PORTLAND — In the end, momentum was the deciding factor. And Edward Little created it when it was needed most.
A defensive stand in the closing moments was the difference Friday night as Edward Little held on for a 21-14 win over Deering in an Eastern Class A football game at Deering’s Memorial Field.
Quarterback Ian Mileikis ran the ball 19 times for 148 yards and a touchdown to lead the Red Eddies (3-4).
Deering dropped to 1-5 in this tumultuous season that included a coaching change three weeks ago. A win would have kept Deering’s playoff hopes alive. Now, the Rams will close out their season against Cheverus and play Portland on Thanksgiving Day.
“Let’s face it, for a team of predominantly sophomores and juniors, (we) were very competitive tonight,” said Deering Coach Matt Riddell. “They kept fighting and fighting. After all they’ve been through this year, I’m real proud of them.”
Trailing 21-14 with 4:44 to play, the Rams marched 64 yards in 11 plays to reach the EL 11. Then, a holding call negated a touchdown run and pushed Deering back to the 21. From there, the Eddies’ defense kicked it up a notch, as senior lineman Daniel Williams sacked Deering quarterback Mike Marzilli on consecutive plays, allowing EL to reclaim the ball on downs with 15 seconds to go.
“The highs get really high and the lows get really low, no matter what age you are,” Riddell said. “We gave up two big plays and we kept fighting back.”
The first big play came with 1:42 left in the half when Hunter Martin turned a bobbled catch into a 91-yard kickoff return for a touchdown. Mileikis’ point-after made it 14-6 heading to halftime.
Just one play earlier, Marzilli (23 carries, 98 yards, 4-for-6 passing, 64 yards) had finished off a nine-play, 34-yard drive with a 1-yard touchdown run.
“I think especially the timing of that, so close to halftime, was huge,” Martin said. “When everyone is sort cooling down, getting ready for half, we scored.”
The second big play was set up and capped off by Mileikis, who’s also a starting defensive back. First, he intercepted a pass by Marzilli with 6:43 to play, giving the Red Eddies the ball at midfield. Four plays later, Mileikis turned the right corner for a 36-yard touchdown run. His extra point made it 21-14 with about five minutes left.
Johnny Boyd (22 carries, 87 yards) opened scoring for EL with a 2-yard run about two minutes into the second quarter.
Deering tied the game at 14-14 late in the third quarter when sophomore running back Dan Marzilli (22 carries, 87 yards), Mike’s younger brother, scored on an 8-yard run and Mike Marzilli’s rushed for the conversion.