WATERVILLE – The Waterville High School football team did what a favorite is supposed to do Monday afternoon.
But Mount Desert Island did something else – proved it belonged.
Third-seeded Waterville rode the 166-yard, two-touchdown rushing performance of senior Mike Bernhardt to a 14-6 victory over the stubborn Trojans in an Eastern Maine Class B quarterfinal at Drummond Field.
The win, in a game rescheduled from Saturday because of bad weather, sends Waterville (7-2) to a semifinal Saturday at Winslow. No. 2 Winslow (8-1) whipped No. 7 Leavitt of Turner Center 38-6 on Monday.
But for No. 6 MDI, which ended its season with a 5-4 record, the competitive defeat marked another step forward for a program that finished 0-9 just two years ago and was making its first postseason appearance since 1998.
“I want to give MDI credit,” said Waterville coach Frank Knight. “We’d seen them on film, and we’d seen them just a little bit live one day, and they’re a good ballclub. They made a good statement in the playoffs, they took us to the end and we never felt comfortable about the game.”
Both offenses sustained long drives on occasion, but both also were haunted by turnovers – MDI with four, Waterville three – on this Halloween eve. Yet Waterville’s defense proved most resilient, twice stopping the Trojans after they advanced inside the Panthers’ 20-yard-line.
“We had our opportunities,” said MDI coach Mark Shields. “We got down within the 20 a couple of times but they held us, they played hard and they’re a good football team. We had to play our best game to come down here and beat them, and I thought we were pretty close to playing our best game.”
MDI took the opening kickoff and drove from its 32 to the Waterville 13 before the 14-play march ended when a fourth-down pass by Sean Parady was intercepted in the end zone by Tyler Joseph.
Waterville then showed off its ball-control prowess, capping off a 15-minute first quarter with the bulk of a 16-play, 80-yard drive that produced a 7-0 lead when Bernhardt scored from 6 yards out with 10:40 left in the first half.
An interception by Joel Allen three plays later gave Waterville the ball at the MDI 30, but a Trojans’ defense led by senior linebacker Andrew Leiser held on downs.
That set the stage for the Trojans’ best drive of the day, as they used a 15-play, 90-yard march to close within 7-6 on a 7-yard TD pass from Parady to Collin Walton with 19 seconds left in the half. A 35-yard pass from Parady to Terrence Jones down the right sideline on third-and-seven from the MDI 23 helped set up the score.
MDI had a great chance at the outset of the second half, as Waterville’s Jared Clark fumbled the kickoff return and Danny Dunn recovered at the Panthers’ 39. The Trojans drove to the 15 before Parady was sacked on first down by Chris Smith, and the Panthers soon regained possession on downs.
Waterville then marched to the MDI 24 before quarterback Nate Lancaster was sacked on fourth-and-three by Calvin Tweedie.
But the Panthers finally padded their lead with a 59-yard fourth-quarter drive capped off when Bernhardt – who rushed for 120 yards on 18 carries in the second half – scored from 2 yards out with 8:27 to play.
PURPLE PANTHERS 14, TROJANS 6
MDI (5-4) 0 6 0 0 – 6
Waterville (7-2) 0 7 0 7 – 14
W -Bernhardt 6 run (Allen kick)
M – Walton 7 pass from Parady (kick failed)
W – Bernhardt 2 run (Allen kick)
First downs 13 17
Rushing att.-yards 39-112 48-239
Passing comp.-att. 6-15 1-4
Passing yards 78 9
Total yards 190 248
Punts-avg. 1-29 0-0
Fumbles-lost 7-1 5-3
Intercepted by 0 3
Penalties-yards 5-34 2-10
MDI: Dunn 10-34, Jones 7-26, Murphy 4-19, Gaynor 5-19, Parady 12-15, Keene 1-(minus 1); Waterville: Bernhardt 27-166, Lancaster 7-23, C. Johnston 3-19, P. Joseph 2-18, Smith 9-13
MDI: Parady 6-14-3-78, Jones 0-1-0-0; Waterville: Lancaster 1-4-0-9
MDI: Walton 5-43, Jones 1-35; Waterville: T. Joseph 1-9