BELFAST – On a night when 50 or 60 or 80 points wasn’t realistic, and on a night when the Hampden Academy Broncos faced their first bona fide test of the school year after three weeks of pop quizzes, the Broncos found the answer from an unexpected place.
The defensive side of the ball.
The Broncos “D” withstood two Belfast attempts to tie the game in the final six minutes and emerged with a 28-20 road win, a perfect 4-0 record, and a passing grade in the first of three big matchups.
After piling up 207 points in the season’s first three weeks, Hampden coach Bob Sinclar admitted that his team had some questions that hadn’t been answered.
“I think that a big thing we needed to find out about ourselves was did we have it in us to come out and play for 48 minutes with a championship attitude,” Sinclair said.
“This was what we expected,” he said. “This was what we needed.”
Another thing they needed was Jared Dostie.
You can’t ignore senior halfback Ben Preston’s 23-carry, 111-yard, two-touchdown night. But during Belfast’s final two possessions, it was his mirror opposite – the guy wearing 82 instead of 28, who provided the big plays.
Trailing 28-20 after Preston plunged in from four yards out with 6:23 to go in the game, the Lions got the break they needed when sophomore quarterback Ben Morley hooked up with Robbie Skillings for a 34-yard pickup to the HA-33.
But after the Lions advanced as far as the 17, Dostie and the defense took over.
First, Jeremy Hopkins leaped high to deflect a Morley pass.
Then, on fourth-and-6 with 1:51 to play, Dostie came up with his first big pass breakup. Yes, kids, that’s foreshadowing: there were more to come.
Hampden inherited the ball at that point, but wasn’t able to pick up a game-clinching first down. So after getting the ball on the HA-42 with 59 seconds to go, Morley got four more shots.
Jordan Marden knocked the first one down in the backfield. Dostie stepped in front of Matt Darres on the second. And after a halfback pass gained only four yards, Morley’s final attempt was knocked away by Dostie again.
“I had a pretty good idea where the ball was going,” Dostie said, referring to the dangerous Darres.
“I just tried to play fundamentals and the rest of the defense did great pursuing the QB,” he said. “It was great.”
Belfast senior tailback Tim Parenteau alternately slithered, darted and pounded his way to 107 tough yards on 18 carries.
And it was Parenteau’s third quarter dive that staked the Lions to a 20-14 lead with 7:32 to go in the quarter. But in the end, Hampden had the answer.
The Broncos answered the Parenteau TD with a quick score of their own, unleashing a five-play, 71-yard drive that made it 21-20 just 2:30 later.
A third-down, 23-yard Preston ramble took the ball to the B-40, and after losing two yards on first down, quarterback Adam Waite connected with senior wideout Josh Dickinson on a 42-yard scoring strike down the left sideline.
Preston sported a fresh cut across the bridge of his nose after a win in front of a partisan packed house.
“Gee. Those kids can hit,” Preston said, rubbing his nose. “But I guess we showed that we can play with a contender.”
Belfast coach Butch Arthers said the Lions had their chances – including an ill-fated, third-quarter possession that began on the HA-17 after a nifty 66-yard kickoff return by Skillings – but couldn’t break through.
“We’ve got to get hungry when we get inside the 30,” Arthers said. “But it was a good football game.”
Broncos 28, Lions 20
Hampden (4-0) 8 6 7 7 – 28
Belfast (2-2) 0 14 6 0 – 20
HA – Bennett 5 run (Marden rush)
B – Morley 23 pass from Colson (Parenteau rush)
HA – Preston 3 run (rush failed)
B – Parenteau 56 run (rush failed)
B – Parenteau 3 run (pass failed)
HA – J. Dickinson 42 pass from Waite (Bennett kick)
HA – Preston 4 run (Bennett kick)
First downs 12 10 Rushing att. – yds 49-212 35-139 Passing cmp. – att. 2-7 6-12 Yards passing 91 104 Total yards 303 243 Intercepted by 0 1 Punts – avg. 4-38.5 2-20.5 Fumbles – lost 4-2 2-0 Penalties – yds 3-17 3-26
RUSHING – Hampden: Bennett 10-50, Preston 23-111, Marden 13-52, Waite 3-(-1); Belfast: Parenteau 18-107, Skillings 6-27, Morley 10-9, Hurd 1-(-4)
PASSING – Hampden: Waite 2-7-91-1; Belfast: Morley 4-10-77-0, Colson 1-1-23-0, Parenteau 1-1-4-0
RECEIVING – Hampden: Preston 1-49, J. Dickinson 1-42; Belfast: Parenteau 3-43, Morley 2-27, Skillings 1-34