Delayed reaction: Mariners upend Warriors in two-day season openerDespite game's initial suspension, Meklin's five TDs lead hosts to next day win
Rockland — Oceanside football coach Woody Moore had roughly 15 hours to decide what play to call next.
His decision? A quarterback keeper, right up the middle.
"We took every angle possible," said Moore. "We made up tape and broke it down. We had nine plays to look at and we looked at them for about an hour. It was kind of a cool thing to be able to game plan for your next play like that."
While senior signal-caller Sam Meklin did not find paydirt on his first plunge, he did on the second, which ultimately gave the host Mariners (1-0) just enough cushion to hold off visiting Nokomis of Newport (0-1) 34-27 in the first high school football game of the season for both squads Sept. 1 on Wasgatt Field.
In fact, Meklin had a part in five touchdowns to key the Mariners' home- and season-opening victory.
"Sam had a great game," said Moore. "He made some really good choices and made, in my mind, what was the play of the game [in the third quarter] on a fourth-and-long. He had guys hanging off him and he made a little shovel pass to Dan Hendricks to get the first down, and that was a big play."
The game between the Mariners and Warriors began Friday night, Aug. 31 an hour late of its scheduled 7 p.m. kickoff thanks to a thunder and lightning storm which landed in the heart of the Midcoast.
That game began at 8 p.m., but with 8:35 remaining in the first quarter, more lightning appeared, which prompted another automatic 30-minute delay, due to the dangerous weather conditions.
As the lightning persisted, the game was suspended and set to resume on Saturday morning — at 11 a.m. — in the midst of a Mariner scoring drive.
"There was a lot of adversity for kids and coaches to kind of work through," said Moore. "We talked to them a lot, we did a lot of walk throughs and just tried to keep them focused."
The Mariners congregated in South School's multi-purpose room, while the Warriors were in the Rockland District Middle School gymnasium during Friday night's delays.
Facing third-and-goal on the five-yard line to start the day Saturday, Meklin pushed forward for four yards and got the final yard, for the game's first score, on fourth-and-goal from the one-yard line with 7:48 remaining in the opening quarter.
That culminated a drive that began hours earlier on Friday night and finished Saturday morning.
After the two-point conversion attempt failed, Oceanside again hit paydirt on its next possession when Mekin found senior wide receiver Matt Zable for a five-yard scoring pass, followed by a Meklin rush on the two-point conversion, which put the hosts up 14-0 with 2:24 remaining in the first stanza.
The Warriors responded in the second quarter and rallied to make things interesting, beginning with a 55-yard touchdown pass from Chandler Foss, a ball which went through the hands of Zable and into the clutches of Josh King, who was off to the races for the visitors' first score.
Oceanside responded with a 20-yard TD reception by Jacob Butman, but a one-yard touchdown run with time winding down in the first half by Warrioer Foss and a pair of extra points later saw Nokomis climb within 20-14 heading into halftime.
The scoring continued in the second half when Meklin hooked up with Hendricks for a 62-yard scoring strike with 7:07 remaining in the third quarter, but Nokomis responded with a two-yard TD run by Noah Kershner, which left Oceanside clinging to a 26-21 advantage.
The Warriors appeared to seize the momentum after Dominick Erickson picked off a Meklin pass, but Meklin proved valuable on special teams after Nokomis went three-and-out on its ensuing possession, as Meklin wrapped up the visiting punter for a 21-yard loss, a play that put the Mariners in strong field position.
Oceanside then marched down the field as Meklin found senior Raheem James on a nine-yard touchdown pass and Hendricks on the two-point conversion, to give the hosts a 34-21 advantage.
Nokomis closed in yet again when Foss found King on a three-yard touchdown, but the extra-point kick was blocked with 3:28 left.
Oceanside ran the clock down on its ensuing possession and punted the ball back to Nokomis with 30 seconds left, but Mariner Preston Spear picked off a deep Foss pass and ran the clock out, to ensure the hosts' first win of the new campaign.
Meklin was 12-of-20 passing for 245 yards, with four touchdowns through the air and another on the ground for Oceanside, while Hendricks made six catches for 164 yards and had five rushes for 35 yards.
Dan Stone was tremendous on special teams for Oceanside, compiling 87 yards on three returns, while also hauling in a 20-yard catch and rushing 13 times for 33 yards. Zable added three catches for 32 yards and a touchdown for the hosts.
Foss was 8-of-25 under center for Nokomis, with two TDs, while Kershner racked up 114 yards on 26 carries.
Additional Mariner stats include: Raheem James (reception, nine yards, touchdown), Jacob Butman (reception, 20 yards, touchdown), Sam Meklin (12 carries, 13 yards, touchdown, 2-point conversion)
There was plenty of drama for the Mariners in recent days as they learned they would have their veteran head coach, Moore, for the season just a few days earlier. Then Oceanside had its home and season opener postponed due to dangerous weather, something seldom happens during the fall school athletic seasons, before returning the next day to notch a victory.
Courier Publications Associate Sports Director Mark Haskell can be reached at 207-594-4401 or by email at firstname.lastname@example.org.