DIXFIELD – Quarterback Charlie Houghton led Dirigo to a 35-30 victory over Mountain Valley in the Small School South semi-finals on Friday.
After the Falcons took a 30-27 lead with 3:40 remaining, Houghton led the Cougars onto the field and scored his fourth touchdown of the game, this one a 25-yard run, to give Dirigo a lead 35-30.
Houghton and the Cougars started the game with a bang.
In the third game of practice, Houghton found Trenton Hutchinson for a 72-yard touchdown pass. Hutchinson scored the extra point and in 90 seconds Dirigo was leading 7-0.
Mountain Valley’s Robert Leveillee was the workhorse for the Falcons in their first practice of the game, running for 64 yards, including a 38-yard touchdown after taking a direct snap and cut on the straight sideline. The two-point conversion failed, so Dirigo kept his lead, 7-6, with 8:07 left in the first quarter.
The start of Friday night’s game was in stark contrast to the teams’ first meeting, which ended 16-6 in favor of Dirigo. This time, both offenses were gaining yards and scoring points early.
The score took precedence over a botched attack from both sides in the second half of the first quarter.
Dirigo’s Trent Holman missed a completed pass that Mountain Valley picked up to midfielder. Just five games later, Holman redeemed himself with an interception to give the ball to the Cougars on their own 25-yard line. However, three plays later, Curtis Errington fumbled to return the ball to the Falcons on their own 49-yard line.
Mountain Valley returned the ball on the downs and Dirigo walked the field, flawlessly, passing 72 yards on the way from Houghton, the last 28 to Holman for a touchdown on the left sideline. The score, along with the extra point successful, gave Dirigo a 14-7 lead with 7:41 left in the first half.
Dirigo forced a punt, and a few plays later, Houghton passed the ball to the center for a one-yard touchdown that gave his team a 21-7 lead with 2:39 remaining. in the first half.
Leveillee carried the Falcons onto the court in subsequent practice, going 64 yards, including a 9-yard touchdown run.
Just before halftime, Houghton attempted a Hail Mary throw to the right side which found Hutchinson on 54 yards, but Hutchinson was forced out of bounds at the end of time. Houghton threw for 271 passing yards in the first half.
After Dirigo forced a turnaround on the downs when Mountain Valley entered the red zone with a few penalties, the Cougars immediately got to work on offense.
Houghton and Errington took turns throwing the ball until Errington broke a 49-yard touchdown down the left side for a score. The two-point conversion failed, but the Cougars held a 27-14 lead with five minutes remaining in the third quarter.
Leveillee helped the Falcons re-enter the red zone in the run that followed with 34 rushing yards, but a restraint call brought them back to 31 and Leveillee felt his teammate’s pads and Dirigo recovered on his own. 36.
The Falcons forced a punt and Leveillee returned to work, running a few times to set up a 45-yard touchdown on a left side pitch. He then threw the ball for the two-point conversion and suddenly, with time ticking by in the third quarter, Mountain Valley was just five points behind, 27-22.
The two teams traded punts over the next three drives, Leveillee returning a punt for the 15 Falcons in midfield with six minutes left. Leveillee followed with a 15-yard rushing gain to bring Mountain Valley to his opponent’s 35-yard line.
On the third and 13th, Airik Richard found Kaden Paaao for a 33-yard pass to bring the Falcons to the 5-yard line, and from there, Leveillee ran him into the end zone for a score. Leveillee ran in the two-run conversion and gave the Cougars a 30-27 lead with 3:40 left.
The Cougars wasted no time moving the ball and with 2:20 left in the game, Charlie Houghton put the ball away and directed the ball to the left, used a Holman block and scored a touchdown. from 25 yards with 2:11 to play. A successful two-point conversion put Dirigo ahead 35-30.
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