Lions claw past Windjammers in season finale, qualify for postseasonNo. 7 Belfast to face No. 2 Leavitt in Oct. 26 quarterfinal
Rockport — The regular-season finale on the gridiron between Belfast and Camden Hills Oct. 19 saw a pair of teams going in different directions, but two squads who shared one goal: namely, finish the campaign strong, and beat the rain.
While the latter could not be helped, both the Windjammers and Lions played strong over the final 24 minutes Friday night's contest.
Unfortunately for the host Windjammers, the Lions dominated the first 24 minutes of the game, jumping to a 40-0 halftime lead and roared to a 60-15 victory.
The win cemented the Lions (4-4) a spot in the Eastern Class B playoffs, which begin on Friday, Oct. 26. The Windjammers' season ended at 1-7.
Belfast, the number seven seed, will travel to faced No. 2 Leavitt of Turner, the three-time defending regional champion, for a quarterfinal clash on Friday, Oct. 26 at 7 p.m.
The Lions were blanked 36-0 earlier in the season by the Hornets Sept. 7 in Turner.
On Friday, Travis Tufo rushed for 47 yards on six carries and three touchdowns, while also leading the defense with seven solo tackles and two assisted tackles. Mike McFadden (6 carries for 105 yards, 2 touchdowns), Carl Dodge (4 carries for 115 yards, touchdown) and Baxter Smith (reception for 15 yards, touchdown) keyed the Belfast offense.
Quarterback Zach Collier was 2-of-3 passing for 25 yards and one touchdown, while also rushing for 51 yards on seven carries and a score on the ground for the visitors.
Smith also returned an interception for a touchdown in the win for Belfast, while Dodge also picked off a Windjammer pass.
Alex Crans had a rushing touchdown for Camden Hills, while Connor Graffam connected with Coleman Powers on a touchdown pass. Nick Rozsahegyi also hit Powers on a two-point conversion pass and Ian Nason booted an extra point in the loss.
Friday's game between Camden Hills and Belfast originally was slated for a 7 p.m. start time, then 5:30 p.m., then moved up a second time to 5 p.m. the day of the game in an effort to beat the impending rain, which rocked the region over the weekend.
The sky opened up in the second quarter and the Lions, in turn, opened up their lead.
"We took it on the chin tonight," said Camden Hills coach Steve Wadsworth. "I wish Belfast well in the playoffs. We either didn't come to play tonight or they are that good."
"I am extremely proud of how the guys came out to play," said Belfast coach Chris Bartlett. "It is tough when you take them out of a routine and that happened Friday with the game being moved up to a 5 p.m. kickoff time due to the heavy rains predicted. We scrambled out of school, got on the buses and essentially got off the bus and played. They did a great job of getting focused and prepared for the game."
Both Wadsworth and Bartlett agreed the Lions' turning point was their homecoming victory over Mount Desert Island Sept. 28, where Belfast rallied from 22 points down to win 30-22.
"Since the win against MDI this year I told them the goal of getting to the playoffs was in their hands all they had to do was take it," said Bartlett. "We had a small hiccup versus Brewer but came back strong in the last two games and the guys didn't let the playoff opportunity get away from them."
"I think Belfast found something in their win against MDI when they came back from a 22-0 halftime deficit," said Wadsworth. "They are peaking at the right time and they will be a tough out in the playoffs."
Wadsworth, who is in his first year guiding the Windjammers, said, "We did some good things this year but tonight just wasn't our night."
Tufo got the offense going early with a 25-yard touchdown run, while Collier pushed the pile for a 1-yard touchdown run, to put the hosts up 12-0.
Camden Hills fumbled the ensuing kickoff, which Belfast recovered, then Collier threw a 15-yard touchdown pass to Smith two plays later to extend the visitors' lead to 18-0.
The Windjammers then fumbled the ball away on their next possession on a ball Rozsahegyi threw behind the line of scrimmage to Graffam. The ball was scooped by the Lions and Tufo cashed in from two yards out two plays later to put the Lions ahead 24-0.
McFadden had a 40-yard touchdown run and Tufo another 6-yard score, while McFadden and Lucas Roberts recorded two-point conversions to push the visitors to a 40-0 cushion at halftime.
McFadden added another touchdown run in the second half, while Smith returned an interception for a touchdown, to key the Lions.
Courier Publications Associate Sports Director Mark Haskell can be reached at 207-594-4401 or by email at email@example.com.