WINTHROP — Lisbon quarterback Tyler Halls said he’s “never really been a believer of God.”

But when the Greyhounds senior launched the ball into the waning autumn sunlight with the seconds ticking off the clock in the Class D South regional final against Winthrop/Monmouth on Saturday, he’s willing to admit that some higher power answered his Hail Mary.

Kurtis Bolton came down with the ball, got free, and scampered to the 1-yard line. After a timeout, Noah Francis wedged his 275-pound frame through a mass of humanity for a 1-yard gain and a touchdown with 0.8 seconds on the clock, lifting the Greyhounds to a 20-17 win over Winthrop/Monmouth at Maxwell Field.

The second-seeded Greyhounds (8-1) had just 16.4 seconds left and 56 yards to work with after the top-seeded Ramblers (8-1) scored their own miraculous touchdown to take a 17-14 lead.

“You don’t think your chances are very good,” Lisbon coach Dick Mynahan said. “You tell the kids, ‘Keep your heads up, there’s still 16 seconds to go,’ but you don’t, way down there, think it’s going to happen. But it happened, and we’re pretty happy it did.”

The play call was Vanderbilt — a vertical passing play — according to Halls, who threw up the Hail Mary just before he got hit. The ball floated toward a quagmire that looked like the window of washing machine loaded with both teams’ jerseys. Someone — no one knew who — got a hand on the ball to tip it, and it found the waiting hands of Bolton.

“When I saw Tyler Halls throw it up in my direction, all I saw was a green defender go up with his green glove and tip the ball up in the air a little bit higher,” Bolton said. “I came out, put my hand out and pulled it in, and I thought for sure I had the touchdown.”

His mad dash to the end zone came up a yard short, thwarted by a Winthrop/Monmouth defender, but, “Noah Francis put it away, like he always does,” Bolton added.

The Ramblers still had the ensuing kickoff to pin their hopes to, but a series of laterals didn’t provide nearly enough yards for another shocking touchdown.

Twenty-six of the game’s 34 points came in a fourth quarter for the ages. The Ramblers went up 10-8 early in the period thanks to a 44-yard touchdown strike from Matt Ingram to Bennett Brooks. The Greyhounds then countered with a 14-play, all-run drive capped by 3-yard run by Lucas Francis with just over two minutes to play.

That set up a final chance for the Ramblers, who ran just once on the ensuing possession. That was an 8-yard scramble on the second play by Ingram, who was just 2-of-10 passing entering the fourth quarter. He completed six of 10 passes on his team’s final drive, including a fourth-down pass to Tyler Cote and an 18-yard touchdown pass on fourth-and-13 to Nate Scott.

“We had opposite posts going to the middle of the field, and middle of the field was vacated,” Ingram said. “And I just sat in the pocket and waited, and both Bennett and Nate were in there. He made a spectacular catch on it.”

Scott eluded three would-be tacklers and dove into the right corner of the end zone.

Slow start

There weren’t many special catches to speak of in the first half — or any scoring catches or carries of any kind. The lone score before halftime was a 29-yard field goal by the Ramblers’ Tyler Cote late in the first quarter. Ingram completed just two of his nine attempts in the first half, and Halls only threw twice, completing both to Lucas Francis.

The Ramblers’ defense came up with the big plays in a first-half shutout. They stopped Halls on a fake punt run on Lisbon’s initial series. They later stopped him short of the first down on a fourth-down run inside the red zone, and also picked off a pass attempt from Lucas Francis.

“We didn’t let Halls get outside,” Winthrop/Monmouth coach Dave St. Hilaire said. “He had the ball on a few carries. We just didn’t give up big plays, and made them work for it. And that was our game plan.”

The Greyhounds came out with the same game plan on offense they ran in the first half, but the execution was what changed. They ran 19 plays — all runs — and drove 70 yards in 8 minutes and 30 seconds. Noah Francis finished the drive with a 1-yard run, and Halls ran in the two-point conversion for an 8-3 lead.

“They stopped our power offense in the first half,” Halls said. “But we came out with it again (in the second half). We scored on that first drive, and we really needed that.”

The teams then traded short drives before Alec Brown carried the ball for two yards to end the third quarter. That came a play after a Halls fourth-down pass was knocked down.

His only other attempt in the second half didn’t get knocked down, and neither did the Greyhounds.

“I talked to Dick (Mynahan) before the game, and I said it was shaping up to be a great game, and I didn’t realize it was going to be such an exciting ending,” St. Hilaire said. “It was more exciting for them than it was for us, that’s for sure.”

Lisbon advances to the Class D state championship game next Saturday at Fitzpatrick Stadium in Portland, where the Greyhounds will face Maine Central Institute. Lisbon will be looking for its first state football title since winning in Class C in 2006.

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