H.S. football: Blue Devils blitz Vikings

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Lewiston quarterback Tanner Cortes eludes Oxford Hills Parker Lafrance in the waning minutes of the frist half. Cortes scored on the play.
Lewiston quarterback Tanner Cortes eludes Oxford Hills Parker Lafrance in the waning minutes of the frist half. Cortes scored on the play.

PARIS — Determined to not allow Oxford Hills to run downhill as it did last week in a win over Portland, Lewiston sent a lot of defenders charging up the hill Friday night.

As a result, the Vikings could never get the running game that piled up 285 yards the previous week in gear, and the Blue Devils left Don Gouin Complex with their biggest win in a long time.

Tanner Cortes rushed for the game’s lone touchdown on the final play of the first half, and Dominick Colon added a sack for a safety late as Lewiston improved to 2-0 with a 10-0 win.

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“It’s a great feeling,” Cortes said. “You know, this program has been down for a little bit and it’s nice to start to see it turning around a little bit. The guys are in a good state of mind and we’re ready for the rest of the season. Let’s keep it rolling.”

Lewiston held Oxford Hills (1-1) to 96 net yards on 34 rushing attempts. It limited Dawson Stevens, who had 193 yards and two touchdowns last week, to 63 yards on 17 carries.

“We did a nice job with No. 8 (Stevens),” Lewiston coach Bruce Nicholas said. “He’s a good running back and we knew we had to tackle him and we did. I think it forced them to try something else, which is what we were hoping to do.”

“I think it was all Coach (Spencer) Emerson and his scheme,” senior defensive tackle Keegan Voss said. “We had a bunch of different defenses going on. Whatever they came out in, we adjusted and stopped them.”

Blitzing frequently, the Blue Devils got defenders into the backfield all night. Defensive linemen such as Voss (who had a sack), Isaiah Teague, Sean Lake and Tom Brochu cleared alleys for linebackers such as Colon, Sean O’Donnell and Jeremy Madore to stop the backs before they could get upfield.

“That was part of our gameplan is not let them get downhill,” Nicholas said. “We got some penetration. Our linebackers — Sean O’Donnell from the outside making them cut and not run downhill.”

“They were aggressive,” Oxford Hills coach Mark Soehren said. “They blitzed and we couldn’t pick it up. They made the line of scrimmage one yard deep in our backfield.”

The Vikings also hurt their own chances to sustain any momentum with penalties (nine for 75 yards), many of them illegal formation or false start flags. They also fumbled five times, losing two, and threw an interception.

“Tons of unforced errors,” Soehren said. “It would have been interesting to see if we could play on the other side of the 50 without the unforced errors. Their defense did do a great job, but we just couldn’t get out of our own way, too.”

A bobbled handoff exchange on a fourth-and-1 by the Vikings near midfield shifted field position in the Blue Devils’ favor late in the first half. They weren’t able to take immediate advantage. But they were able to pin Oxford Hills deep in their own territory with a punt and the defense forced the Vikings to punt it right back with 21.6 seconds left.

Stevens’ punt went off the side of his foot and out of bounds, netting only 11 yards and giving the Devils their best starting field position of the half, Oxford Hills’ 30.

On second down, the Vikings were flagged for pass interference, giving the Devils a first down at the 15. Cortes then completed a pass over the middle to Lucas Nichols to the Vikings 6, and Lewiston quickly called a time out with 3.3 seconds to go.

With time for one play, Cortes faked a pitch to Garrett Poussard, then sprinted through a wide-open hole up the middle to the goal line, where Oxford Hills’ Tasker Winslow was waiting for him. As the halftime horn sounded, Cortes lowered his shoulder and ran through the first and last Viking in his way.

“It was an option play and the defensive end went for (Poussard). That’s the read on that play,” Cortes said. “I saw green grass and I just went for it. When you see someone waiting for you at the goal line, there ain’t no way you’re letting them stop you.”

“We adjusted our formation and put Garrett on the left,” Nicholas said. “I said, ‘We’re going to run speed option away from our formation and Tanner, if you can keep it and go, you go.’ He is a tough kid.”

Lewiston faked the extra point kick and Hunter Landry passed to Jason Willis for the two-point conversion for an 8-0 halftime lead.

Oxford Hills started its first offensive series of the second half at the Lewiston 49, but Conner Kaplinger picked off Colton Carson on first down. 

The Vikings never got across midfield again. The Blue Devils burned 3:33 off the clock on their final possession and turned the ball back over to the Vikings at their own 4 with just 21 seconds to go. After two incompletions, Colon tackled Carson in the end zone for the safety.

Oxford Hills’ Dawson Stevens is tripped up at line of scrimmage by Lewiston’s Sean O’Donnell.
Oxford Hills’ Dawson Stevens is tripped up at line of scrimmage by Lewiston’s Sean O’Donnell.
After making a first-down catch, Oxford Hills’ Cam Slicer it is tackled by Lewiston’s Sean O’Donnell.
After making a first-down catch, Oxford Hills’ Cam Slicer it is tackled by Lewiston’s Sean O’Donnell.
Oxford Hills’ Cam Slicer knocks away an attempted pass to Lewiston’s Jason Willis. Slicer was called for interference on the play.
Oxford Hills’ Cam Slicer knocks away an attempted pass to Lewiston’s Jason Willis. Slicer was called for interference on the play.
Lewiston quarterback Tanner Cortes looks for an opening in the final seconds of the first half. Cortes scored in the play.
Lewiston quarterback Tanner Cortes looks for an opening in the final seconds of the first half. Cortes scored in the play.
Lewiston wide receiver Jason Willis attempts to allude the tackle of Oxford Hills’ Jordan Silver after making a reception.
Lewiston wide receiver Jason Willis attempts to allude the tackle of Oxford Hills’ Jordan Silver after making a reception.

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