PORTLAND – Quarterback Peter Gwilym bounced back from a blow to the face at the end of the third quarter to lead unbeaten Cheverus to a come-from-behind 22-19 victory against upset-minded Portland in a Western Class A football game on a humid Saturday at Boulos Stadium.

Portland (1-3) nearly pulled off the crucial win it badly needed.

The Bulldogs led 19-7 early in the fourth quarter before the Stags (4-0) scored 15 unanswered points.

Gwilym, who also plays safety, was knocked down on the final play of the third quarter, a weaving 71-yard run by Caleb Kenney of Portland.

“I got cleaned out from the side,” Gwilym said.

“My jaw had been bothering me most of the game. After the hit it went numb. They put some ice on it and I got some time to rest up.”

Gwilym returned after the Bulldogs had scored to take their 19-7 lead.

Gwilym wasted no time getting Cheverus back into the game. On second down, he passed to a wide- open Spencer Cooke in the middle of the field for a 42-yard gain to the Portland 15. After a 5-yard penalty on the Stags, Liam Hobbins gained 3 yards, then Gwilym swept left to score from the 17. Louie DiStasio’s point after made it 19-14.

The Bulldogs couldn’t get a first down on their next series — three runs by Imadhi Zagon — and punted. Taking over on the Portland 49 with 61/2 minutes remaining, Cheverus scored in 10 plays while eating up more than four minutes.

The drive featured all running plays, with Hobbins powering over the goal line from 3 yards. Gwilym passed to tight end Jack Bushey on a crossing pattern for the 2-point conversion.

Portland got the ball back with 2:01 remaining. On first down, Matt McInnis passed to Tate Gale for 17 yards, but an offside penalty and the Stags’ defense stopped the Bulldogs the rest of the way.

On fourth down, a pass fell incomplete with 29 seconds left.

“We haven’t been tested in the fourth quarter yet and I think it showed our guts how we responded,” said Gwilym. “It showed we can come back and handle adversity. Portland came out with a good game plan and stopped our running game, which is our strength. We had to go with our second-level plays.”

The key play in the comeback was the pass in the middle of the field to Cooke, which ignited the Stags.

In the third quarter, Gwilym passed to Bushey on the same pattern for 24 yards.

“Portland was playing their safeties wide to take away the fade pass,” said Gwilym. “It opened up the middle of the field.”

Was Gwilym surprised at how tough the Bulldogs played?

“In this league, anyone can beat anyone else. Come playoff time it should be interesting,” he said.

In the heat, both teams had to dig deep.

“This was a 48-minute game and both teams played hard for the full 48 minutes,” said Cheverus Coach John Wolfgram. “We showed good resolve, hung tough and played well in the second half. Portland made a couple of big plays to get ahead of us.”

Zagon scored on a pair of 11-yard runs for the Bulldogs. He took a pitch from McInnis on second down to give Portland a 6-0 lead in the second quarter.

The Stags scored on first down after the kickoff when Evan Jendrasko went 64 yards.

DiStasio’s placement made it 7-6.

The Bulldogs returned the favor, scoring on their first play when McInnis and end Mike Herrick hooked up on a 70-yard scoring pass to make it 12-7 with 3:26 remaining in the half.

Zagon’s second touchdown with 10:34 left made it 19-7 after the extra point.

“It was a good effort but we came up short,” said Portland Coach Mike Bailey. “We didn’t do the little things that make a difference in winning. Early penalties hurt us.

“We have to go back to the drawing board. We have to get into the playoffs, which means we need to win our last four games.”

Carl Szanton had an outstanding game at linebacker for Portland.

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

[email protected]