Playoffs: Westbrook leaves Raiders feeling blue, 34-8
By Wayne E. Rivet
WESTBROOK — Facing an offensive juggernaut, it is never good to be missing key players.
With two starters already out, Fryeburg Academy was unable to weather the loss of additional key players during a critical second quarter during Saturday’s playoff game against second-seed Westbrook.
The Blue Blazes left the Raiders in a haze by halftime and rolled to a 34-8 victory to advance in the Class B West playoffs. Westbrook (7-2) will meet York this Saturday. The Wildcats pummeled Mountain Valley, 43-0 Friday night.
Junior halfback Collin Joyce rushed for 135 yards on 14 carries and scored on touchdown runs of 14 and 35 yards to power the Blue Blazes potent ground game to 317 yards.
Fryeburg Academy finishes the year at 4-5. It was the team’s first playoff appearance since 2007.
“You saw on both lines of scrimmage, they were more stout. We rarely got to their second level. They figured with Andrew (Rascoe) out they could play more man defense and stack the line,” FA Coach David Turner said. “It often comes down to 1-on-1 battles at the line, and they won those.”
Fryeburg caught a break early when senior corner Kyle Bonner, who was battling a hamstring injury, intercepted a pass along the far sideline at the FA-15, ending a 10-play opening drive for the Blazes.
Unfortunately, the big break was short lived. Fryeburg had trouble with reserve quarterback Billy Rascoe making a pitch, resulting in a fumble and a recovery by Westbrook’s David Breunig at the FA-14.
Joyce scored on the next play, slipping several tackle tries along the right side, to scamper 14 yards for the score. FA’s Ryan Buzzell tipped away the two-point conversion pass with 7:23 left in the first quarter.
“Any time you get a stop against a powerful offensive team — they (Westbrook) put up 50 against York — you hope then that the very least you do is punt the ball, that’s the worst case scenario. Unfortunately, we gave them the ball right back,” Coach Turner said. “You hope can win the turnover battle and convert them into points. Obviously, they were better at that today than we were.”
The Raiders regrouped and engineered a four-minute drive, which moved the ball from the FA-38 to the W-36. But, the effort fizzled when three passes sailed over receivers’ heads.
Fryeburg would move into Westbrook territory to start the second quarter, courtesy of a pass interference penalty — the Blue Blazes had a whooping 160 penalty yards on 17 flags — but the Raiders were unable to convert on a third down as Devine Dockery, who had a 200 yard game against Westbrook in the first meeting — was tossed back for a yard loss, forcing a punt.
Dockery saw little daylight all afternoon as the Blue Blazes defense limited the FA senior to just 27 yards on 15 carries. Westbrook defenders swarmed to the ball carrier, often unloading hard shots.
A fumble recovery by Dockery at 8:08 stopped the next Westbrook possession, but the Blue Blazes finally pieced together a scoring drive behind a spark from junior quarterback Kyle Heath.
Heath pulled off a nifty fake hand-off inside, which seemed to freeze FA defenders, and then darted outside for 27 yards before Zach Sheehan made the stop.
Heath would pick up another first down, but paid dearly for the 12-yard burst as Bonner drilled the quarterback, forcing him to the sideline.
No problem. Senior Cale Bolling shifted from running back to quarterback, and connected with Breunig for a 17-yard pick-up on third down, setting up a 35-yard touchdown run by Joyce with 4:43 left until halftime. Bolling added the two-point conversion.
Fryeburg gained good field position on a 45-yard kick-off return by Dockery, but Rascoe pitched an interception by outside linebacker Noah Collins. Westbrook drove 66 yards on 10 rushing plays as Bolling bulled in from four yards out.
Fryeburg’s defense was weakened with the temporary loss of senior Ian MacFawn, who went to the sideline with a shin injury.
“Defensively, we certainly played a lot better today. We went through a period where we had people out and they just gashed us inside. We were pretty thin for a while. They took advantage and scored twice in a short period of time,” Coach Turner said. “Kyle (Bonner) didn’t practice all week. We couldn’t play him on offense because of a bad hamstring. He wasn’t 100% but played tough.”
Down 20-0 at the half, Coach Turner and his staff, as well as some veteran players, preached the need to keep playing hard despite the deficit.
“We had to just come out and play our game. Last time, we didn’t play a good defensive game and this time we didn’t play a good offensive game. Stuff happens. It didn’t work out our way this time, but it did for Westbrook,” senior Ian MacFawn said. “I love my team for the fact we don’t quit. We always battle.”
MacFawn battled through the shin injury to return to action, which made a difference stopping the Westbrook ground attack. MacFawn finished with six tackles on the day.
“The good thing was we kept playing. In the second half, we wanted to be sure we kept playing. We had that spell in the second quarter, which we lose two or three guys then have to shift people around. You can’t help but at that point to get down a little. We already had one of our emotional leaders out, then Kyle is dinged up. We fought through it in the second half,” Coach Turner said.
Westbrook went up 26-0 as Bolling scored from a yard out. The big play was a 28-yard pass completion from Heath to Breunig as Sheehan made a saving tackle.
The Raiders challenged the Westbrook defense with a solid drive at the end of the third quarter, converting a fourth down play at the FA-33 as reserve quarterback Ben Southwick, filling in for injured starter Billy Rascoe, snagged a high snap and beat two Westbrook defenders to the outside for a four-yard gain.
Southwick completed 3-of-4 passes, including a 9-yarder on fourth down to Bright Amoako and Westbrook was flagged for pass interference as the Raiders moved into Blue Blazes territory.
But, the rookie QB made a mistake, slinging a pass to the outside, which was picked off by Joyce, who returned it 65-yards for a Westbrook score with 10:02 left in the game.
Down 34-0, the Raiders refused to pack it in. After corner Ryan Buzzell stopped Joyce for no gain on a fourth down pitch play, Fryeburg prevented the Blue Blazes from recording a shutout. Jake Thurston gained seven yards, and Dockery added 12 more to put the ball into Westbrook territory with under 4 minutes left. Southwick then snapped off a pass over the middle, which Amoako out battled Westbrook senior cornerback Kyle Schumacher for the ball. Amoako made a couple of quick cuts to break free for a 35-yard touchdown with 3:06 left.
Southwick completed the 2-point conversion pass to Thurston, who made a diving catch right at the goal line.
“We hung around early, but if we could have gotten out of the second quarter with a little less damage, who knows what might have happened. We played hard. We played tough. I’m proud of the team. We fought to get into the playoffs and fought to the end,” Coach Turner said. “We played tough, but just didn’t make enough plays.”
While the loss did sting, senior Ian MacFawn took some solace in how far the Raiders did go this fall.
“We shoot to make the playoffs every year, but it seems we’re so close each year but just don’t make it. This year, we finally got it done. It didn’t work out today, but we’re happy as hell to get there,” he said. “The difference? Getting our blocks set up more. Last year, our line didn’t execute as well as we should have. This year, we did a better job knowing where to go and who to hit.”
Believing the Raiders have a good number of underclassmen who can make a similar run next year, MacFawn said the key will be for hiss mates to “believe in themselves” and that “teammates will do their job and we’ll be just fine.”
Coach Turner hopes the successful run will indeed inspire returnees to put in the necessary off-season work required to be playoff contenders.
“The message this past week in meetings was we reached a goal to make the playoffs but now we want to win the game and play well,” Coach Turner said. “They had a taste, and now you hope it transfers into the off-season and carries over to next year.”
BLUE BLAZES 34
First Downs: FA 10, WK 19
Penalties: FA 4-30, WK 17-160
Rushing: FA 31-59, WK 46-317
Passing: FA 6-19-60, WK 5-11-79
Total offense: FA 119, WK 396
FA Rushing: Devine Dockery 15-27, Billy Rascoe 11-34, Ben Southwick 4-(9), Jake Thurston 1-7.
FA Passing: Ryan Buzzell 2-8, Bright Amoako 3-49, Jake Thurston 1-3.
Tackles (solo, assist, total): Kyle Bonner 3-3-6, Devine Dockery 2-3-5, Andrew Lyman 2-1-3, Sulo Burbank 0-4-4, Kevin Reardon 4-3-7, Zach Sheehan 5-4-9, Bright Amoako 2-2-4, Ian MacFawn 5-1-6, Ryan Buzzell 3-2-5, Jake Thurston 1-0-1, Billy Rascoe 1-0-1, Cody Loewe 2-2-4, Willy MacFawn 1-0-1, Greg Sargent 0-1-1, Winston Richards 1-1-2, Nicholis L’Hereux-Carland 0-1-1, Kyle Provencher 1-0-1, Joe Slattery 1-0-1.
Interception: Kyle Bonner
Fumble Recovery: Devine Dockery