LISBON — Everyone else at Thompson Field saw a football lying on the turf.

To Lisbon linebacker Mike McNamara, it was an entire high school football career worth of frustration against Winthrop flashing before his eyes.

“They beat us three years in a row. Knocked us out of the playoffs twice,” McNamara said.

Not this time. Not after McNamara, a senior captain listed charitably at 5-foot-7 and 140 pounds, covered a Ramblers fumble at the Winthrop 7-yard line with 4:40 remaining in regulation Saturday.

That repossession led to quarterback Luke Caron’s second short touchdown run of the day. Caron’s two-point conversion pass to Tobey Harrington and two more defensive stands sealed a 14-6 victory.

What has evolved into the two schools’ traditional season-ending rivalry was a battle for the No. 2 seed in the Western Class C playoffs, which begin next weekend.


Lisbon (7-1) will host No. 7 Jay in the quarterfinals. No. 3 Winthrop (6-2) dropped its second straight game and draws Dirigo.

“It means a lot more than that,” said Lisbon coach Dick Mynahan. “After they knocked us out of the playoffs last year, we didn’t want to come out here and lose a game by two points. It makes the kids feel a lot better about things.”

Winthrop held Lisbon without a first down through four second-half series before taking over at its own 16 after a McNamara pooch punt.

The Ramblers, who scored their only touchdown on an 85-yard bomb from Travis Luce to Joey Brennan at nearly the same line of scrimmage in the first half, went to their wildcat formation.

Nick Dingley knocked Derek Pamphrey for a two-yard loss on first down. Ryan Conant took the direct snap on the next play and ran an option to the right.

Conant pitched to Pamphrey, but the senior running backs — who usually alternate carries behind Luce — couldn’t make the connection.


And that’s when McNamara’s eyes grew larger than the fumbled prize itself.

“I thought for a minute about picking it up and running with it, but that wasn’t happening today. We needed the ball, and if we couldn’t pick up eight yards on offense, we didn’t deserve to win,” McNamara said. “I just fell on it and squeezed with my life.”

Harrington (21 carries, 80 yards) churned out matching 3-yard gains on two ensuing carries to set up Caron’s quarterback sneak.

“That (fumble) probably doesn’t mean as much if we give it to them on the 50 or inside,” said Winthrop coach Joel Stoneton. “It gave them momentum. It was a game where somebody was waiting for a mistake, and we gave it to them.”

Dingley and Arias combined to sack Luce on fourth down and stop the Ramblers’ next series.

Lisbon had a chance to run out the clock after a third-down conversion by Caron. But judicious use of its timeouts and a fourth-down stop by Travis Sherman gave Winthrop a prayer from its own 27 with 1.5 seconds to go.


Luce fired a quick strike to Brennan, who lateraled to Conant. But a second backward toss forced Brennan to one knee and ended the game.

“Winthrop has been a great team all year. They’ve scored a lot of points on everybody, almost all their games,” McNamara said. “To come out and beat them feels remarkable.”

McNamara supplemented his fumble recovery and special teams work with 14 tackles.

Not bad for his first game since suffering a concussion in the Greyhounds’ lone loss to Yarmouth three weeks ago.

“I was really, really nervous, like puking before the game,” he said. “I hadn’t been in there. I didn’t know how I was going to come out and play. I knew we had subs who could go in there and do it if I couldn’t.”

“Mike is our defensive captain,” Mynahan said. “There’s no question that we count on him. He does a good job of finding the ball.”


McNamara’s open-field tackle of Conant on a swing pass stopped Winthrop three-and-out on its first series, setting up a short field and a Lisbon touchdown.

Josh Pomerleau’s 14-yard run and a 7-yard pop by Harrington put Caron in position for a 2-yard plunge.

“Any time you get knocked off like we did (last week at Jay), you’re reeling for the first couple plays. We knew as a staff that would happen,” Stoneton said. “Once they figured out where they were, I thought except for a couple mistakes we played pretty good ball.”

Caron’s score was the extent of the first-half offense on both sides until Winthrop took one final gamble skyward with the wind at its back.

Luce located Brennan in mid-stride behind the Lisbon secondary for the 85-yard score. Luce’s point-after kick narrowly missed wide right, leaving it 6-6 at halftime.

Winthrop never again crossed midfield, held in check by Arias, Dingley, McNamara, Matt Nicholson and the Lisbon defense.

Conant finished with 20 carries for 78 yards for Winthrop, which outgained Lisbon by a narrow 224-203 margin.

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