SANFORD — Belief. That’s what Sanford High’s football team had going for it Friday night.

Forget the turnovers. Forget the penalties.

“We never got down on ourselves,” said Frankie Veino, Sanford’s senior quarterback. “And we kept competing to the end.”

Sanford rallied for two touchdowns in the final six minutes to defeat Deering 20-13 at Cobb Stadium. Veino threw an improbable 74-yard touchdown pass to Ethan Belanger with just over five minutes left, then scored the winning touchdown on a twisting 3-yard run with 72 seconds remaining.

Both teams are 1-1.

“That was a great high school football game,” said Sanford Coach Mike Fallon. “It is huge for our self-confidence.”

“This puts us on the map,” said Gage Cyr, a senior linebacker. “We came in as underdogs. It’s a huge boost.”

The Spartans trailed only 6-0 at the half despite turning the ball over three times – two interceptions and a fumble – and piling up 70 yards in penalties. Sanford held Deering’s potent offense in check, giving up only an 8-yard touchdown run to Nate Richards in the first quarter, set up by a Robbie Dacey interception.

Fallon said the Spartans made some blocking adjustments at halftime to take away Deering’s inside blitzes. It was 6-6 entering the fourth quarter, when Deering seemed to take control. Coach Jason Jackson installed Richards at quarterback and brought in Caysey Anthony at running back. Anthony plowed through the Spartans and scored on a bruising 26-yard run with 8:43 left. The PAT kick by Omed Hadibzai gave Deering a 13-6 lead.

It seemed secure when Sanford was backed up to third-and-28 from its own 26 following a bad shotgun snap that Veino had to fall on. But Veino dropped back and threw the ball as far as he could down the left sideline – getting clobbered as he released it. He never saw the ball drop into Belanger’s hands. Belanger, playing football for the first time since the eighth grade, somehow got behind the secondary and made an over-the-shoulder catch, then raced into the end zone.

“I have complete confidence in Ethan that he’ll come down with that,” said Veino. “We work on that play all the time in practice and … it’s just surreal.”

Sanford’s PAT kick was wide, leaving Deering with a one-point lead. But a mistake on special teams led to Sanford’s winning touchdown.

After catching a low snap, the Deering punter’s knee touched the ground, stopping the play and giving Sanford the ball at the Rams 19. Six running plays later, Veino went off right tackle, spun to his left and stumbled into the end zone. A conversion rush by San Anderson, who led Sanford with 63 rushing yards, made it 20-13 with 1:12 left.

Deering had one last chance, but Cyr sacked Deering quarterback Joe Pelletier twice – the first along with Nick Howard, the second on fourth down by himself.

“I knew the game was on the line,” said Cyr. “And I wasn’t going to let them get back in the game.”

Deering’s Jackson said the Rams now have to regroup and find their identity.

“We made a lot of mistakes,” he said. “And you can’t make a bunch of mistakes without it coming back to haunt you. And it came back to haunt us tonight for sure.”