Hunter Landry (21) of Lewiston High School hauls in an interception in the end zone in front of South portland’s Anthony Poole (2) during their game at Bates College in Lewiston on Friday. Looking on are Lewiston’s Sean O’Donnell (17) and Tanner Cortes (12).
LEWISTON — Hunter Landry was a highlight machine in Lewiston’s 34-21 win over South Portland in Class A football Friday night at Garcelon Field.
“Who knew? I knew he was a great football player, but I was like, ‘Whoa,’” Lewiston senior Garrett Poussard said.
Landry scored three touchdowns — on a 17-yard pass, a 71-yard run and a 50-yard interception return. That interception return was one of three picks by the junior in the season-opener; the two others were hauled in at the goal line.
“My favorite thing that we did today? We won. That was the best thing about it,” Landry said. “It doesn’t really matter what I did, as long as we got that dub, that’s all the freakin’ matters.”
Landry started the game with a 32-yard kickoff return to the Lewiston 47-yard line. From there, the Blue Devils imposed their will by handing off to either Poussard or Landry on al 10 plays of the drive. Poussard finished the pounding with a 2-yard score for a 6-0 lead.
“That was huge, I think, early in the game, moving the football, eating up some clock, getting the lead,” Lewiston coach Bruce Nicholas said.
South Portland responded in kind, with heavy doses of runs by Spencer Houlette and quarterback Jake Poole. That advanced the Red Riots to the Lewiston 1-yard line
Then, Houlette fumbled, and Lewiston’s Conner Kaplinger recovered.
Lewiston quarterback Tanner Cortes pitched the ball past Landry and out of the back of the end zone for a safety that made it 6-2.
South Portland again drove into Lewiston territory, getting as far as the 21. But Landry intercepted Poole’s pass at the goal line.
Runs by Poussard and Landry moved the Blue Devils down inside the Red Riots’ 10, but after a penalty it looked like the possession might stall at the 17. A third-down pass by Cortes to Landry looked like it was going to be stuffed, but Landry made one tackler miss, then sidestepped a few others and ended up in the end zone. A run on the two-point conversion by Brock Belanger made it 14-2.
On the next play from scrimmage, Lewiston defensive lineman Tom Brochu forced a fumble, picked it up and returned in 27 yards for a touchdown.
Going into halftime, the Blue Devils held a 20-2 lead.
On the Red Riots’ first drive after the break, Landry picked off a pass at the 50-yard line and ran it up the sideline to make it 28-2.
“Hunter could have intercepted a hundred passes today if they threw them over there,” Nicholas said. “He had a great summer picking the ball off, and I said, ‘You’re going to pick one off and go all the way.’ I didn’t think it’d be in the first game.”
South Portland’s next drive when to the Lewiston 26-yard line, but Landry again intercepted a pass at the goal line.
“Coaches have done a great job. Those picks weren’t me, those picks were the coverages, those picks were people going places that they were supposed to be,” Landry said. “That was coaching, that was us knowing our responsibilities and that was us wanting to win.”
On the second play of the fourth quarter, Landry appeared to be on the verge of being stopped behind the line of scrimmage. But, no. Instead, he ran 71 yards into the end zone, making 34-9.
Poussard finished with 106 yards on 24 carries, and Landry ran 10 times for 122 yards.
“We just pounded it down their throat,” Poussard said. “(Assistant) coach (Kevin) Collins has been working with the line a lot, they’ve been working hard, and it’s finally paying off.”
South Portland kept coming, despite the deficit. Poole ran in a touchdown and tossed a 37-yard scoring pass to Dylan Coombs to cut a chunk out of the deficit.
“Like I told the kids, when we got out of our way and just lined up and took a breath and ran our offense, we were very, very successful,” South Portland coach Steve Stinson said. “They did a nice job fighting back — it was 44-9 at one point — coming all the way back to 34-21, it was good to see us with some positive things to build on.”
Next up for Lewiston is a road matchup with Oxford Hills.
South Portland’s Spencer Houlette, right, tries to get away from Lewiston’s Sean O’Donnell during their game at Bates College in Lewiston on Friday.Lewiston High School’s Conner Kaplinger (10) dives after a loose ball as South Portland’s Spencer Houlette tries to drop on it at the 1-yard line during their game at Bates College in Lewiston on Friday. Kaplinger came away with the ball.South Portland’sJake Poole (14) tries to break through the tackles of Lewiston High School’s Ben Bosse (16) and Sean O’Donnell (17) during their game at Bates College on Friday.
Lewiston High School’s Garrett Poussard, center, barrels through a pair of South Portland defenders during their game at Bates College in Lewiston on Friday.