PORTLAND – Quarterback Jamie Ross led Deering on a 98-yard drive in the final 41/2 minutes Friday night, scoring with 14 seconds left to cap a come-from-behind 21-14 victory against Portland in a Western Class A football opener at Fitzpatrick Stadium.

The drive came just after the Bulldogs made it 14-14 on a spectacular catch-and-run by Mike Herrick that covered 92 yards with 4:25 remaining.

Deering misplayed the kickoff and was pinned back at its 2. Enter Ross, a senior and three-year starter with a big arm and speed.

He marched Deering the length of the field and scored on a 2-yard run on the 16th play, then kicked the extra point.

The Bulldogs got the ball with 11 seconds left, but on second down Renaldo Lowry intercepted an Imadhi Zagon pass to end it.

Ross had a hand or foot in all of Deering’s points, with two touchdowns, a scoring pass and three PATs.

“We couldn’t get down after Portland went some 90 yards,” said Ross. “I told the team it was time to step up. We kept our heads up, drove the field and got the score.”

Deering had to come back after Portland held a 7-0 halftime lead.

“We were more relaxed in the second half,” said Ross. “The run started to open our passing attack. We came out a little slow in the first half. It was first-game nerves. We started to pick it up at the end of the first half.”

On the winning drive, Ross completed four passes for 63 yards and ran six times for 32 yards.

“We weathered the storm and played great defense in the second half,” said Deering Coach Greg Stilphen. “In the first half we were pressing to make plays. We settled down in the second half, ran our offense, and Jamie delivered the ball.

“It was a good character win. Portland played hard. Last year we didn’t have the maturity to win these kinds of games. You have to give the guys credit. They stepped up and won.”

Ross opened the final drive with a 13-yard run. On the next play, he hit John Hardy for 13 yards. On a third down, Ross passed to Lowry for 17 yards, then followed with a 10-yarder to James Doyle. On another third down, Ross and Hardy teamed up for a 23-yard gain to the Portland 7 with 1:06 left.

Ross got 4 yards on first down. Nick DiBiase gained 1, then Ross scored off the right side.

“Deering has the quarterback and the receivers,” said Portland Coach Mike Bailey. “We have a green secondary and it showed. We’re going to have to throw the ball better and be more balanced on offense.”

The Bulldogs took a 7-0 lead in the first quarter on an 8-yard run by Zagon. Deering tied it on its first possession of the second half when Ross passed in the flat to Lowry, who outran the defense for a 62-yard touchdown.

The Rams made it 14-7 on their next possession, Ross scoring on a 16-yard run after bobbling the center snap.

The Bulldogs surprised Deering late in the fourth to tie it. Zagon passed to Herrick down the sideline for a 92-yard score. Herrick outfought a defender for the ball, then shook him off.

The game had contrasting halves, similar to last year’s meeting won by Deering at Memorial Field. The Rams also won their second game a year ago, then lost their last six.

“We don’t want to have a repeat of that,” said Ross. “This is just one of seven more regular- season games and hopefully the playoffs. We need to keep playing like this.”

Staff Writer Tom Chard can be reached at 791-6419 or at:

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