AUBURN — Deering cornerback Ben Williams didn’t have the best of games last week and, as coach Matt Riddell said, he didn’t take it well.
Williams took his frustrations out on Edward Little on Friday, picking off Red Eddies quarterback Matt Verrill twice in the Rams’ 32-12 victory at Walton Field. The win sends Deering (4-3) into the postseason, while Edward Little’s hopes of grabbing a playoff spot were dashed.
Williams’ 53-yard interception return for a touchdown took the wind out of Edward Little’s sails early in the second half when it looked like the Red Eddies were establishing momentum for the first time all game. With the Rams leading 12-6, Williams stepped in front of an Edward Little receiver and raced 53 yards untouched down the far sideline and into the end zone.
“I came up when my team needed me,” Williams said. “I forgot about last week. I put my time in at practice and just worked hard. They were running the same play over and over again, so I just took a gamble on it and I was like ‘I might as well,’ and it fell right into my hands.”
The 6-foot junior hauled in his second interception on Edward Little’s ensuing drive and returned it to the Red Eddies’ 22 with four seconds remaining in the third quarter. Deering quarterback Max Chabot hit Jacob Coon for a 22-yard touchdown on the next play to give the Rams a 25-6 lead after three quarters.
“Ben had a rough week last week and he didn’t take it very well,” Riddell said. “He came out on fire tonight. He made a bunch of nice big hits, two picks. That was huge. I think that was the nail in the coffin.”
Deering’s defense bent on several occasions but didn’t break. Edward Little (1-6) moved the ball into the red zone four times, but the Rams’ defense allowed just six points on those four trips. Deering recovered a fumble at the 15-yard line on Edward Little’s opening drive and stopped the Red Eddies on downs twice. Outside the red zone, the Rams picked off Verrill three times.
“Coach (Rob) Susi has done an amazing job preparing this defense every week and it seems like every time our back is to the wall, he calls the right defense in the right spot and we make the stop,” Riddell said.
Offensively, the Rams were clicking. Chabot threw the ball 28 times, completing 17 for 264 yards, tossing three touchdowns and two interceptions. Chabot’s go-to target, Coon, caught six passes for 128 yards and two touchdowns. Six different receivers caught at least one pass.
“It’s the same with all of my receivers,” Chabot said. “We’re all really good friends and they’re all really good, which doesn’t hurt. They all run very crisp routes, especially Jacob on the seam route. It’s really a joy throwing to those guys.”
Chabot opened the scoring with a 37-yard touchdown pass to Coon with 8:09 left in the first and capped Deering’s night by hitting Dom Bernard for a 62-yard touchdown with 4:50 remaining.
The only thing stopping Deering was itself. The Rams were whistled for 14 penalties, 11 of which were accepted for 90 yards.
Verrill, playing in his second game since returning from an injury sustained in the season opener, finished 16-for-34 for 134 yards and a touchdown pass to Charles Cedre in the third quarter.
Edward Little’s Hunter Martin led all rushers with 103 yards on seven carries, most of which came on a 64-yard touchdown run with 4:32 remaining in the game.
With the playoffs an afterthought now for the Red Eddies, their focus shifts to rival Lewiston next week and ending the season on a high note.
“It’s a hard game,” Edward Little coach Dave Sterling said. “You try to play as best you can and sometimes it breaks your way and sometimes it doesn’t. We’ve got the biggest game of our season next week. We knew that even coming into this game. Lewiston is our focus from the beginning of the season. We’re looking forward to the opportunity we have coming ahead of us.”