Rascoe engineers late scoring drive; Raiders headed to the playoffs
By Wayne E. Rivet
FRYEBURG — Billy Rascoe is either humble or he simply doesn’t want to admit he actually listened to his older brother’s advice.
With his brother, Andrew, sidelined with a hip injury suffered in the closing seconds at Cape Elizabeth, Billy likely completed the biggest pass of his quarterback career Saturday.
With Fryeburg Academy’s season hanging in the balance with just over four minutes left in the game, Rascoe tossed a dart to outside receiver Bright Amoako on a 4th-and-11 call. The play went for 16 yards to keep the Raiders’ playoff hopes alive.
Senior Devine Dockery (24 carries, 113 yards) scored on a quick burst to the left side from 3 yards out with 57.1 seconds to rally Fryeburg Academy to a thrilling 14-7 Homecoming victory over Spruce Mountain.
The win propelled the Raiders into the Class B West playoffs this Saturday against second-seeded Westbrook (6-2). Game time is 1 p.m. It is the first playoff appearance for the Raiders (4-4) since 2007.
With one week of practice as the starter, sophomore Billy Rascoe delivered a big time performance, rushing for 66 yards and picking up some key first downs.
As for the pass play to Amoako, Billy simply said, “I was lucky.”
When asked if his brother gave him any helpful advice before the game, Billy was beat to the punch by Andrew, who claimed he offered some helpful throwing tips.
“That was a different piece of advice I didn’t use,” Billy responded. “He (Andreww) told me that instead of throwing the ball up to throw it straighter. It worked.”
Rascoe credited the play of the Raider line for allowing the team move the ball 84-yards in 19 plays over the final six minutes to capture the victory.
“We weren’t in a rush at all. We just kept making plays,” he said. On the critical toss to Amoako, Billy said, “I was looking for Bright all the way, which I probably shouldn’t have, but it worked out. It was lucky.”
Spruce Mountain punter Brandon Hodges pinned the Raiders on their own 16, trailing 7-6. Dockery dug FA out of the hole, following strong blocks from Kevin Reardon and Sulo Burbank for a 15 yard gain on third down.
After FA was whistled for a 15-yard personal foul penalty, the Raiders chipped away at the deficit as Rascoe hit Amoako for 9 yards on second down and 16 on fourth down.
“We were in no man’s land. Fourth down. Four minutes to go. Do you go for it or do you punt? We had three timeouts and had been doing a good job defensively,” Raider Coach David Turner said. “Ultimately, we went for it.”
From there, the Raiders went to the ground and pound with Dockery carrying the ball eight times and Rascoe twice.
FA appeared to score on a Dockery outside run from 7 yards out with 1:41 left, but the Raiders were slapped with a holding penalty. No problem. Dockery got seven yards back off the option play, Rascoe bulldozed up the middle for 5 yards, setting up Dockery’s quick toss score. Rascoe added the two point conversion on a run off tackle, just touching the goal line.
Spruce Mountain’s last ditch effort ended with a thud as Dockery sacked Phoenix quarterback Peter Theriault for a seven-yard loss, and FA senior linebacker Kevin Reardon sealed his team’s playoff ticket by intercepting a pass over the middle with 50.5 seconds left.
Coach Turner had plenty of praise to toss around after his club’s comeback victory.
He first started with his quarterback.
“Billy doesn’t get a ton of reps, but we have a lot of confidence in him because 1. He’s smart; 2. He is a good runner, a fullback-style runner; and 3. He throws better than you think he does. If you watch him in practice, you wonder what the heck is he doing. But, he’s a smart guy who makes the easy read. He played a heck of a game today,” Coach Turner said.
In a game between two pretty even squads — which actually mirror each other from an offensive standpoint, featuring the option run game — big plays ultimately decided the outcome.
“They had some opportunities to score, but didn’t. We made some big stops when we had to,” Coach Turner said. “We had some chances to score, but shot ourselves in the foot. We gave up the big touchdown run, which was one blown assignment, but for the most part, the defense really played well all day.”
With both clubs at 3-4, the victor would nail down the final playoff berth.
Fryeburg scored first when Rascoe found senior Tanner Wentworth along the right sideline. Wentworth rumbled 43 yards for the score just seconds into the second quarter. Dockery’s conversion run failed.
A short punt gave the Phoenix excellent field position with 6:53 left until halftime. Starting at the FA-47, Spruce Mountain’s QB Theriault scrambled for seven yards. After Alwayne Ulter was stuffed for no gain by CJ Bartlett, Theriault faked an inside handoff and found a gaping hole off right tackle. He bolted and raced 40 yards for a touchdown with 5:55 left. Brandon Stearns’ PAT kick was good giving the Phoenix a 7-6 lead.
A promising FA drive stalled when Rascoe was forced to the sideline by the head referee after taking a shot to the back. While rubbing his back, Rascoe looked to take the next play call from the FA sideline, but was told to head off the field by the referee.
FA then had trouble with the snap, resulting in a 10-yard loss and the Raiders were forced to punt.
The Raiders seemed to catch a break when Greg Harmon recovered a Phoenix fumble at the SM-29, but the Raiders gave the ball right back when Rascoe was intercepted by his counterpart, Theriault.
FA thwarted the Phoenix’s hope to score before half as Burbank and Ian MacFawn sacked Theriault with 17.2 seconds left.
Long, long drive
Spruce Mountain seemingly had the Raiders right where they wanted them.
The Phoenix held the ball for nearly 10 minutes on their opening drive of the second half, calling 14 running plays.
The Phoenix moved the ball from their own 24 to the Raider 15 yard line. A holding penalty set the Phoenix back 10 yards, then the FA defense stiffened. Burbank made a big stop on an option play and a fourth down pass completion fell three yards short.
Rascoe carved out a little breathing room with a 16 and 9-yard gain. A Dockery fumble, however, put the Raider defense back up against the wall. FA held as Reardon and Rod Desroche each made big stops.
“Our big focus this week was to just do your assignment. It becomes tougher when you start getting tired, but we had some guys come in — because we’re a little thin on the defensive line due to injuries — and really gave us a lift and played very well,” Coach Turner said. “The defense played great, they played tough and made plays when they had to.”
When Reardon leaped to snag Spruce Mountain’s last gasp to rally, the Raiders accomplished one of their goals — to make the playoffs.
“We just wanted to get in and play somebody,” Coach Turner said. “Now, the challenge is tougher, but the goal has now changed — we need to be better than just one team this week.”
That team is Westbrook. The Blue Blazes beat the Raiders 58-28 in Week 4. The Raider defense wilted under the rushing attack of Cale Bolling (109 yards) and Collin Joyce (93 yards) as Westbrook rolled up 448 yards of offense. Quarterback Kyle Heath also had a big game, completing 7-of-10 passes for 119 yards and two touchdowns.
FA’s Devine Dockery rushed for 200 yards on 22 carries and scored twice.
Saturday could prove quite interesting.
First Downs: FA 13, SM 9
Penalties: FA 6-50, SM 7-65
Rushing: FA 43-187, SM 36-178
Passing: FA 3-8-68, SM 4-13-28
Total Offense: FA 255, SM 206
FA Rushing: Devine Dockery 24-113, Kyle Bonner 3-18, Billy Rascoe 17-66, Ben Southwick 1-minus 10
FA Receiving: Tanner Wentworth 1-43, Bright Amoako 2-25
FA tackles (solo, assist, total): Jake Thurston 2-2-4, Devine Dockery 6-1-7, Kyle Bonner 4-0-4, Greg Harmon 1-5-6, CJ Bartlett 3-0-3, Ian MacFawn 1-4-5, Rod Desroche 1-1-2, Bright Amoako 3-1-4, Tanner Wentworth 1-0-1, Sulo Burbank 3-1-4, Ben Southwick 0-1-1, Zach Sheehan 2-1-3, Kevin Reardon 1-1-2, Ryan Buzzell 0-1-1, Billy Rascoe 0-1-1, Cody Loewe 2-1-3