DIXFIELD – It has required time, but Winthrop football coach Joel Stoneton told his team it finally put things together under pressure Saturday at Harlow Park.

Jake Steele scored a three-yard touchdown in the third quarter and the defense rose to the occasion as Winthrop came from behind for a 12-6 win against Dirigo in a Class C Campbell Conference contest.

Winthrop (2-3) came up with the big plays when it needed to and made the most of its opportunities. A fumble recovery led to the eventual winning drive and the elusive Steele found an opening into the end zone.

Dirigo (2-3) opened the second half with ball, but was unable to move it forward. Winthrop started on the Cougar 33-yard line and took five plays to set-up first and goal on the six. Two plays later, Steele (86 yards, 29 rushes) burst in for the TD.

“On the play, I looked for the hole,” Steele said. “It wasn’t there, so I bounced outside. We used the momentum from the turnover and kept the drive alive. The team really performed well and stepped it up on defense.”

Dirigo had two possessions in the final minutes of the fourth quarter, but quarterback Dakota Holmquist (4 of 11 for 27 yards, interception) was constantly hurried and was unable to shake free. Spencer Berry was under center with 55 seconds left, but he overthrew Enrico Ross. The Ramblers’ Jacob Wilbert recovered a fumble on fourth down..

“We shot ourselves in the foot,”Dirigo coach Doug Gilbert said. “The receivers were open, but we couldn’t get the ball to them. Plus, too many mental mistakes cost us in certain situations.”

Dirigo gained 155 rushing yards, including 77 by Josh Daley and Kevin O’Leary. Still, the lack of holes was a problem as Winthrop linebackers David Ketchen, Ray Link and Steele filled the gaps.

Each team was unable to sustain a lengthy drive on its first four possessions.

“We were outplayed in the first quarter,” Stoneton said. “Dirigo is very physical and we are more (finesse) so we didn’t match up. Then Jake took over with his shifty moves. Even I don’t where he’s going at times.”

Dirigo had drawn first blood when Daley used a second effort for a seven-yard TD run with 1:34 left in the second quarter. During the seven-play, 40-yard drive, Berry caught an 11-yard pass and on fourth down and the Ramblers drew a facemask penalty.

Jason Raymond 32-yard kickoff return to the Cougars’ 47 gave Winthrop a chance to open-up its offense. QB Kyle Plossay (8 of 15 for 65 yards) rolled right and passed to Kris Cooper for a 27-yard catch and run for a touchdown. The Cougar defender had taken the wrong angle and Cooper drifted behind the coverage.

“This is a big win for us,”Stoneton said. “Dirigo is a good team and we had played well against Old Orchard Beach and Jay, but came up short. We needed this win because we finish up against two tough teams.”

Dirigo was 1-for-10 on third down conversions.

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