Bonny Eagle rains on Deering's parade; Scots pull away for 34-12 victory
PORTLAND—The Deering football team couldn't have asked for a better start to its home opener.
On the first play from scrimmage, senior quarterback Jamie Ross found classmate John Hardy for a 48-yard pass play and two plays later, Ross and junior Renaldo Lowry hooked up for an 11-yard score.
Unfortunately for the Rams, football is a four quarter game and after the powerhouse Bonny Eagle Scots got their bearings, they controlled the final 36 minutes.
Bonny Eagle scored four times in just over seven minutes in the second quarter and went on to a 34-12 triumph in the rain at Memorial Field, dropping Deering to 2-1 on the season, while improving to 3-0 in the process.
"We're improving by the day," said Scots coach Kevin Cooper. "This was a good test for us to come down here in a difficult situation, giving up the lead right off."
Coming off a 2-6 season a year ago (which included a 41-21 loss at Bonny Eagle), Deering was bound and determined to make a statement in 2010. The Rams got off to a great start with a come-from-behind 21-14 victory at rival Portland and a 41-6 drubbing of host Gorham, but the Scots are a different animal entirely.
Bonny Eagle won the 2004, 2005, 2007 and 2008 Class A crowns and over the past six years had won seven of nine meetings with Deering. In 2010, the Scots opened by blanking host Westbrook, 35-0, then romped over visiting Portland, 55-20.
The Rams appeared to be in great shape in the first quarter of Thursday's game (which was moved up 24 hours due to the Jewish holiday of Yom Kippur), but they couldn't sustain the momentum and soon found themselves overwhelmed by Bonny Eagle's dominance.
After one of several nice kickoff returns from promising sophomore Dominic Lauture, Deering got the ball at its 39 to start the contest. Ross dropped back to pass on first down and launched a bomb to Hardy, who caught the pass and raced to the Scots' 13 before being tackled. After junior Nick DiBiase lost a yard on a first down rush, Ross ran for three, then threw an 11-yard rainbow to Lowry in the end zone for a 6-0 lead, just 1 minute, 37 seconds into the contest. Ross missed the extra point, but the Rams had the lead.
Bonny Eagle gained a first down on its initial possession, but a 39-yard scamper by senior quarterback Matt Rollins was negated by an illegal block in the back penalty and the Scots eventually had to punt. A sack short-circuited the next Deering series, but the Rams again stepped up on defense, forcing another Bonny Eagle punt.
As the first period neared its close, Deering had to punt again and this time the Scots were ready to turn on the offense.
On a drive which took eight plays and just under three minutes to traverse 43 yards, Bonny Eagle got an 11-yard run from senior Ethan Thorne and steady running from Rollins and junior Nick Adkins, setting up a 2-yard Thorne TD run with 9:54 to play in the first half. When senior Nate Martel added the extra point, the Scots had the lead for good, 7-6.
The Rams then did themselves in.
On the first play of the next series, Lauture fumbled after a 7-yard run and Bonny Eagle took over at the Deering 27. Six plays later it was 14-6 when Adkins scored on a 4-yard run and Martel added the extra point.
The Scots' ensuing kickoff went high and took a bounce around the Rams' 30. Senior Chris Hale alertly raced in and grabbed the ball before a Deering player could touch it and just like that, Bonny Eagle was once again in business at the Rams' 27.
This time it took just two plays to find paydirt. After Rollins gained 7 yards on a first down rush, the quarterback ran up the gut, then cut to the right for a 20-yard score. With 6:15 to play in the first half, Martel added the extra point to make it 21-6, capping a three TD surge in just 3 minutes, 39 seconds.
"Good teams force turnovers and when they get them, take advantage," Cooper said. "I'm pleased with our team that we were able to do that."
To its credit, Deering responded by driving 65 yards in 3:02. A 48-yard Ross-to-Hardy pass got the Rams close and on fourth-and-goal from the 1, Ross snuck in over the left side for the TD. A personal foul penalty backed the hosts up 15 yards, preventing a two-point conversion attempt, and Ross' extra point try was blocked.
Bonny Eagle would promptly score again as Rollins gained 62 yards to the 1, then gained the final yard on the next play. Martel's extra point made it 28-12.
After Deering was forced to punt, the Scots got the ball with just under a minute to play and threatened again when Thorne broke free and rambled from his 29 to the Rams' 10. At the end of the run, however, a Deering defender forced a fumble and senior John Miranda recovered to keep the score 28-12 at halftime.
In the second period, Bonny Eagle scored 28 points in 7 minutes, 16 seconds and outgained the Rams, 204 yards to 67.
In the third period, Deering had good field position, but couldn't cut into the deficit.
First, a bad snap led to a loss of 19 yards, forcing a punt. Then, a hold pushed the Rams back twice and ultimately forced a punt.
Late in the quarter, the Scots moved from their 20 all the way down the field anew. A 12-yard run by Rollins got the chains moving. On the next play, the quarterback found senior Cameron McKague for a 15-yard pass. A 15-yard Rollins run got Bonny Eagle close and with 1:21 to go in the period, Adkins raced in for a 26-yard rushing TD, breaking three tackles in the process. The extra point was wide left, but the lead was up to 34-12.
The visitors were happy to run out the clock in the fourth quarter and Deering gave the ball up on a fumble and a loss of downs before the Scots extinguished the final 6:38, putting the punctuation mark on their emphatic 34-12 triumph.
"Give credit to Deering," Cooper said. "They put us on our heels a little bit in the first quarter. They came out doing what we expected they'd do. Get the ball to their playmakers. It was good to see our team settle down, take control and pull away."
For the game, Ross rushed for 73 yards and a score on 15 carries and completed 10-of-21 passes for 155 yards and a TD. He also ran for a first down on a fake punt and saved at least one other bad snap on a punt and got the kick away with his stellar athleticism.
Rest assured, Cooper was well aware of what Ross brings to the table.
"It's hard against Ross because they have great deep threats in Lowry and Hardy," Cooper said. "You have to defend the deep pass. Then it's hard to stop Ross on the running game. You have to cheat a guy up sometimes to help the run defense. Sometimes you have to cheat back. It's kind of the chess game that is football. Deering presents problems with the athletes they put on the field."
Hardy caught eight balls for 138 yards. Lowry (1 for 11 and a score) and sophomore James Doyle (1-6) had the other catches. DiBiase gained 23 yards on nine attempts. Lauture finished with one carry for 7 yards.
The Rams gave the ball up twice due to turnovers and were flagged six times for 73 yards.
For Bonny Eagle, Rollins led the way with 196 yards and a TD on 18 carries on the ground. He also completed 3-of-10 passes for 32 yards. McKague (1-15), junior Cam Cooper (1-12) and junior Matt Burnell (1-5) had the receptions.
Thorne rushed for 114 yards and a score on 10 attempts. Adkins (who gained just 14 yards in the first half) finished with 92 yards and a TD on 18 tries.
The Scots had one turnover and committed nine penalties for a whopping 115 yards, but finished with an overwhelming 409-182 advantage in total offense.
Bonny Eagle (3-0) hosts South Portland next weekend, hoping to avenge a surprising, last-second, 48-45 loss from a year ago.
"Teams have to grow during the season to win a championship and we're on that road right now," Cooper said.
As for Deering (2-1), a pivotal home test awaits next Friday when defending Class A champion Windham (0-2 heading into a game at Gorham) comes calling. With tests still remaining against the likes of Thornton Academy, South Portland and Cheverus, the Rams really need to defeat the Eagles.
Sports Editor Michael Hoffer can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org