For 48 minutes under the glare and spotlight of the lights of Wasgatt Field on Friday night, Sept. 27, the Mariners and Lions battled for every blade of grass as Oceanside and Belfast refused to give an inch in an attempt to win the midseason high school football game and a boatload of playoff points.

The visiting Lions scored seven points on a run and extra-point kick in the first half and the Mariners answered with six in the second and, despite a handful of electrifying plays by both teams, that was it for the scoring as Belfast pulled out a 7-6 victory.

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The lone score for Belfast came on a 35-yard run by Isaak Cunningham in the second quarter, while Cole Martin followed with what proved the pivotal, game-winning extra-point kick.

“This game wasn’t about gaudy statistics,” said Belfast coach Brian Goff. “This was a good old-fashioned slobber-knocker. It was the definition of a defensive battle.”

Oceanside coach Wes Drinkwater was unimpressed with his team’s performance Friday as “Belfast was more physical, more focused and tougher mentally and physically.”

“I have told them time and time again that our attitude was going to cost us a game and the ignorant, immature dramatics they love cost us Friday,” said he said. “Kudos to Belfast for getting in their heads.”

The Mariners got a touchdown on a one-yard plunge by Matt Spear in the third quarter, but a 15-yard taunting penalty pushed the hosts back too far to attempt the game-tying extra point.

The two-point conversion pass failed, and Belfast maintained that one-point lead for the rest of the contest.

Goff said the game ball goes “to the entire defense and defensive coordinator Rick Kelley,” who called “one heck of a game.”

Chris Fournier and Brian White set the tone defensively along with “a lift from senior defensive tackle Gage Newcomb, who saw his first game action on the year and who gave us some quality defensive reps.”

Donovin Armstrong also came away with a key interception in the second half for Belfast, while Goff dubbed Tanner Veilleux as “Mr. Reliable” in Friday’s game as he lined up at tight end, running back, wide receiver, defensive back and linebacker at various times throughout the game.

Goff said the Lion fans traveled in droves and he believed outnumbered the Mariner home crowd.

“[They] were definitely a factor in us winning the game,” he said of the crowd. “They were loud and supportive to our players and coaches and also distracting to the Oceanside offense, especially late in the fourth quarter when we needed a late defensive stand to preserve the win.”

Drinkwater said perhaps the most significant loss — other than the one on the scoreboard — was Austin Pagano, who he called the team’s “best football player,” was lost for the season with a broken arm.

He said running back Zeke Miller and Jacob Carroll at linebacker were the bright spots for the Mariners.

The Lions also suffered several injuries during the contest, including to wide receiver and defensive end Chris Kelley in the first half. He was taken from the field by ambulance with what was believed an arm injury.

The win pushed the Lions ahead of the Mariners in the Maine Principals' Association Crabtree Points for Class C North. Belfast (3-1, 112.5000 points) is fourth and Oceanside (2-2, 100.0000 points) sixth.

Maine Central Institute of Pittsfield is first at 4-0 and 150.0000 points in the region. The top eight teams qualify for the playoffs.

This fall, Belfast has outscored opponents 98-57, while Oceanside has an 81-55 edge on foes.

Courier Publications' sports staff can be reached by email at sports@villagesoup.com or by phone at 594-4401.