VanDecker scored two touchdowns in the second half of Oxford Hills/Buckfield’s 19-0 win over Lewiston on Friday night.

VanDecker was almost stopped about 5 yards away from his first score, but kept his feet and stumbled into the end zone.

“I said, ‘I refuse to go down; I want this,’” VanDecker said. “When you’re that close, you can literally smell the end zone — it’s a piece of terminology people use … but it just comes to you, and you’re like, that end zone’s right there, I’m going to go get it.”

VanDecker gained for 115 of his 124 yards rushing in the second half to lead a recommitted ground attack that was stuffed in the first two quarters.

“The second half, for me it was an eye-opener, and I told everyone, ‘We need to move the ball, we need to execute,’” VanDecker said. “For me it was a complete mental game, I just said, ‘All right, I’m going to move this ball, and I’m going to make it happen.’

“And the rest of the team, they really stepped it up, too. We just stepped it up and realized that we really needed to get this going, it’s not going to be handed to us, we need to earn it.”

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VanDecker’s first score gave the Vikings a 13-0 lead. He added another touchdown run with 1:06 remaining in the game to seal the win.

“It was one we needed,” Oxford Hills coach Mark Soehren said.

Oxford Hills’ defense held the Blue Devils’ offense in check for most of the game, holding them to 135 yards total.

“We’re a defensive-oriented team,” Soehren said. “We’re a tough defensive team. I thought we played pretty well on that side of the ball.”

The Vikings’ defense scored the first touchdown of the game, preventing what might have otherwise been a scoreless first half. Lewiston set up a backside screen pass, but 5-foot-7 quarterback Brock Belanger’s pass was tipped and the picked by Oxford Hills’ 6-foot-4 defensive end Connor Bickford, who returned it to the end zone with 3:15 left in the second quarter.

Bickford said that it’s the first time he has returned an interception for a score.

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“I saw him roll out, I’m 6-4, he’s not 6-4, put my hands up, hit me in the hands, watched it come down, caught it, ran it back,” Bickford said. “It felt great.”

Bickford’s touchdown also ended the chances of a repeat of the 2015 matchup between Oxford Hills and Lewiston, when neither team scored in regulation and the Blue Devils won 8-0 in overtime.

“Connor got it started with that defensive score. Of course, you’re thinking, 0-0 that late in the second half, I don’t want to got overtime again; I just want to get this over with.”

The Blue Devils had a similar big play early in the first quarter. On third-and-long, Vikings quarterback Connor Truman dropped back for a pass, but it didn’t go anywhere because a blitzing Garrett Poussard grabbed the ball.

Poussard was stopped at the Oxford Hills 8-yard line. The Blue Devils were unable to capitalize, turning the ball over on downs.

That’s the kind of night it was, especially on offense, for the Blue Devils.

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“When you’re learning how to win, struggling to get wins, it’s tough, it’s frustrating,” Lewiston coach Bruce Nicholas said. “We’re right down here, ready to go up 7-0, and it doesn’t happen.”

Other than a few drives in the second half, the Blue Devils’ defense slowed down the power-running Vikings.

“We’re pretty proud of the D,” Nicholas said. “Their running backs, though, ran really hard. We we had them, they gained another 4 or 5 yards at the end of the carries, and that to me is him moving his legs, not wanting to go down.”

LEWISTON — Once Ryland VanDecker caught a whiff, nothing was holding him back.

VanDecker scored two touchdowns in the second half of Oxford Hills/Buckfield’s 19-0 win over Lewiston on Friday night.

VanDecker was almost stopped about 5 yards away from his first score, but kept his feet and stumbled into the end zone.

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“I said, ‘I refuse to go down; I want this,’” VanDecker said. “When you’re that close, you can literally smell the end zone — it’s a piece of terminology people use … but it just comes to you, and you’re like, that end zone’s right there, I’m going to go get it.”

VanDecker gained for 115 of his 124 yards rushing in the second half to lead a recommitted ground attack that was stuffed in the first two quarters.

“The second half, for me it was an eye-opener, and I told everyone, ‘We need to move the ball, we need to execute,’” VanDecker said. “For me it was a complete mental game, I just said, ‘All right, I’m going to move this ball, and I’m going to make it happen.’

“And the rest of the team, they really stepped it up, too. We just stepped it up and realized that we really needed to get this going, it’s not going to be handed to us, we need to earn it.”

VanDecker’s first score gave the Vikings a 13-0 lead. He added another touchdown run with 1:06 remaining in the game to seal the win.

“It was one we needed,” Oxford Hills coach Mark Soehren said.

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Oxford Hills’ defense held the Blue Devils’ offense in check for most of the game, holding them to 135 yards total.

“We’re a defensive-oriented team,” Soehren said. “We’re a tough defensive team. I thought we played pretty well on that side of the ball.”

The Vikings’ defense scored the first touchdown of the game, preventing what might have otherwise been a scoreless first half. Lewiston set up a backside screen pass, but 5-foot-7 quarterback Brock Belanger’s pass was tipped and the picked by Oxford Hills’ 6-foot-4 defensive end Connor Bickford, who returned it to the end zone with 3:15 left in the second quarter.

Bickford said that it’s the first time he has returned an interception for a score.

“I saw him roll out, I’m 6-4, he’s not 6-4, put my hands up, hit me in the hands, watched it come down, caught it, ran it back,” Bickford said.

“It felt great.”

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Bickford’s touchdown also ended the chances of a repeat of the 2015 matchup between Oxford Hills and Lewiston, when neither team scored in regulation and the Blue Devils won 8-0 in overtime.

“Connor got it started with that defensive score. Of course, you’re thinking, 0-0 that late in the second half, I don’t want to got overtime again; I just want to get this over with.

The Blue Devils had a similar big play early in the first quarter. On third-and-long, Vikings quarterback Connor Truman dropped back for a pass, but it didn’t go anywhere because a blitzing Garrett Poussard grabbed the ball.

Poussard was stopped at the Oxford Hills 8-yard line. The Blue Devils were unable to capitalize, turning the ball over on downs.

That’s the kind of night it was, especially on offense, for the Blue Devils.

“When you’re learning how to win, struggling to get wins, it’s tough, it’s frustrating,” Lewiston coach Bruce Nicholas said. “We’re right down here, ready to go up 7-0, and it doesn’t happen.”

Other than a few drives in the second half, the Blue Devils’ defense slowed down the power-running Vikings.

“We’re pretty proud of the D,” Nicholas said. “Their running backs, though, ran really hard. We we had them, they gained another 4 or 5 yards at the end of the carries, and that to me is him moving his legs, not wanting to go down.”


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