SKOWHEGAN — Edward Little has been in mountain climbing mode for the last four weeks, beating a series of second-tier opponents to put themselves in position for a Pine Tree Conference playoff berth.
Don't let the competition or the shortage of hype fool you. The Red Eddies proved Friday night that they're closer to the summit than everyone thinks, and deserving of a place in the conversation about the best football teams in Eastern Class A.
EL thoroughly dominated Skowhegan, 42-0, at Reggie Clark Memorial Field, flexing its muscles on both sides of the line of scrimmage.
Big plays fueled the offense all night.
Teven Colon rushed for a career-high 223 yards on only 11 carries, including touchdown runs of 50 and 48 yards. A Skowhegan tackler needed the help of Colon's facemask to stop another 64-yard gallop just shy of the goal line.
"The blocking was great," Colon said. "I was able to make a lot of open field cuts."
And the defense worked feverishly to protect the shutout, producing a goal-line stand at the end of each half.
Colon and Luke Farrago combined to tackle Kaleb Austin one chain-link shy of the first down at the EL 3-yard line with a minute remaining in the second quarter. At the time, the Red Eddies (3-3) nursed a 14-0 lead.
Skowhegan drove inside the 5 against the Eddies' second unit late in the game, but Evan Hazelton's sack knocked the Indians (1-5) out of scoring range.
Two subsequent Ben Clark passes fell incomplete. EL took over and ran out the clock.
"It took everybody," said Dylan Deconzo. "Everybody was making plays, getting a stick. Our confidence keeps going up every week."
Deconzo also had a 9-yard touchdown run for EL, the first of three Eddies scores in the third quarter.
Quarterback Josh Delong scored from 34 yards out in the opening period. Later, he finished the job begun by Colon's longest run of the night with a 3-yard TD rush.
EL accumulated all of its 389 yards on the ground.
The Eddies forced five turnovers, all in the second half. Colon, Deconzo and Alphonso Belnavis each had an interception.
Avery Jackson scooped up a fumble at the EL-32 after a Cory Spruill quarterback sack and finished nine yards shy of a lineman's dream before Skowhegan brought him down early in the second half.
Deconzo scored untouched on the next play.
Ben Bellevue also recovered a fumble to set up a long scoring march, capped by Darnell Hairston's 9-yard run.
"I wasn't as happy (with the zero on the scoreboard) as I was to see the way these guys played as a team," said EL coach Dave Sterling. "We've had our moments this year where the other team has capitalized on our mistakes. We responded as a unit tonight."
EL stopped two other Skowhegan drives in Red Eddies' territory in the second quarter prior to the Indians' biggest threat of the night.
Clipping and pass interference penalties gave Skowhegan most of its yardage on the final series of the half.
But the Eddies forced an incomplete pass on first-and-10 from the 13 and kept Austin under wraps after that. Ryan Farrissey, Steven Bangs and Farrago each had a hand in wrapping up the senior captain on second and third down.
Austin led the Indians with 23 carries for 95 yards.
After a season-and-a-half of looking for a win, any win, EL can count this particular business trip as a signature victory.
"I have a lot of friends over at Lewiston, and they were saying, 'Oh, you guys will win by two touchdowns.' This is a big statement for us," Colon said. "We're going full throttle the rest of the way."