WINTHROP – Billed as a highly competitive matchup between two of Class D’s elites. It lived up to that billing – on the rare occasions there weren’t any yellows on the field.
Freeport defeated Winthrop/Monmouth/Hall-Dale 28-21 in a penalty-filled matchup Friday night at Maxwell Field. The two teams combined for 20 penalties, 10 on each team, as the Falcons ran out the clock on the Ramblers to earn a crucial victory.
“It was interesting; you look at every play and you see a flag on the field,” Freeport senior wide receiver Maximillian Peters said. “We just had to roll with it. You can’t control what the flags are called, so you just have to keep your head down, keep going and keep playing football.”
After penalties stalled the opening Winthrop/Monmouth/Hall-Dale drive, Freeport (4-2) took a 7-0 lead on Aidan Heath’s 39-yard pass to Peters midway through the first quarter. The Ramblers would respond, however, rushing 80 yards in nine plays and scoring on Owen Harding’s 17-yard pass to Dom Trott to make it 7-6.
Winthrop/Monmouth/Hall-Dale (3-2) then took the ball into the red zone twice, but turned the ball over on opportunities both times. Freeport made the Ramblers pay with two touchdowns, first on a 71-yard run by Adam Michaud immediately after the second red zone miss, and again on a 43-yard pass from Heath to Peters with 26 seconds remaining in the half. .
“Those (Heath touchdown passes to Peters) were two big plays by two older captains,” Freeport head coach Paul St. Pierre said. “Aidan and Max have been playing together for a long time and they needed to step up; I told all of our seniors that they needed to step up, and they went out and executed.”
Freeport scored on the opening possession of the second half when Noah Michaud ran 20 yards to put the Falcons up 28-6. But Winthrop/Monmouth/Hall-Dale would respond with a 40-yard touchdown run from Trott with 8:35 left in the fourth quarter.
Then the flags really started to rain down on Maxwell Field.
Despite starting with the ball at Winthrop/Monmouth/Hall-Dale 39 after a great run by Peters, Freeport’s offense was barely able to gain ground as it was called four times in six plays. Recovering the ball at their own 25-yard line, the Ramblers were penalized with two holds that stopped the drive after a long run by Trott carried the ball into Freeport territory.
“We had some issues in the first half and again in the second, and that really hurt us,” Winthrop/Monmouth/Hall-Dale head coach Dave St. Hilaire said. “We have to get out of our positions fast; we can’t be reaching and grabbing. These are things that we have to clean up because we can’t have first and 35 like we did a couple of times.”
Winthrop/Monmouth/Hall-Dale would add a third touchdown late after a big run by Harding and a personal foul at Freeport set up Harding’s 11-yard pass to Nick Keezer with 47 seconds remaining. However, the Falcons ran away with the victory after they recovered the onside kick.
Adam Michaud rushed the ball six times for 107 yards in the win, and Jordan Knighton rushed for 105 yards on 20 carries. Heath completed 4 of 7 passes for 93 yards, two touchdowns and an interception with all four completions to Peters. The Falcons had four sacks on defense.
Peters, as the stats show, emerged as Heath’s best option in the receiving game with fellow star Nick White sidelined with injury. Freeport had several starters out with linebackers Drew O’Hara and Cooper DeLois also out, but was hungry to bounce back after a tough 28-7 loss to Fryeburg Academy last weekend.
“I’m not going to lie: I was a little nervous about how banged up we were and how we did pretty poorly against Fryeburg, but people just stepped up,” Peters said. “We have to clean up the penalties, but even so we played incredible and I’m very happy with the result”.
Freeport, having just completed a tough stretch on the schedule after games against Wells, Medomak Valley and Fryeburg, will now have a much-needed opportunity to heal some of those injuries. The Falcons will then continue their overwhelming schedule with a home game against defending state champion Foxcroft.
For Winthrop/Monmouth/Hall-Dale, Trott finished with 101 rushing yards on nine carries, and Carter Rivers added 59 yards on eight carries. Harding went 7-for-18 for 94 yards with two interceptions with Keezer catching three of those passes for 40 yards.
“We have some learnings to take from this, but one of them is that you keep fighting, and that’s what we did,” St. Hilaire said. “It didn’t happen for us tonight, but we stuck it out and gave ourselves a chance at the end, and I’m proud of the kids for that.”
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