AUBURN — Edward Little dropped the ball and lost to Deering 41-28 on Friday at Walton Field.
Three first-quarter fumbles led to 14 Rams points, and that was too much for the Red Eddies to overcome.
“We turned the ball over early,” EL coach Dave Sterling said. “When you turn the ball over like that and get down by 20, and try to get back in the game, it’s very hard to come back.
“That’s the name of the game: the team that has more turnovers usually loses.”
The game started off nicely for Edward Little, which moved the football down the field relatively easily on the game’s first possession. The drive ended when Grant Hartley threw a 24-yard pass to CJ Jipson near the end zone, but the ground knocked the ball out of Jipson’s hands and Deering recovered.
“We had a tough call down here at the start of the game where we thought we had scored, but they called it a fumble in the end zone,” Sterling said.
The Rams’ ensuing drive was finished by Ryan Walsh’s 31-yard touchdown run that made it 7-0.
The Eddies’ second drive ended in a fumble after a big gain by Tyler Blanchard. Edward Little forced a punt, but on its next offensive play, Hartley’s incomplete pass to Blanchard was ruled a backward pass, and the Rams recovered at the EL 21-yard line.
Sterling said that the pass looked like it went forward.
“That was a tough call,” Sterling said, “and the referee, he made his call, but we could see it clearly, and we’ll see it on film, as well.”
Six plays later, Walsh scored from 3 yards out
Deering added another touchdown on a 19-yard pass from Joe Pelletier to Robbie Dacey on fourth down, and the Rams’ lead was up to 20-0.
“You can’t get behind on a team like that that can run the ball successfully,” Sterling said.
EL finally had something go its way late in the first half when Alex Cook blocked a punt and recovered it at Deering’s 7-yard line. Hartley threw a 2-yard touchdown pass to Blanchard and then repeated the action on the two-point conversion to make it 20-8 going into halftime.
Walsh scored the first two touchdowns of the second half, first on a 17-yard fourth-down pass, and then on a 75-yard interception return that made it 33-8.
Walsh carried the load for the Rams, who were without their top offensive threat, Nate Richards, who was injured last week against Oxford Hills/Buckfield. Walsh finished with 179 yards rushing and two scores on 28 carries to go along the receiving and interception return touchdowns.
“We got our best player out, Nate Richards, and we just needed to step up and get it done,” Walsh said. “Honestly, our O-line scored most of those touchdowns. They blocked and I ran behind them. They brought us all the way, they really did.”
Deering coach Jason Jackson said he didn’t know what to expect from the Rams (3-4) after they lost to Oxford Hills/Buckfield 14-0 last week.
“The right kids stepped up,” Jackson said. “Ryan Walsh came out and did what he does; he’s tough, hard-nosed, and that’s exactly what we needed.”
EL touchdown passes by Hartley to Blanchard (42 yards) and CJ Jipson (16 yards) closed the gap to 33-22 early in the fourth quarter.
Then the Eddies recovered a fumble at their own 49. Penalties and a sack derailed that drive and they had to punt the ball away.
Pelletier ran in a touchdown from 11 yards to make it 41-22, and Hartley threw another touchdown to Blanchard for the final score with 1:32 remaining in the game.
Blanchard caught 13 passes for 144 yards and three scores. Jipson had eight receptions for 96 yards and one score, and Maxx Bell had 68 yards on seven catches. Hartley went 28-for-47 and 308 yards.
“We moved the ball extremely well tonight,” Sterling said. “The stat numbers are probably going to be really good for us offensively, but if we don’t possess the football — you know, that’s what causes the problems.”
The Eddies (2-5) finish the regular season at rival Lewiston (2-5) next week.