For the first time this autumn, all three city football teams were victorious on the same weekend.
Friday evening, Cheverus bounced back from its first setback with a 41-7 victory at Edward Little.
Not too far away, Deering held on for its second successive win, 29-22, at Lewiston.
Saturday night, Portland played host to Oxford Hills and eked out a 14-7 triumph.
Cheverus romped in its first three games, then was humbled at home by Windham, 35-7, as its 36-game regular season win streak came to a close. Friday, the Stags had no trouble getting back on track.
As is so often the case in Cheverus victories, senior standout Joe Fitzpatrick ran wild, rushing for 277 yards and three touchdowns in the first half alone. He opened the scoring with a 60-yard rush. The point-after was blocked, but Isaac Dunn threw to Zordan Holman for a 6-yard TD to make it 13-0 after one period. Fitpzatrick ran for scores of 52- and 9-yards and Justin Johnston added a 1-yard plunge for a 34-7 halftime lead. Fitzpatrick added his fourth TD in the third period, from 20-yards out, and the Stags finished off their 41-7 victory.
“Our line did a great job blocking, especially on outside sweeps,” said Fitzpatrick, who wound up with 319 yards on 31 carries. “I think overall we had a great first half and had great tempo in the second.”
“(Joe) had a good day,” said Cheverus coach John Wolfgram. “He’s a very good player.”
The Stags (4-1 and second to Windham in the Eastern Class A Crabtree Points standings) faces a stern test Saturday afternoon when it goes to 5-0 powerhouse Thornton Academy, a team Cheverus crushed last fall, 56-7, in Portland.
Coming off a 1-7 campaign, Deering came into the year saying that it hoped to be a playoff team, but no one outside of Stevens Avenue had much faith in the Rams. After three losses to start the year, Deering got in the win column against Massabesic on a memorable late touchdown, then went to Lewiston Friday and made it two in a row for the first time since the 2012 season.
The Rams jumped out, 9-0, behind a 37-yard field goal from Jacob Coon and a TD pass from quarterback Max Chabot to Dominick Bernard and after the Blue Devils pulled within 9-8 at halftime, Deering got a huge score, when Chabot hit Coon for a 33-yard touchdown to make it 16-8 at the break.
“Jacob’s got a broken finger with a cast on it,” said Rams coach Matt Riddell. “We checked that play off and went right to it and it was kind of nice.”
After Lewiston drew within 16-14 early in the second half, Chabot and Bernard hooked up for another score and a 23-14 lead. Again, the hosts rallied within a point, 23-22, but with two minutes to go, Kahlil Brown (who had 123 yards on 20 carries) scored from 20 yards out to clinch the 29-22 win.
“Our line and our receivers did a really good job,” Brown said. “I couldn’t have done what I did tonight without them.”
“Our defense wasn’t great tonight, but we were good when we needed to be,” said Deering’s Ben Williams, who intercepted a pass and recovered a fumble.
“We felt we could run the ball tonight and we did,’ Riddell added. “Kahlil has been bugging me for two years that he was a running back, so we gave him a shot and boy, he did a good job.”
The Rams (now 2-3 and sixth in Eastern A, where six teams make the playoffs) continue their postseason quest Friday when 2-3 Oxford Hills pays a visit. Last year, Deering lost at the Vikings, 18-8. Games versus winless Edward Little and rival Cheverus also remain.
“We want that home playoff game for our fans,” Williams said.
Portland was coming off an agonizing home loss to Bangor which saw it blow a 21-0 lead and lose in overtime, 28-27, to fall to 2-2 on the season. Saturday night, the Bulldogs hosted an Oxford Hills squad they pounded by 68 last season.
It wouldn’t be nearly as easy this time.
Portland took a 7-0 lead on Joe Esposito’s first quarter touchdown run. In the second period, after the Vikings pulled even, the Bulldogs got the decisive score on Jordan Talbot’s 31-yard TD scamper just before halftime. Oxford Hills drove late in the game looking to tie or win, but unlike last week, Portland stood strong and clinched the game on a late interception by Dylan Bolduc.
“Coach (Jim Hartman) led us up to the game telling us (Oxford Hills) was a big, physical team,” Esposito said. “We were just a little bit better and we were able to pull away with it.”
“It was a tough game,” Hartman said. “Oxford Hills is a good team. They played hard and didn’t quit. Our mistakes kept them in it, but I’m proud of how our kids stuck with it.
The Bulldogs (3-2 and fourth in Eastern A) plays at 5-0 Windham Saturday (kickoff time has been changed to 1 p.m.). Last year, Portland beat the visiting Eagles, 57-14, but this time around, the challenge will be much greater.
“We have a tough game in front of us,” Hartman said. “Windham’s coaches have done a good job and their kids are excited, but we won’t back off. We have to be patient. We need to maintain field position and we can’t make mistakes. We want to improving.”
Sun Journal staff writers Tony Blasi and Kalle Oakes contributed to this story.