Cheverus levels Lewiston, improves to 2-0
PORTLAND—The Cheverus football team has spent a lot of time at Fitzpatrick Stadium over the years (including twice celebrating state championships), so it wasn't exactly a hardship when Saturday's contest was moved from Boulos Stadium across town to due to poor field conditions.
In fact, the Stags could have hosted Lewiston anywhere and probably had their way.
Cheverus quickly ended Saturday's contest, posting 28 points in the first quarter and adding three more touchdowns in the second for a commanding 49-0 lead. Junior Joe Fitzpatrick ran wild, to the tune of 192 yards, with five TDs, as the Stags ended all doubt.
The second half was played with reserves, but Cheverus managed to find the end zone three more times and went on to a decisive 67-8 victory over Blue Devils.
Six different players scored touchdowns and the Stags dominated all facets of the game as they improved to 2-0 on the young season, dropping Lewiston to 0-2 in the process.
"I thought we executed very well," said Cheverus coach John Wolfgram. "The best way to describe it is that we were efficient. The line came off the ball well. The second half, we had a chance to play a lot of kids. They took advantage and played well. We're just trying to get better as a team every week."
Cheverus hadn't played Lewiston in recent memory, but the Blue Devils always bring a smile to the Stags and their fans because of Cheverus' 65-13 victory in the 1985 Class A state final, the program's first championship.
Now, with the Stags in the restructured Eastern A, thanks to Maine high school football going from three classes to four, Cheverus and Lewiston will be regular opponents again.
The Blue Devils dropped a tough opener, 34-28, at Oxford Hills, while the Stags extended their regular season win streak to 18 last weekend with a 35-25 victory at Portland.
Saturday, Cheverus took control from the get-go and it wasn't long until the streak reached 19.
Lewiston won the opening coin toss, but chose to defer possession to the second half.
As a result, by the time the Blue Devils saw the ball, they were behind.
The Stags started at their 37 and marched 63 yards on seven plays to take the lead for good.
A 27-yard run by Fitzpatrick, with a 15-yard facemask penalty tacked on, got Cheverus close, but the Stags had to convert a fourth-and-17, which they did thanks to back-to-back Lewiston penalties and a 6-yard Fitzpatrick run. On the next snap, Fitzpatrick got the ball again and bulled in from the 6. Junior placekicker Patrick Mourmouras added the extra point and with 8:46 to play in the first quarter, Cheverus had a 7-0 lead.
Blue Devils junior standout Quintarian Brown almost broke away for a touchdown on the ensuing kickoff, but Stags junior Zordan Holman (more on him in a moment) made a saving tackle at the 45. Brown then gained 6-yards on a rush, but fumbled and Cheverus sophomore Kenny Drelich recovered.
After trading punts, the Stags got the ball at their 49 and after sophomore Isaac Dunn ran for 19 yards, senior Cody O'Brien took a handoff and rambled 32 yards to paydirt. Mourmouras' kick stretched the lead to 14-0 with 4:06 left in the stanza.
Lewiston went three-and-out and Cheverus got the ball back at its 37. This time, it took one play to score as Fitzpatrick blew through the line and didn't stop until reaching paydirt on a 63-yard scamper. Mourmouras' extra point made it 21-0 with 3:09 left in the first.
Again, the Blue Devils had to punt after going three-and-out and the Stags started at midfield.
For the second "drive" in a row, Fitzpatrick got the handoff, blew through the line untouched and outraced the pursuit to the end zone for a 50-yard touchdown.
"The biggest keys were Cody leading me through the holes and the offensive line taking care of business," said Fitzpatrick. "I just had to do my thing. (Sophomore) Frankie Curran took care of the (line)backer and it was just green grass. It was the same play and Frankie did the same thing."
Mourmouras' point-after gave Cheverus a 28-0 advantage after just 12 minutes.
In the first quarter, the Stags gained 231 yards, while the Blue Devils managed just 5 (with no first downs). Making matters worse for the overmatched visitors, they were penalized five times for 40 yards.
Cheverus didn't let up in the second period.
After a 30-yard punt return from sophomore Justin Johnson, the Stags took over at the Blue Devils' 18. Four plays later, Fitzpatrick ran in from the 4 and Mourmouras added the extra point.
After Lewiston picked it up its initial first down, its drive stalled and the Blue Devils had to punt. A 34-yard return from Johnson set the Stags up at the Lewiston 31 and seven plays later, Fitzpatrick ran in from the 4 to make it 42-0.
A sack from Cheverus junior Matt Drouin short-circuited the next Blue Devils' possession and senior Eddie Emerson went back to punt, but Holman blew through the line, blocked the kick, picked up the ball at the Lewiston 30 and ran it in for the touchdown giving the Stags a 49-0 advantage, one they would take to the half.
"I got through and did what we do in practice," Holman said, of the block. "It's a turnover anyway, so we practice picking it up and scoring. It felt good."
In the first 24 minutes, Cheverus outgained the Blue Devils, 280-13.
The start of the second half produced a scary moment as the elusive and talented Brown, after gaining 9 yards, slammed his head into the turf and lay on the field for some 20 minutes before he was boarded for precautionary purposes and taken away by ambulance (preliminary reports held that he was moving his extremities and was expected to be OK).
When play resumed, the Stags forced a punt and Cheverus' second team offense took over at the Lewiston 36. The Stags weren't able to score, but after giving the ball over on downs, the Blue Devils gave it right back as a bad pitch was fumbled and Cheverus senior Peter Dutton fell on the loose pigskin at the Lewiston 26.
Three plays later, junior Jack Zinn ran in from 11-yards out for a 55-0 advantage.
The Blue Devils then drove to midfield, but fumbled the ball away (senior Cavan Dudley made the recovery). As the third period gave way to the fourth, the Stags drove 49 yards on eight plays to stretch the advantage to 61-0 on a 7-yard TD run up the gut by junior Lowell Harmon.
With 3:42 to go, Lewiston finally broke through as junior "Ace" Curry launched a deep pass that was deflected by a Cheverus defender right into the hands of junior Sheon James, who ran in to complete a 49-yard score. Curry kept the ball and scored the ensuing two-point conversion to cut the deficit to 61-8.
Trying to run out the clock, the Stags scored once more as sophomore Sam Thayer broke free down the right sideline. Wolfgram yelled at Thayer to go out of bounds, but the running back didn't hear his coach and completed the 52-yard scoring run to bring the curtain down on Cheverus' 67-8 triumph.
"We want to play 48 minutes of football," said Holman. "That's all we did today."
"Our first level plays worked well, so we stayed with them," Wolfgram said.
Not surprisingly, the Stags had a huge statistical edge, outgaining the Blue Devils, 398-127, on the ground. Fitzpatrick led the way with his 192 yards on 12 carries (five of which ended up in the end zone).
"Joe's a workhorse," said Holman. "We give it to him and when he touches the ball, something special can happen. He's a great back and our O line played really well."
O'Brien managed 42 yards and a TD on six rushes.
Then there were the reserves, Harmon, Schott, Thayer and Zinn, who combined for 138 yards and three TDs.
"The second string guys are just as important as the first string because in practice, they get us where we need to be," Fitzpatrick said. "I have to give them a lot of credit. They did a great job. They're the next guys up in the program. I was in the same position last year."
Cheverus was penalized just once (for five yards) and didn't commit a turnover, while forcing three.
Lewiston's offense was led by Brown, who had 70 yards on 13 carries before leaving with his injury. He certainly impressed the Stags with his ability.
"(Quintarian's very) good," Wolfgram said. "One of the top athletes in the conference. I thought we got after him pretty well and did a nice job containing him."
The Blue Devils were hindered by six penalties for 45 yards.
Another new foe
While Lewiston meets Windham for the first time next weekend (the Blue Devils host), Cheverus will play host to 1-1 Oxford Hills (Saturday, 12:30 p.m.). As impressive as the Stags continue to be (they have now won 36 of their last 37 games), improvement in all facets of the game remains the theme.
"We just have to be disciplined and listen to Coach," Holman said. "He knows what's best."
"We treat every team the same, it doesn't matter what their record is or where they're from," said Fitzpatrick. "Any team can hurt us. We definitely have things to work on. We'll keep getting better and better."
"I don't think there's one particular thing, but overall, fundamentally, we can get better," Wolfgram added. "We can expand the playbook a little bit. We're just trying to grow week by week."