Cheverus holds on for dear life to beat Lewiston

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Cheverus senior Teigan Lindstedt tries to elude Lewiston senior Tanner Cortes during the Stags’ 19-13 victory Saturday afternoon. Lindstedt ran for the go-ahead touchdown in the fourth quarter.

Mike Strout photos.

More photos below.

BOX SCORE

Cheverus 19 Lewiston 13

L- 0 0 13 0- 13
C- 0 0 13 6- 19

First quarter
No scoring

Second quarter
No scoring

Third quarter
C- Tompkins 35 run (Harris kick)
L- Landry 21 pass from Cortes (pass failed)
C- Trafford 43 run (kick failed)
L- Landry 53 run (Whiting kick)

Fourth quarter
C- Lindstedt 27 run (kick blocked)

PORTLAND—Combine a sport featuring an odd-shaped ball with two even teams and it’s no surprise that Saturday afternoon’s Class A North showdown between Cheverus and Lewiston was decided by some wacky bounces in a game of inches.

The first half was one of futility, as the Stags couldn’t get near the end zone, while the Blue Devils, at one juncture, were inches away, but after one of the most improbable plays in recent memory, couldn’t score either and the game went to the break scoreless.

Both offenses awakened to the tune of two touchdowns apiece in a third quarter that produced no separation.

Cheverus junior speedster Sean Tompkins opened the scoring with a 35-yard touchdown run for a 7-0 lead, but Lewiston roared right back when senior quarterback Tanner Cortes hit senior Hunter Landry for a 21-yard score, but a two-point conversion pass attempt failed, keeping the Stags on top.

Junior Ian Trafford then ran for a 43-yard score, extending Cheverus’ lead, but the Stags failed on the extra point, allowing the Blue Devils to draw even at 13-13 when Landry scored on a 53-yard jaunt and junior Jaheim Whiting added the PAT.

The battle of attrition continued in the fourth quarter until Cheverus went on top to stay with 5:30 remaining, as senior Teigan Lindstedt scored on a 27-yard run, but again, the Stags couldn’t convert the extra point, keeping their lead at six.

The Blue Devils would race up the field in the final minute, getting as far as the Cheverus 7 before a dubious intentional grounding penalty backed them up five yards and left them time for one final play, a pass into the end zone which Cheverus senior Colt Dumond knocked down to preserve the Stags’ breathtaking 19-13 victory.

The Stags improved to 2-0 at home, 2-1 overall and in the process, handed valiant Lewiston its third loss in as many games this fall.

“That’s why we (coach), to see young guys grow,” said Cheverus coach Mike Vance. “We talked a lot about maturity this week. The ball bounces funny and you never know.” 

Back on track

Cheverus looked good in its opener, downing visiting Massabesic, 43-6, but last Friday night, the Stags fell behind, 21-0, at Portland early and were doomed by five turnovers in a 37-7 loss to the Bulldogs.

Lewiston started with losses to visiting Oxford Hills (34-0) and at Thornton Academy (47-7).

Last year, Cheverus lost at Lewiston, 20-14.

Saturday, on a pleasant late-summer afternoon (68-degrees at kickoff) that started with fog in the area before it burned off to provide a canvas of glorious sunshine, the Stags beat the Blue Devils at home for the first time since a 68-16 drubbing in 2015.

Cheverus won the opening coin toss and deferred possession to the second half.

Lewiston started at its 35 and after Stags junior Sean Sullivan tackled Landry for a one-yard loss, Landry picked up six yards and Cortes found senior Lucas Nichols for 31 yards and a first down at Cheverus’ 29. After successive incompletions, Cortes went to the air again and his pass was tipped into the hands of Stags senior Akera Oryem, who returned the interception 35 yards to set Cheverus up at the Blue Devils’ 45.

The Stags then began to move, as Tompkins ran right for 13 yards and left for 10 more and a first down at the 22. After Lindstedt was held for no gain, a holding penalty backed Cheverus up, junior quarterback Marc Reali threw incomplete and after Tompkins picked up 14 yards on third-and-15, Trafford got the ball, but was thrown for a two-yard loss by junior Jordan Carter, giving Lewiston the ball back on downs at its 15.

Successive five-yard runs by Landry moved the chains, but the Blue Devils were called for holding, Whiting ran for nine yards and Cortes picked up two, but on the ensuing snap, the ball got away and while Cortes fell on it, the play resulted in a 16-yard loss, forcing a punt.

After just a 19-yard boot by Whiting, the Stags again had great field position, at Lewiston’s 28, but Reali was sacked for a seven-yard loss by junior Konnor Voisine, Reali threw incomplete and Lindstedt ran for just five yards on third-and-17, necessitating a punt, which went into the end zone for a touchback.

With 2:16 to go in the first period, the Blue Devils started at their 20 and again, began to move, as Cortes and sophomore Danny May each ran for five yards and a first down. After May ran for three yards and junior Dylon Jackson gained one, the quarter ended (Lewiston had a 44-28 edge in yardage).

On the first play of the second period, Cortes kept the ball for four yards, but that left the Blue Devils two yards short and they had to punt again.

Cheverus then started at its 27, but after Trafford gained five yards and Trafford ran for four yards and fumbled, only to have Tompkins fall on the ball, Trafford was thrown for a two-yard loss by May on third-and-1.

Lewiston then took over at its 31 and came oh-so-close to breaking the scoring ice.

After Landry picked up 12 yards, lowering his head to move the pile, a holding penalty backed the Blue Devils to their 35,

On the next snap, Cortes threw deep down the left sideline to Nichols, who soared to make the catch, eluded another defender and appeared home free for the end zone when he, untouched, let the ball slip out of his grasp at the 1. After a scrum, the ball rolled into the end zone and Dumond fell on it, not only preventing Lewiston from taking the lead, but also allowing the Stags to take over at their 20 on the stunning touchback.

“It looked like (Nichols) was trying to lift his arm up and when he brought it back down, he just hit (the ball),” Dumond said. “I just dove on it. I knew we had to stop them and when I dove on it, I knew we’d done that. It was a huge play.”

Cheverus wasn’t able to take advantage of the Blue Devils’ largesse, however.

After Lindstedt picked up a yard, the Stags earned a first down at the 36 on a pass interference penalty. Then, after Tompkins gained seven yards, Trafford moved the chains with a four-yard pickup. The drive ended there, as after a holding penalty and an intentional grounding penalty set up second-and-32, Lindstedt ran for 11 yards and Reali threw incomplete.

With 4:16 left in the half, Lewiston started at its 20 and the Blue Devils picked up a first down, as Landry ran for five yards and Cortes twice gained three yards. Nichols returned to form by making a gorgeous 18-yard diving catch, but sophomore Greyden Lindstedt dropped May for a one-yard loss and a pair of Cortes incompletions forced another punt.

Cheverus started at its 5 with 1:18 on the clock and after Teigan Lindstedt ran for eight-yards, then seven, Reali was intercepted by a sliding Landry at the Lewiston 48.

The Blue Devils only had 13.2 seconds to work with and after an incomplete pass and a five-yard Cortes-to-Landry pass, Sullivan sacked Cortes for a nine-yard loss, bringing an end to a 0-0 first half.

In the first 24 minutes, Lewiston had a 136-61 advantage in yardage, but despite Cortes’ 118 passing yards, couldn’t grab the lead.

Both team’s offenses then showed up when the second half began.

The Stags started the third quarter with the ball at their 33 and four plays and 90 seconds later, were in the end zone for the first time.

The drive started with Lindstedt picking up big chunks of 12-, nine- and 11-yards, putting the ball at the Blue Devils’ 35. On the next snap, Reali handed off to Tompkins, who burst through a hole on the left and Tompkins didn’t stop until he crossed the goal line for a 35-yard touchdown with 10:23 to go in the period. Harris added the PAT for a 7-0 lead.

Landry returned the ensuing kickoff 43 yards to the Cheverus 37 and nine plays and 3:40 later, Lewiston was on the board.

After Greyden Lindstedt held May to no gain, Landry ran for five yards (on the play, offsetting personal fouls were called, keeping it second down), Landry gained two and after May was thrown for a one-yard loss by Sullivan and Greyden Lindstedt, on fourth-and-4, Cortes hit Whiting for eight yards to pick up a first down at the 23. Cortes then sandwiched incompletions around a two-yard Landry run, but on fourth-and-8, Cortes threw a screen to Landry on the left and Landry did the rest, picking up the first down and more, racing into the end zone for a 21-yard score. On the play, a personal foul, block in the back penalty was called on the Blue Devils and that loomed large, as they were pushed back 15 yards for an extra point attempt that resulted in a high snap and errant pass, keeping Cheverus on top, 7-6, with 6:34 remaining in the third.

The Stags then embarked on another scoring drive, this one 73 yards in seven plays, which chewed up 4:15.

Teigan Lindstedt lost two yards on the first play, but picked up 15 on the next to move the chains. After Trafford ran for a yard and Tompkins gained five, Tompkins picked up 10 on a sweep right to set up first down at the Lewiston 44. After Reali gained a yard, Trafford got the ball again and this time, he found room on the left side and Trafford took off, cut back at the 5 to elude a tackler, then crossed the goal line to complete a 43-yard scoring run.

Trafford was called for unsportsmanlike conduct after an exuberant spike (which was enforced on the ensuing kickoff) and Harris missed the PAT wide left, but Cheverus had a 13-6 lead with 2:14 on the clock.

Again, the Blue Devils responded, as they started at midfield after the penalty and after Cortes lost three yards diving on a bad snap, Landry got the carry, ran to the left, took off and outran the pursuit for a 53-yard score with 1:17 remaining. Whiting’s extra point was partially blocked, but it got over the crossbar to tie the game, 13-13.

The Stags got the ball back at their 45 and after Tompkins ran for a yard and Lindstedt gained three to end the third quarter, Reali completed his lone pass of the afternoon, a little flare out of the backfield to Tompkins, good for 34 yards to the Lewiston 17.

Cheverus wouldn’t convert, however, as after Lindstedt gained four yards and Trafford picked up three, Tompkins was held to no gain and Reali overthrew Oryem in the end zone, giving the Blue Devils the ball back on downs at their 10 with 9:33 to play.

Lewiston was able to pick up a first down, as after sophomore Gio Fornaro dropped Landry for a three-yard loss, Landry ran for nine-yards, then seven to move the chains to the 23. After May was held for no gain, a bad snap led to a 16-yard loss and after Whiting ran for seven, the Blue Devils had to punt.

Enter Dumond again, who fielded the ball at midfield and returned the punt 20 yards to the Lewiston 30 with 5:46 remaining, setting the Stags up for the go-ahead score.

“I noticed they were jogging down and I thought I may as well take it and get a few more yards,” Dumond said.

“Colt’s an underrated player,” Vance said. “He’s a good athlete. He’s not flashy, but he’s extremely dependable. He’s in the right place at the right time.”

Cheverus needed just two plays and 16 seconds to go back on top.

After Reali ran for three yards, Lindstedt took the ball, ran up the gut and raced into the end zone from 27-yards out with 5:30 on the clock.

“We held a couple plays in reserve,” Lindstedt said. “We saw a few things that worked and we stuck with it. I saw an open hole. I had a guy on my back, but I wasn’t going to stop until I reached the end zone.”

“The kids settled down a little bit and I saw a couple things I thought we could get going and we did,” Vance said. “We made adjustments. Teigan is a tough competitor. He’s very mature. He’s definitely a leader for us.”

Lewiston got the ball back at its 32, but the Stags’ defense rose to the occasion, forcing a three-and-out.

After Landry ran for three yards, another bad snap led to a 13-yard loss. After another bad snap, Cortes hit junior Evan Williams for two yards and Whiting caught a pass for two yards, but the Blue Devils had to punt.

Cheverus got the ball back at its 39 with 2:47 on the clock, but wasn’t able to run out the clock, as after Lindstedt gained five yards, he fumbled and Whiting recovered for the Blue Devils at the Stags’ 49 with 2:34 to go.

Lewiston had ample time to drive for the winning score, but again, Cheverus’ defense stood tall, as on the next snap, Cortes was intercepted by sophomore Anthony Pacitti, who returned the ball to the Blue Devils’ 41.

Again, the Stags had a chance to run out the clock, but Lewiston’s defense forced a three-and-out. Lindstedt ran for three yards, Tompkins was dropped for a two-yard loss by Jackson and Trafford’s four-yard run on third-and-9 necessitated a punt.

Tompkins booted the ball to the Lewiston 5, where Landry grabbed it and returned it 20 yards to give the Blue Devils one final chance with 1:13 remaining.

Lewiston was out of timeouts, but almost drove the field and won it regardless.

After a false start penalty, Cortes twice threw incomplete, then hit Landry for four yards, setting up fourth-and-11, where Cortes found May on a screen which went for 18 yards to the 42 with 23.1 seconds on the clock.

Cortes then found Williams for 35 yards down the left sideline to the Cheverus 23 with 14.2 seconds remaining.

Next, Cortes hit Whiting for 16 yards to the 7 and the clock stopped momentarily with 3.5 seconds showing.

Cortes then went to spike the ball and two things happened.

First, the clock never started and more importantly and much to the Blue Devils’ chagrin, Cortes’ spike was bafflingly ruled as intentional grounding and the ball was moved back to the 12.

That left time for one final play.

Cortes dropped back, looked for Williams in the right front of the end zone and lofted a pass that had a chance, but at the last second, Dumond, that man again, leaped and knocked the ball away to preserve Cheverus’ 19-13 victory.

“I knew they wouldn’t run it, so I knew they might come back to (Williams) and I got ready and I swatted it down,” said Dumond. “It’s a great feeling.”

“It shows great mental toughness, sticking with it until the last whistle,” said Teigan Lindstedt. “Sometimes things don’t go your way and it’s how you bounce back that matters. Our defense holds us in the game. They have great mental toughness. Defense wins games. This win is huge for us, to bounce back after (Portland). We can still improve, but it’s a big step.”

“Winning means a lot,” Vance added. “We’re trying to mature as a group and I think we’re moving in the right direction. We found a way. The kids played gritty and were more mature than last week. That was in our favor. We had to play good, sound defense at the end and we were able to make that play.”

The Stags finished with 291 yards of offense and overcame two turnovers and six penalties for 47 yards.

Lindstedt had 122 yards and scored a touchdown on 17 carries.

Tompkins had 93 rushing yards and a score on 10 attempts. He also had one reception for 34 yards.

Trafford ran nine times for 59 yards with a touchdown.

Reali completed 1 of 8 passes for 34 yards. He was intercepted once.

Lewiston tallied 289 yards of offense, but was flagged seven times for 66 yards and committed three costly turnovers.

Cortes went 12 of 24 passing, good for 224 yards with a touchdown and two picks.

Landry had 94 rushing yards and a TD and added 30 receiving yards and a score,.

Nichols had 113 yards on three receptions.

“It was a great football game,” said Blue Devils coach Bruce Nicholas. “I’m pleased with how we fought. Typically, the past few years here, we roll over and lose 40- or 50-nothing, but the guys are getting there. We’ve still got to come up with ways to win football games.”

Road success?

Lewiston tries again to get in the win column when it returns home Friday to meet 2-1 Portland.

“We’ve gotten tested, but this is something we can build off,” Nicholas said. “I think one win could lead to two wins. We just have to get rolling.”

Cheverus attempts to earn its first road victory Friday when it plays at 1-2 Deering, as the Rams debut their new turf field.

“We have to button down and play better on offense because our defense is solid,” said Dumond.

“I really think we’ll be in the mix,” Teigan Lindstedt said. “We have to button down and be mature and play our best.”

Sports Editor Michael Hoffer can be reached at mhoffer@theforecaster.net. Follow him on Twitter: @foresports.

Cheverus junior quarterback Marc Reali takes advantage of a strong pocket and throws a pass.

Cheverus junior Gavin Callahan sacks Lewiston senior quarterback Tanner Cortes as senior Vick Morrone joins the fray.

Lewiston senior Lucas Nichols makes a catch in front of Cheverus senior Colt Dumond.

Cheverus junior Sean Tompkins tries to break the tackle of Lewiston senior Tanner Cortes.

Cheverus junior Ian Trafford finds running room.

Cheverus junior Sean Sullivan brings down Lewiston senior Tanner Cortes.

In a pivotal first half sequence, Cheverus senior Colt Dumond dives into the fray to recover a fumble after Lewiston senior Lucas Nichols dropped the ball on his way to the end zone.

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Sports Editor of The Forecaster since 2001. Find detailed game stories at theforecaster.net. I tweet prodigiously at @foresports.