WINDHAM — Edward Little seemed to have the combination it was looking for in Saturday night’s Eastern Class A quarterfinal — a promising drive led by a poised quarterback who was finding open receivers and catching a young opponent that was frantically trying to find its playoff footing back on its heels.

Then junior quarterback Ian Mileikis went down in a heap in the middle of the field, and the Red Eddies’ momentum collapsed with him.

Mileikis hurt his left leg after an incomplete pass, which he released just as Windham’s Matt Roy hit him. He had to be carried off the field and never returned.

Losing the top rushing quarterback in Eastern A, plus their starting safety, stunned the Red Eddies. No. 3 Windham, meanwhile, shook off some first quarter jitters and scored 27 unanswered points on its way to a convincing 54-14 victory over No. 6 EL.

Liam Sullivan rushed for 184 yards and two touchdowns on 26 carries and Griffin Jacobson added 93 yards and three touchdowns on seven rushes to send the Eagles (5-4) to the semifinals, where they will meet No. 2 Portland.

Johnny Boyd led Edward Little (3-6) with 109 yards rushing, including a 53-yard touchdown in the fourth quarter. Sophomore QB Matt Verrill, pressed into service after Mileikis’ injury, completed 13 of 30 passes for 174 yards, a touchdown and four interceptions.

“When you lose a good player like that, it’s tough to recover,” Edward Little coach Dave Sterling said. “Windham played very well defensively. We couldn’t get outside. They played really well up front.”

Windham, which beat EL, 23-12, during the regular season, fumbled twice and had to jump on a couple of bad snaps in the first seven minutes of the game. The first fumble, recovered by Shammond Thomas, halted a promising drive at EL’s six.

The Eagles shut down Boyd on three runs to force a punt, but the ball went off returner Derek Howard’s helmet and Brandin Knowlton recovered for EL at his own 44.

Mileikis completed passes of 11 yards to Drew Lashua and 20 yards to Hunter Martin to get the Eddies to Windham’s 25. But after Mileikis went to the sideline, Jacobson  snuffed out the drive by sacking Verrill on fourth down.

Sam Pattee recovered EL’s first fumble of the game at the Eddies’ 25 with 4.3 seconds left in the first quarter. On the first play of the second quarter, Jacobson rumbled 25 yards to break the scoreless tie.

“We had some mistakes early on and did a couple of little things and seemed to fix it,” Windham coach Matt Perkins said.

The Eddies went three-and-out on their next two series, opening the door for the Eagles to pull away, with Sullivan doing the bulk of the work. The senior had multiple running lanes to choose from any time he went outside.

“Our offensive line has speed and they do put in the work in the weight room,” Sullivan said. “They may be small, but they’re strong.”

“They have very good edge blockers,” Sterling said. “We tried to simulate  it in practice. We ran a six-man front in the second half to try to get some pressure on it, but it just didn’t work out.”

Sullivan’s 12-yard touchdown run made it 13-0. On Windham’s next drive, he had runs of 10, 16, 13 and nine yards to set up Jacobson’s 1-yard TD plunge that gave the Eagles a 20-0 lead they took into halftime.

“We really picked up well on their guys coming over the top,” Perkins said. “Our guys did a real good job squaring them up and giving Liam two lanes to go and creating a funnel for him to run downhill. He has great vision.”

Eric Webb returned the second half kickoff 67 yards to the EL 3 to set up Sullivan’s second touchdown. EL got on the board on Verrill’s 34-yard touchdown pass to Hunter Martin, but Windham answered by exploiting a breakdown in the Eddies’ secondary for a 30-yard touchdown pass from Tyler Johnson to Kyle Kilfoil to make it 34-6.

Jacobson added a 21-yard touchdown run and Webb a 65-yard interception return for a touchdown to widen the lead to 48-6.


Only subscribers are eligible to post comments. Please subscribe or to participate in the conversation. Here’s why.

Use the form below to reset your password. When you've submitted your account email, we will send an email with a reset code.