(Ed. Note: For the complete Portland-Windham game story, with a box score and additional photos, see theforecaster.net)
The record will reflect that city football teams went 2-1 last weekend, but all three had a lot to be proud of.
Portland avenged its agonizing playoff loss from a year ago, handing highly touted Windham its first setback, 10-3.
Cheverus bounced back from its lopsided loss at Thornton Academy with a 68-16 home pummeling of Lewiston.
Deering was expected by many to get crushed by visiting Thornton Academy, but the Rams gave the defending Class A champion Golden Trojans fits before going down to a 42-20 defeat, their first of the season.
Portland won its first two games with relative ease, 47-26 at Scarborough and 33-0 at home over Edward Little. The Bulldogs’ offense was nowhere near as prolific Friday at Fitzpatrick Stadium, but the defense was phenomenal as Portland upset Windham (which beat the Bulldogs, 21-17, in last year’s Eastern A semifinals) and earned inside track on homefield advantage in Class A North.
Portland repeatedly shot itself in the foot in the first half, turning the ball over in its own territory on three different occasions, but all three times, the defense stood tall and those three opportunities produced only three Windham points, a 32-yard field goal midway through the second quarter.
It looked as if the Eagles would take that lead to halftime, but after getting a fraction of a second put back on the clock for a final play from the Bulldogs’ 33, Windham instead looked on in abject horror as Portland made the play that turned momentum for good.
At the horn, Eagles quarterback Desmond Leslie let a Hail Mary pass fly in the direction of the end zone, but Bulldogs junior Dylan Bolduc intercepted it at the Portland 3 and took off the other way. Bolduc had the left side to himself until he had to cut back at the end of his return to elude one final tackler and a convoy of Bulldogs escorted him into the end zone for a stunning touchdown which put Portland up, 7-3.
“(The officials) put a second back on and we didn’t really know why,” Bolduc said. “(Defensive coach Mike) Rutherford put us in the right spot and we knew the pass was coming. I didn’t think it would turn out the way it did. We were pretty fired up, but we knew the game wasn’t close to over and we couldn’t call it quits there.”
The Bulldogs then got the ball to start the second half and after being forced to punt, Portland instead dialed up the razzle-dazzle, as junior Nick Archambault hit senior Jake Hunnewell for a critical first down.
“It was something new we put in this week specifically for Windham,” said Archambault, of the fake. “We thought they had a hole in their punt coverage and we knew we could only do it once. The coaches pulled it out at the perfect time and we executed it.”
That set the stage for the booming right leg of senior placekicker John Williams, who drilled a 42-yard field goal for a 10-3 lead early in the third period.
From there, it was up to the Bulldogs’ defense and they rose to the occasion time and again, slamming the door on the heretofore unstoppable Eagles en route to a statement-making 10-3 victory.
Portland improved to 3-0 and dropped Windham to 2-1 in the process.
“The kids played well,” said Bulldogs coach Jim Hartman. “We knew we coughed that one up last year and we should have had it. I’m really proud. They’re learning how to play football and getting better. They’re just playing the game extremely well. The kids showed me guts and toughness. It’s a tough, tough team.”
Offensively, Portland only mustered 117 yards. The Bulldogs ran just 34 plays to 51 for the Eagles, held the ball for only 21 of 48 minutes, committed three turnovers and were flagged 10 times for 57 yards.
But they won.
Portland travels to 0-3 Oxford Hills Saturday afternoon, then returns home to meet recent nemesis Cheverus. Last season, the Bulldogs held off the visiting Vikings, 14-7.
“We have an extra day to prepare,” Archambault said. “We won’t take them lightly. We know they’ll try to come out and punch us in the mouth after our big win, but we’ll be ready.”
“We have to get things together on offense,” Hartman added. “We need big-time improvement. When we do, look out. Cheverus is on the horizon, but we can’t look past Oxford Hills. We can’t have a trap game. The kids have to stay focused.”
Cheverus beat visiting Oxford Hills in its opener, 42-14, then was humbled at Thornton Academy, 57-0. The Stags responded with a vengeance when they hosted Lewiston Saturday afternoon.
Midway through the first period, Justin Johnston scored on a 19-yard run to open the floodgates. Before the quarter ended, Johnston returned a punt 31-yards for a score, Rylan Benedict had a 14-yard scoring run and freshman Tre Fletcher ran 34 yards for a TD. Cheverus added two-point conversions after each touchdown and had a commanding 32-0 advantage. In the second period, Benedict had TD runs of 4- and 3-yards for a 48-0 lead at the break. With a “mercy rule” running clock going, the Stags made it 56-0 on a 57-yard scoring run from Fletcher. After the Blue Devils got back within 56-16, Cheverus closed it out behind a 57-yard TD run from Fletcher (six carries, 178 yards, three scores) and a 2-yard scoring run from Finn Cawley to romp, 68-16.
The 2-1 Stags welcome 2-1 Edward Little Saturday. Last year, Cheverus prevailed in Auburn, 41-7.
Deering handled host Massabesic (35-6) and eked out a 14-13 home win over Sanford to start the year, but wasn’t expected to be much more than cannon fodder for defending state champion Thornton Academy Friday.
After the Golden Trojans scored first late in the first quarter, quarterback Max Chabot scored on an 8-yard run to cut the deficit to 7-6. Thornton Academy scored again, but Rob Dacey ran it in from 6-yards out to make it 14-13 Golden Trojans. Thornton Academy managed to stretch its lead to 21-13 at halftime and 28-13 after three periods, then added two more TDs before Caysey Anthony scored one final time for the Rams to account for the 42-20 final score.
Deering (2-1) goes to 2-1 South Portland Friday night. The teams didn’t meet last year.
Portland’s Dylan Bolduc soars for a game-changing interception just before halftime of Friday’s showdown versus Windham. Bolduc returned the pick 97 yards to put the Bulldogs ahead and they went on to beat the Eagles, 10-3, in a rematch of last year’s playoff contest.
Portland’s Ethan Hoyt runs down Windham quarterback Desmond Leslie for a second half during the Bulldogs’ 10-3 home win over the Eagles Friday.