BATH — The first half, for all intents and purposes, could not have gone worse for the Medomak Valley football team.

They staked high school athletic rival Oceanside of Rockland a 14-point lead and trailed by 19 at halftime. A half that was overshadowed by turnovers and penalties for the Panthers of Waldoboro.

From left, Medomak Valley’s Gatlin Bedenik, Hayden Staples and Jaiden Starr celebrate the win. Photo by Mark Haskell

But, in the second half of the late-season Class C North gridiron showdown — played on the artificial turf at McMann Field in Bath on Saturday night, Oct. 15 — the Panthers put all that behind them.

The “hosts” played efficient, mistake-free football for the final 24 minutes and fought all the way back — which culminated in a heads-up, game-winning play in the end zone for senior Blake Morrison — as the Panthers (5-2) ground out an exciting, come-from-behind 35-32 victory over the Mariners (4-3).

The game initially was to be played on Saturday at 1 p.m. in Waldoboro, but heavy rain Friday forced a switch to the turf in Bath.

Hayden Staples was an offensive stalwart for Medomak Valley, which moved into first in the region, as he accounted for 20 of the team’s 28 second-half points on three short-yardage rushing touchdowns and a two-point conversion rush, ending the day with 229 yards on 39 carries.

Oceanside’s Cohen Galley (7), Aiden Sergent, left, and Jack Elwell. Photo by Mark Haskell

But the play of the game went to Morrison as he hauled in a touchdown pass from Wyatt Simmons — that deflected off a Mariner defensive back — and into his hands with 19.5 seconds to go with what proved the game’s decisive score.

Staples rushed in the two-point try moments later to give the Panthers a three-point lead. Aaron Reed also had a two-point conversion rush in the win for Medomak Valley.

“The defense came up really big in the second half when we really needed it,” said Morrison. “It felt awesome to come down with that ball and give us a chance to win the game. It came down to a passing play and I had a deep route and I’m just glad I got the opportunity to make the play.”

Medomak Valley’s Gatlin Bedenik, right, and Oceanside’s Maddox Robishaw. Photo by Mark Haskell

“I was proud of the kids effort to get back into the game,” said Panther coach Ryan Snell. “They had a maturity and calm about them. We put the ball on the ground in the first half and had some miscommuncation on coverages. We got that cleaned up and they just battled in the second half to give us a shot. Hayden Staples was a leader for us and the offensive line of Connor Light, Marshall Addy, Isaac Simmons, Sam Moody and Nathan Gess paved the way. Blake’s catch at the end was a great play by him. We’ve seen him do that many times. He had a shot to make a play, and he did just that.”

Reed (8 carries for 28 yards, 2-point conversion), Gatlin Bedenik (4 carries for 18 yards), Porter Gahagan (3 carries for 16 yards), Jaiden Starr (3 carries for 17 yards) and Liam Wilson (5-yard touchdown rush) also chipped in for the Panthers on the ground, while quarterback Wyatt Simmons was 2-of-2 for 24 yards and one touchdown pass.

Morrison had two catches for 24 yards and a score, while Chase Peaslee completed a three-yard pass to Tucker Holgerson and Starr booted an extra point for Medomak Valley.

Oceanside’s Hale Morris, right, and Medomak Valley’s Gatlin Bedenik Photo by Mark Haskell

Cohen Galley, who tossed five touchdowns to four receivers in the losing effort for Oceanside, was stripped of the ball on his final pass attempt as Holgerson pounced on the fumble to clinch the win for the Panthers.

Cohen Galley was 15-of-22 on the night for 347 yards, as he completed passes to Hale Morris (catch for 9 yards, TD), Zeb Foster (3 catches for 97 yards, 2 TDs), Gavin Ripley (5 catches for 117 yards, TD), Robert Blair (4 catches for 100 yards, TD) and Aiden Sergent (2 catches for 24 yards).

Cohen Galley had nine rushes for 41 yards and Sergent seven rushes for 14 yards for Oceanside.

Cohen Galley tossed one of his two TD passes on the night to Foster — this time a 20-yard strike — to start the scoring on Saturday with 8:06 to go in the first quarter as Oceanside took an 8-0 lead after Aiden Sergent’s two-point conversion rush.

Scene from Oceanside at Medomak Valley on Oct. 15 in Bath. Photo by Mark Haskell

In the second quarter, the wheels appeared to come off for the Panthers, who got a holding penalty, chop-block penalty and quarterback sack on the same possession and suddenly faced a third-and-32 on a drive that ended in a punt.

The Mariners got a 77-yard touchdown pass to Blair on the game’s next play and led 14-0 with 7:46 left in the half.

Medomak Valley got on the board with 3:57 to go in the half when Wilson cashed in with a five-yard rushing score, followed by Starr’s extra point, and trailed 14-7, but Oceanside again responded in one play when Cohen Galley found Ripley for a 74-yard touchdown pass and extended its lead to 20-7.

The Panthers then immediately fumbled the ensuing kickoff back to Oceanside, which resulted in an eight-yard touchdown pass from Cohen Galley to Morris with under a minute to play.

Medomak Valley’s Hayden Staples, facing, and Oceanside’s Jacob Barstow. Photo by Mark Haskell

Medomak Valley got flagged for a personal foul to end the half, yardage which was tacked onto the kickoff to begin the second half.

However, the Panthers flipped the script in the second half and scored on their first three possessions — all short-yardage rushes by Staples — and held the Mariners to a three-and-out and a turnover on downs during that span.

Staples’ third score — and two-point conversion rush by Reed — gave Medomak Valley a 27-26 advantage with 6:58 to play.

Scene from Oceanside at Medomak Valley on Oct. 15 in Bath. Photo by Mark Haskell

Oceanside did not go quietly as they converted a pair of fourth downs on its next possession to stay alive, which included a touchdown pass from Cohen Galley to Foster with 1:58 to play, which gave the Mariners the lead at 32-27.

That, ultimately, set the stage for Medomak Valley’s game-winning drive, which saw Oceanside get called for a pass interference penalty on a fourth-down play that gave the Panthers new life at the 21-yard line with fewer than 30 seconds to play.

On the game’s next play, Wyatt Simmons connected with Morrison for the game-winning score.

The Panther defense was keyed by Isaac Simmons (5 solo tackles, 2 assisted tackles), Reed (solo), Bedenik (solo, assist), Marshall Addy (2 solos, 2 assists, quarterback sack), Kaden Wright (7 solos, 2 assists, sack, forced fumble), Peaslee (4 solos), Staples (5 solos, 2 assists), Gabe Lash (solo, assist), Ethan Wood (solo) and Holgerson (4 solos, sack, fumble recovery).

The Mariner defense was led by Sergent (4 solos, 7 assists), Nate Thompson (solo, assist), Cohen Galley (4 solos, 8 assists), Blair (3 solos, 9 assists), Hale Morris (8 solos, 9 assists, sack), Ben Tripp (assist), Maddox Robishaw (2 solos, 2 assists), Ripley (4 solos, 8 assists), Foster (2 solos, 2 assists), Brady Proctor (2 solos, 2 assists), Chris Mills (solo), Jack Elwell (4 assists), Landyn Benner (solo), Blake Brann (solo), Carter Galley (solo, 2 assists) and Cody Benner (assist).

Medomak Valley will wrap its regular season in an Friday, Oct. 21 home game against Hermon, while Oceanside will host Belfast on the same day, both at 7 p.m.