on two carries while sophomore wideout Landon Clark had two receptions for 63 yards.

Howard caught the opening kickoff at the Bangor 16-yard line, then sprinted through a well-blocked seam in Lewiston’s kick coverage and raced down the left sideline to the end zone with 11:48 left in the first period.

“I saw a lot of open holes,” Howard said of the play. “There were a lot of good blocks by my team, that’s the reason the whole thing happened. The speed’s there, but there was a big hole.”

Morrison scored on runs of 2 and 3 yards during the first half — the latter touchdown with just 38.5 seconds left before intermission after a 49-yard Landon Clark catch and run —  to give Bangor a 22-0 halftime advantage. He added a 6-yard scoring run midway through the third quarter before capping off his performance after a quick three-and-out by Lewiston with his longest touchdown run of the night, a 50-yard sprint to the end zone with 4:54 left in the third period.

Lewiston nearly scored on the subsequent kickoff when kick returner Dylan Allen initially fumbled the ball inside the Blue Devils’ 5-yard line but gained control and raced out to the 43 before Bangor’s last line of defense, kicker Parker Richmond, came on to make the saving tackle.

A 5-yard touchdown pass from Lewiston sophomore quarterback Michael Klick to senior wideout Donovan Jackson on a fourth-down play midway through the fourth quarter ultimately foiled Bangor’s shutout bid.

Bangor still led 36-6, and Max Clark rounded out the scoring by faking a handoff to Cabryn Steams and rushing untouched into the end zone from 2 yards out with 1:55 left in the game.

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Ernie Clark

Ernie Clark is a veteran sportswriter who has worked with the Bangor Daily News for more than a decade. A four-time Maine Sportswriter of the Year as selected by the National Sportscasters and Sportswriters...