Miscues sting Raiders, Leavitt field goal the difference, 17-14

CLOSING IN TO MAKE A STOP is Raider linebacker Tucker Buzzell, who had a busy day against Leavitt. (Rivet Photo)
First downs: 13
Penalties: 6-35
Turnovers: 1
Rushing: 23-87
Passing: 11-21-157
Total offense: 244
First downs: 7
Penalties: 9-94
Turnovers: 1
Rushing: Cody Gullikson 10-25, Jared Chisari 6-112, Caleb Eklund 1-5, Oscar Saunders 7-19. Total: 33-255
Passing: Oscar Saunders 6-11-58
Receiving: Scott Parker 3-32, Cobey Johnson 3-26
Total offense: 313
Tackles (unassisted/assisted/totals): Reese Kneissler 4-5-9, Liam Harriman 1-0-1, Nathan Knapp 1-0-1, Arnold Jaber 1-3-4, Tucker Buzzell 6-6-12, Cody Gullikson 3-7-10, Scott Parker 1-2-3, Ryan Hewes 1-1-2, Bryce Micklon 1-0-1, Will Krug 1-0-1, Caleb Bowles 0-2-2, Caleb Eklund 0-3-3, Calvin Southwick 3-1-4, Cobey Johnson 1-1-2, Josh Frye 0-2-2, Joe LeBrun 1-0-1, Eli Mahan 1-2-3, Oscar Saunders 0-1-1

By Wayne E. Rivet

Staff Writer

FRYEBURG — Playing against an equally talented team, the difference between winning and losing is often a mistake or two.

Fryeburg Academy proved it could trade hits and big plays against highly-touted Leavitt, but the Raiders were stung by penalties at key moments Saturday in a 17-14 loss on Homecoming.

Sophomore Eli Lind booted a 26-yard field goal with 2:42 left in the first half, which proved to be the game winner.

First mistake, two unsportsmanlike penalties that put the Hornets in scoring position, setting up Lind’s field goal.

After a short punt giving the Hornets possession at the FA-41, the Raider defense dug in as Reese Kneissler and Caleb Eklund combined for a stop. But on the next play, the Raiders were flagged 15 yards for a sideline violation (a warning had been issued early in the game) and another 15 yards tacked on for unsportsmanlike conduct.

With the ball at the FA-10, the Raiders rallied. Calvin Southwick dumped Hornet running back Bradley Moreau for a yard gain, and two pass plays went incomplete. Southwick nearly sacked Hornet quarterback Tim Albert on the first attempt. On fourth down, the Hornets went for the field goal.

Earlier in the quarter, Leavitt’s Allen Peabody picked off an Oscar Saunder’s pass giving the Hornets excellent field position at the FA-24. But on fourth down at the FA-9, Albert’s pass in the end zone was tipped away by Caleb Bowles.

Not wanting to walk away empty handed, the Hornets went to Lind, and it proved to be a winning decision.

Down 17-7, Fryeburg stormed back on the next possession as Jared Chisari zipped past the Hornet defense for gains of 16 and 14 yards, setting up a 26-yard quick strike over the middle from Saunders to Scott Parker with 41.3 seconds left in the half. Freshman Eddie Thurston was again perfect on the extra-point try to make it 17-14.

Twice, the Raiders had chances to take the lead in the second half, and twice, big plays were nullified due to penalty.

On the opening drive of the third quarter, Fryeburg found a rhythm running the ball behind pad-popping drives by Cody Gullikson. The senior running back carried six times as the Raiders marched into Hornet territory. Saunders converted a big third down with a scramble to the sideline, gaining 12 yards.

After a pass to Gullikson in the flat yielded no gain, Saunders hooked up with Parker over the middle, who snagged the toss between two Leavitt defenders. The first down was erased on an ineligible receiver downfield call. Leavitt made the miscue really hurt as senior linebacker Nolan Cabral sacked Saunders for a six-yard loss to thwart the threat.

In the fourth quarter, the Raiders caught a break when Leavitt fumbled the ball at the FA-23, where Gullikson was quick to pounce on the loose pigskin. FA gained field position on tough runs by Gullikson and Saunders.

Faced with a 3rd-and-5, Saunders connected with Parker for a seven-yard gain. Then, as he did in the first quarter when he tied the game with a 68-yard jet sweep sprint, Chisari found a little daylight to the outside, turned on the burners and out ran a Hornet defender for another 68-yard score with 5:57 left in the game.

Hold it.

Holding was called, wiping out the score. The drive stalled.

Leavitt benefited from a questionable pass interference call down the far sideline; saw an 11-yard pass completion gain 15 more yards due to a facemask call; and converted a fourth down play as Moreau gained five yards by getting to the outside with 1:03 left.

FA win streak over.

Leavitt takes the early lead in the Class C South Heal Ratings with a 4-0 mark.

“We’ve been in our share of big games, but this one was the biggest we’ve been in for a while. I thought we responded well when they took it and marched down the field and scored. They made some really great plays. That catch down the sideline was amazing. We had really good coverage on it, but they made a play,” FA Coach David Turner said. “I thought we covered all day pretty well, especially on the back end. They did a nice job giving their quarterback time to sit back there. He has a big arm and can make those throws that a lot of guys can’t. We don’t see that from many teams.”

For the first time this season, the Raiders faced a polished passing attack. All day, Albert stood tall in the pocket and flicked tight spirals to receivers all over the field — deep down the sideline, over the middle and out to the flat. He was 11-of-21 for 157 yards and two touchdowns.

“They are big upfront. They do a nice job protecting. We tried not to send too many after him because he can throw it down the field. You’re picking your poison,” Coach Turner said. “First half. We couldn’t get to him. They made some nice plays, nice catches and we had good coverage on them.”

While Albert’s accuracy was impeccable, it was made possible by strong line play, which gave the senior QB plenty of time to set, survey and throw.

“We knew coming in this would be the best offense we will have faced. The most diverse offense. There are so many things that you have to defend. They make you defend all of them. So, they get a couple of breaks (and good plays) that lead to scores in the first half, which at that point, we could have said it wasn’t our day. But, the guys hung in there,” Coach Turner said. “Seeing it was 0-0 in the second against that kind of offense, it was something we can build upon.”

The Hornets looked to send a message, running the ball effectively on their open possession. At the FA-39, Albert hooked up with Caleb Bowen down the sideline, leaping up over FA corner Ryan Hewes for a 21-yard gain. FA’s defense stiffened as Josh Frye and Tucker Buzzell sacked Albert, and Kneissler and Gullikson tossed Moreau for a four-yard loss.

But, Leavitt struck first when Albert zipped a 22-yard strike to Bowen for a score.

Fryeburg wasted little time squaring things up as Chisari scored on a 68-yard run on his first touch of the game. Game tied 7-7 after six minutes.

Leavitt chewed up the rest of the first quarter minutes with a 13-play, 68-yard scoring drive keyed by a Albert-to-Oren Shaw reception for 29 yards to erase a 3rd-and-20 situation and a 20-yard laser over the middle to put the ball down on the FA-3. Fryeburg stopped the run as Kneissler stopped Moreau in his tracks for no gain, and Bowles and Kneissler tackled Bowen for a yard loss.

Albert then rolled right and found Bowen for a score with 4.4 seconds left in the first quarter.

“Obviously, we need to cut down on unnecessary penalties. A lot of times, there are penalties that are judgment calls by the officials that may or may not be a penalty. When you come into a game like this, the team that plays better wins the game. The team that plays cleaner will win the game. They played a little cleaner than we did today,” Coach Turner said. “I did not know how we would respond. We were amped up. It was a hot day. We bounced back and kept coming back all day. We were confident coming in. Our guys believed they could play with them, and we did. Yes, it was a big game. In reality, it was Game 4. We have to lift Monday, run Monday and do all of the same things again to get ready for Gardiner. Hopefully, if we are fortunate, we get another chance against them.”

Up next: The Raiders look to rebound this Friday night when they travel to Gardiner to meet the Tigers (1-3) at 7 p.m.

Gardiner is ranked third behind the Raiders. After opening the season with a 26-6 win over Morse, the Tigers have lost three straight — 21-13 to Cape Elizabeth, 19-7 to Leavitt and 17-14 to York.

COMPLETION DOWN THE SIDELINE to a Leavitt receiver despite good coverage by FA defensive back Ryan Hewes. (Rivet Photos)

Caleb Eklund (left) and Cody Gullikson combine for a tackle.


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