The Troy Howard Middle School football team is experiencing one of best seasons in history and the young Lions are leaving opponents in their wake.

The Lions, guided by head coach Stanley Sturgis, are 6-0 as their eight-game regular season in the Eastern Maine Middle School Football League continues with games at Bucksport Oct. 18 or 19 and at Pittsfield Oct. 25 or 26, as THMS battles for an unbeaten campaign.

Thus far this season, the Lions have beaten, in order, visiting Brewer Sept. 6, host Five Town Football of Camden, Rockport, Lincolnville, Hope and Appleton Sept. 13, visiting Hermon Sept. 21, host Oceanside/Rockland Sept. 28, visiting Bangor Oct. 5 and visiting Mount Desert Island Oct. 12. The Lions defeated MDI 34-20.

Perhaps the most impressive recent win was over Bangor 12-6, an opponent the Lions had not beaten in at least 10 years, according to some program followers.

After several failed attempts to get a football game in, the rain finally broke and brought THMS and Bangor to Belfast Area High School to battle under the lights. It was a tough-nosed, hard-hitting defensive battle.

Both teams reverted to their passing attacks because running the ball proved ineffective. The first quarter was quiet on the scoring front as neither team was able to find the end zone. The second quarter proved different for the Lions as quarterback Drew Nealey tossed a 27-yard scoring pass to wide receiver Zach Darres.

Bangor answered with a score of its own. With neither team able to capitalize on their field-goal attempts, the score at halftime was 6-6.

The outcome eventually came down to the wire.

With the clock showing less a minute, THMS quarterback Nealey stepped up on the defensive side. Playing cornerback, Nealey intercepted a Bangor pass and ran the ball 50 yards. As time ticked down, Andrew Goguen moved the ball another five yards. As time dwindled, the Lions were in a position to run one more play. With roughly 30 yards to paydirt — and a continuation to an undefeated season on the line — the Lions gathered on the 30-yard line for one final attack.

Quarterback Nealey settled under center and looked once to his left and once to the right then a perfect snap from center Rory Ambrose and getting solid protection from the offensive line, Nealey tossed a arching pass to Marlin Hansen, who bulled over one defender and plowed his way into the end zone for the go-ahead touchdown.

Time was still left on the clock and the Lions special team’s players hit the field to kick off to their formidable foes. The boys in blue and gold needed a final defensive stop. The special team’s unit did its job by holding the Rams to midfield. After three successive pass attempts, the Rams succumbed to time running out and the Lions walked off the field with their blue helmets in the sky and smiles on their faces.

The Lions had beaten Bangor for the first time in memory.

Having three or more tackles for the Lions were Hansen, as well as a quarterback sack, Billy Pantoja, Alex Fritz, Ambrose, Edwin Johnson, Alex Canning and Lucien Gordley-Smith.

Oceanside game

In a game played under the lights in Rockland, Oceanside had the ball first and marched down the field for the first touchdown. The Lions turned up the heat with a 45-yard touchdown run by Canning, followed by a Hansen field goal.

A few plays later, Goguen added six points with a 30-yard touchdown run. Before the first half was over, Darres caught a 10-yard pass from quarterback Emery Dinsmore to make the score 20-6.

In the second half, Oceanside added six more points to the board but that was all the hosts got as Canning, running 55 yards in three carries, scored the final touchdown of the game. Hansen added two points with a kick to bring the score to 28-12.

Having three or more tackles for Troy Howard were Ben Robson, Pantoja, Hansen, Goguen, Ambrose, Gordley-Smith, Canning, Craig Brown, Johnson, Tyler Macleod and Zach Darres

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