The Red Eddies surrendered a pair of fourth-down conversions, allowed two long touchdown runs and gave up 246 yards on the ground in a 22-0 loss at Walton Field. 

Edward Little’s defense was a vast improvement over the squad that surrendered 48 points to Bangor and 45 to Windham earlier this season. Yet Edward Little coach Dave Sterling believes the result could have been different had it not been for those big plays. 

“We played very well,” Sterling said. “We gave up a couple big plays in crucial situations on a couple fourth downs when we had them pinned pretty deep. We correct those plays and it’s a much different game.” 

Portland’s first big play was nullified by a holding penalty. Joseph Esposito ran 43 yards into the end zone for what would have been the first touchdown of the game, but it was called back on one of Portland’s nine penalties. The Bulldogs (2-1) still punched it into the end zone later in the drive as quarterback Ryan Ruhlin kept it himself for a 19-yard run with 2:59 left in the first. 

The Bulldogs extended their lead to 14-0 mid way through the second quarter on a 48-yard touchdown run by George Chaison-Lapine. Portland’s drive continued after Ruhlin connected with Jordan Floridino on fourth down in its own territory. 

Chaison-Lapine scored his second touchdown of the night with 7:58 remaining in the third, a 9-yard run with to make it 20-0. The junior running back finished with 88 yards on 13 carries. 

“We lost a lot of good running backs last year,” Chaison-Lapine said. “I’m just trying to come in here and fill in those spots. We’re making progress. It’s all about getting better.” 

Esposito led Portland’s running game with 102 yards on 19 carries. 

“Our line is incredible,” Chaison-Lapine said. “We have a lot of all-state potential. With that performance I couldn’t have asked for anything better.”

The Red Eddies (0-3) couldn’t stop Portland’s run game. The Bulldogs carried the ball 48 times, going almost exclusively to the ground in the second half and throwing just two passes. One fell incomplete and the other was picked off by Edward Little’s Corey Gillespie. 

“We don’t pass a lot,” Portland coach Jim Hartman said. “We want to stuff it down your throat.”

For the third straight game, Edward Little had limited offensive production. With freshman Grant Hartley under center — filling in for the injured Matthew Verrill — the Red Eddies mustered 126 yards of total offense. Hartley finished 4-for-13 for 27 yards and an interception. 

“He’s been in the system,” Sterling said. “He understands what we’re trying to accomplish. He’s a good kid. He’s got a strong arm. We’ll work with him to get better.”

The majority of Edward Little’s offense came from the legs of running back Hunter Martin, who carried the ball 20 times for 99 yards. He also had a pick on defense — one of three takeaways by the Red Eddies. 

Portland’s defense put points on the board, too. The Bulldogs tackled Martin in his own end zone for a safety, pushing Portland’s lead to 22-0 with less than a minute remaining in the third. 

“The defense was superb,” Hartman said. “Defense did everything right. They played their hearts out.” 

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