The unbeaten Foxcroft Academy football team has been best known this fall for its plethora of offensive playmakers.

But make sure not to sell the Ponies’ defense short.

Coach Danny White’s club employed a bend-but-not-break approach to its defensive effort Saturday night and secured its second straight postseason shutout with a 27-0 victory over Oak Hill of Wales at Oakes Field in Dover-Foxcroft to advance to next Friday night’s Class D state championship game.

Top-seeded Foxcroft (10-0) will play Winthrop-Monmouth-Hall-Dale (7-1) for the gold ball at Cameron Stadium in Bangor. The second-seeded Ramblers defeated No. 3 Freeport 28-19 in Saturday’s other semifinal.

Foxcroft defeated Winthrop 24-14 in their Week 7 regular-season encounter.

No. 4 Oak Hill ends its season at 5-3.

While Oak Hill ran 31 offensive plays to just 13 for Foxcroft during the first half, the Ponies went into the break with a 14-0 lead forged in great part by their defense.

Senior linebacker Jesse Drury scored the first of his three touchdowns on the night with a 44-yard interception return to give Foxcroft a 7-0 lead with 2:49 left in the first quarter.

Pressure by Foxcroft sophomore defensive end Devin Henderson forced Oak Hill quarterback Jackson Arbour to float a pass off his back foot into the right flat, and Drury was there for the pick and the return to break the scoreless deadlock.

After the Ponies doubled their lead when senior quarterback Austin Seavey lofted a 12-yard pass over a defender to classmate Gideon Topolski in the back right corner of the end zone and Kemsley Marsters added his second extra-point kick with 10:48 left before halftime, they withstood Oak Hill’s subsequent 18-play, 79-yard march to the 1-yard line that chewed up 9 minutes and 48 seconds off the clock with three straight stops near the goal line to keep the shutout intact.

“We have a goal-line defense where some of the linebackers pretty much blitz so they don’t run it inside and then our outside guys get the flats so collectively we stopped them,” Drury said.

One of the pivotal players in that stand was senior two-way tackle Anthony Smith, who finished the game with a team-high nine tackles.

“We’ve been working on our defense the whole year and have gotten way better since the year started,” he said. “Our defensive line has been working hard, we’re good at goal-line defense and we showed it there.”

Foxcroft followed up that stand by allowing Oak Hill just 74 of its 205 total yards after intermission, 47 on a fourth-quarter run by senior running back Tiger Hopkins.

Sophomore linebacker Gage Beaudry added eight tackles for Foxcroft, while Topolski was credited with six stops and junior defensive lineman D.J. Scheel contributed five tackles.

“Everyone’s been talking about our offense and rightfully so, but our first-unit defense, our varsity defense, has given up 69 points in 10 games so there’s something there, too,” White said. “We want to continue to build on that. If we’re playing good defense we’re keeping ourselves in the game.”

Drury added touchdown runs of 2 and 6 yards on back-to-back Foxcroft possessions after intermission, the first score capping off a 23-yard mini-march after Smith and Topolski stopped Caden Thompson for no gain on a fourth-and-1 play from the Raiders’ 23-yard line to end Oak Hill’s first possession of the second half.

Drury rushed for 121 yards on 16 carries to pace Foxcroft’s offense while Beaudry added 50 yards on 13 rushes.

Seavey completed 7 of 10 passes for 92 yards, with sophomore wideout Jaydon Richard making two catches for 53 yards.

Hopkins led Oak Hill with 93 yards on 13 rushes while Thompson added 66 yards on 17 carries.

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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...