WINDHAM — As momentum shifted, so did fortune in Lewiston’s 20-14 loss to Windham in a showdown of the two highest ranked football teams in Class A North.
The ball bounced the Blue Devils’ way — one time, literally — in the first half, after which they led 14-0, but it skipped away from them after halftime.
“I think we were due,” Windham coach Matt Perkins said with a laugh.
Windham had the ball first, and on its third play, Lewiston’s Garrett Poussard hit quarterback Tanner Bernier, uncorking the ball. Keegan Voss recovered the fumble at the Eagles’ 28-yard line.
Seven plays later, on fourth-and-goal from the 5, Blue Devils quarterback Tanner Cortes threw to the front corner of the end zone right to Windham’s Nazari Henderson. But the ball bounced off his hands and into Hunter Landry’s for a touchdown. A two-point conversion throw from Cortes to Brock Belanger made it 8-0 for the Blue Devils.
Later in the first quarter, Lewiston’s Jeremy Madore intercepted Bernier. In the second quarter, Sean O’Donnell picked off another pass.
Less than two minutes before halftime, Lewiston punted the ball down to the Windham 22. Then, on the ensuing play, Belanger recovered a fumble, setting up the Blue Devils 13 yards from the end zone.
A third-and-long turned into a third-and-1 thanks to an unsportsmanlike penalty. Lewiston converted, and then Poussard scored on a 1-yard run.
Despite having two punts blocked and picking up only four first downs, the Blue Devils went into halftime with a 14-0 lead.
“We made a lot of mistakes,” Perkins said. “To their credit, they capitalized, they’ve come a long way, their program.”
Windham also was held to four first downs in the first half. They matched that on their first drive of the second half, which ended with 1-yard touchdown run by Grant Jacobson. That cut Lewiston’s lead to 14-6.
On their next drive, the Eagles went 86 yards on 17 plays, capped by Bernier’s 9-yard touchdown run in the fourth quarter. He then tied the game at 14-14 on a two-point conversation throw to Henderson.
That drive seemed stopped after three plays at the Windham 18. But the Eagles received new life when Lewiston was called for roughing the kicker on what was almost a blocked punt.
“I don’t know if it was a penalty or not, you know,” Lewiston coach Bruce Nicholas said.
A few minutes later, Lewiston was forced to punt again, this time from its own 18. Jacobson broke through and blocked the punt, and the ball was recovered by Windham’s Justin Labrecque in the end zone, putting the Eagles up 20-14 with 5:06 to play in the game.
“I just saw (Jacobson) block it, I was right there, tried to get on it,” Labrecque said. “I was pretty happy I got on it. Didn’t want somebody else to grab it.”
Perkins said the three block punts were the result of something Windham’s coaches noticed on film.
“We haven’t had punts blocked for a long time, they were just getting through,” Nicholas said. “So we’re going to have to look at film and see what the heck was going on there, and fix that.”
The Blue Devils finally gained their first first down of the second half on a fake punt by Cortes, but that drive stalled at Windham’s 42 with less than three minutes to play.
Lewiston was unable to get the ball back and received another bad break in the final minute when Cortes was ejected for a tackle that the officials deemed uncouth. That leaves the Blue Devils without their starting quarterback next week against Bangor.
Friday’s loss ends an undefeated start to Lewiston’s season, but Nicholas noted that on the same field last year the Blue Devils lost 41-8. This time, they went toe-to-toe with one of A North’s traditional powers.
“We’ve had a tough schedule and a tough road,” Nicholas said, “but we’re learning from it, this is a bump in that road, but we got to just keep going on.”