LIVERMORE FALLS — It was like the moment in the action movie when the cop and his understudy make eye contact because they both notice the smoking-gun clue at the same time.
Backed almost to their own goal line and facing third-and-long, Spruce Mountain coach Walter Polky and quarterback Peter Theriault distracted Cape Elizabeth by sending a trips formation — three wide receivers — toward the visiting sideline.
Lo and behold, standing alone and staring down man-on-man coverage across the field, was Deonte Ring. If Ring isn't the fastest guy with the best hands among the Phoenix, he's a close second. Polky gave his signal-caller a not-so-subtle wave, and the highlight film was on.
"That's a play we practice all week," Polky said. "It's an 'automatic.' It's just a read. Thank God Peter saw me waving. Deonte made a great play."
Ring caught Theriault's tight spiral in mid-stride and went 90 yards for a touchdown that sent Spruce Mountain on its way to an impressive 36-14 Western Class C football victory Friday night at Griffin Field.
Theriault and Spruce's other notorious junior speedster, Matt Vigue, added short touchdown runs to give the Phoenix a 22-0 second-quarter lead.
It was 28-7 at the half before Spruce Mountain (3-1) withstood a spirited rally by Cape Elizabeth (2-2), then put it away with Vigue's 44-yard scoring jaunt.
"Every game is a statement game," said Theriault, who completed 6-of-12 passes for 147 yards.
Vigue (20 carries, 127 yards) and Theriault (19 for 105) each topped the century mark and scored twice, and the emergence of a healthy Alwayne Uter (10 for 56) at fullback made the Phoenix's triple option triply dangerous.
Ring also intercepted Noah Wolfinger on Cape's first play after his big catch-and-run to set up Spruce Mountain's second score.
"We worked hard. We did our jobs," said Tristan Castonguay, the lone senior starter on Spruce Mountain's offensive line. "Once we all come together, nothing goes past us."
Castonguay made two stops and Dalton Autrey another to help Spruce deny Cape's impressive opening drive at the 5-yard line prior to Theriault and Ring's connection.
The rest of the game was similarly demanding. One week after its own signature win over Wells, Cape Elizabeth made Spruce Mountain work for what is arguably the biggest win in the program's short history.
Christian Lavallee (15 carries, 113 yards) had touchdowns runs of 2 and 42 yards for the Capers. His first score put Cape Elizabeth on the board with 2:30 left in the first half.
"We gave up a dumb touchdown at the end of the half. That was bad," Theriault said. "Then we started hitting low again and making the routine play."
Fueled by Vigue's 35-yard kick return, the Phoenix needed only five plays to answer, capped by Theriault runs of 16 and 19 yards, the latter into the end zone.
But Cape hung around after the break. Tucked between two three-and-outs by the defense, Lavallee's long score made it a two-touchdown game with 7:55 left in the third.
Twice in the fourth quarter Cape had apparent first downs in fourth-and-short situations nullified by penalties, first for an illegal formation and then for a lineman aiding the runner.
Vigue and Corey Ridley combined to tie up Wolfinger for a loss after the latter penalty. Then after Spruce Mountain lost and recovered two botched exchanges, Vigue went nine yards before taking it to the house on fourth-and-inches with 3:35 to go.
"They came out and they confused us a little bit," Castonguay said. "We clicked it on and shut them down again."
"They're a great team. That team's not going to roll over. We had to finish," Polky added. "That's the one thing about Peter and Matt and those guys. It's easy to get too high or too low. They bring that calm."