AUBURN — Lewiston’s Quintarian Brown was ripping through game jersey’s in the first half Friday night like he was tearing through the Edward Little defense.

The junior back wore three different numbers and changed his jersey twice as he helped rush Lewiston out to a seemingly comfortable three touchdown lead.

It was a hip strain that ultimately slowed Brown down in the second half. The Red Eddies took advantage and rallied late. EL’s hopes for a game-tying drive in the final minutes came up short, and Lewiston finally finished off a 34-26 win at Walton Field.

“I told the kids there was no question that they were going to come back,” Lewiston coach Bill County said. “It’s that kind of game and that kind of tradition.”

Lewiston built a 32-12 lead at halftime but couldn’t keep the offense chugging away like it did the first half, totalling 304 yards. Brown had a pair of touchdowns and quarterback Eddie Emerson threw for a pair in building the early lead.

“We threw the ball extremely well in the first half,” County said. “In the second half, you’re up by three touchdowns and you want to milk the clock a little bit. So we were kind of caught in a difficult position there.”

EL kept close and scored a pair in the final quarter to get within a touchdown. The Red Eddies then got a chance with a potential tying drive with four-plus minutes left. Johnny Boyd intercepted a pass at the 2, but EL’s hope for an equalizer ended just over midfield.

“It just wasn’t enough,” said EL coach Dave Sterling. “We’ve got more to do to get ready for next week. They ran the ball extremely well the first half. Quintarian Brown is an amazing athlete. We’d have him wrapped up and he’d break free. It takes a whole team to stop a good athlete like that.”

EL will play at Windham when the postseason begin next Friday. Lewiston will play at Bangor next Saturday afternoon.

Lewiston scored on its first possession when Brown finished off a drive with a run from the 9 with 8:20 left in the quarter. He finished with 139 yards on 15 carries, despite not playing much in the second half.

After an EL punt, Lewiston’s offense kept moving. Emerson hit Ace Curry on a 13-yard pass for a 12-0 lead with 5:16 left. EL answered that quickly with an 87-yard kick-off return by Jeff Clark, but Lewiston couldn’t be stopped. Brown broke it 42 yards on the next play to make it 19-6 with 4:32 left in the first quarter.

“The linemen came out and did what they had to do,” said Brown. “They made some big holes. Our fullback Stone Colby, he’s a big guy and he made some big holes on those blocks.”

Lewiston made it 26-6 early in the second quarter when Emerson hooked up with Ben Howell on a 7-yard pass play.

“Eddie’s a great quarterback,” Brown said. “He gets the ball out really quick. Those slats and outs were just breaking things open.”

EL got one back when quarterback Ian Mileikis rushed in from the 36 with 9:28 left in the half, but Lewiston continued to score. After an interception by Stefan Porter at midfield, the Blue Devils turned that into a 1-yard plunge by Colby, who finished with 116 yards on 16 carries. That made it 32-12 at the half.

“I felt pretty good the way we were going offensively,” County said.

Lewiston added to the lead in the third when Nick Perrault tackled Mileikis in the end zone for a safety. That made it 34-20 with 8:17 left in the third.

 Lewiston was able to move the ball in the second half but had one score taken away by a penalty and had another chance nixed by the Boyd interception.

“I thought offensively we didn’t play poorly in the second half but Brown got a hip strain and just to be safe, we kept him out,” County said. “We went to our power game, which ran pretty well, but we just got into trouble with the yellow flag. We kept shooting ourselves in the foot. Every time we had a drive, something would set us back penalty-wise.”

Lewiston had 100 yards in penalties and aided EL’s comeback with some personal fouls late in the game. Mileikis finished with 110 yards on 20 carries.

EL made it 34-20 early in the fourth when Mileikis hit Cameron Cormier on a 13-yard pass play. Then after forcing Lewiston to punt, EL produced another scoring drive. Mileikis capped it off with a one-yard plunge with 6:58 left. EL missed kick but were still within 34-26.

When EL forced the turnover with 4:30 left, the Red Eddies had the chance to tie.  it. Mileikis had a pair of runs that got EL on the move. He left the game for a play after getting banged up. Matt Verill came in at quarterback and kept EL moving. He had three straight plays for positive yardage and got EL as close as the 31.

A motion penalty, a rush for no gain and an inability to find open receivers downfield stalled the drive in the final minute.

“We thought we had a couple good plays lined up,” Sterling said. “They just didn’t work right. It was good to see our offensive move when it needed to move the ball and get ourselves back in position to score and possibly tie it up. Our guys will build from this.”

Lewiston had allowed just 52 total yards in the first half and three first downs. Though the Blue Devils gave up over 200 yards in the second half, they made the stop when it mattered most.

“One of the things we figured out on the last few plays is that our defensive end just strung the play out instead of coming up field,” County said. “They quarterback turned the corner, he had to deal with him. I think that helped us tremendously.”

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