WESTBROOK – Last year Westbrook won only one game. Last week the Blue Blazes didn’t score a point in a loss to Bonny Eagle.

So it may have seemed to the casual fan that South Portland had little to worry about Friday night. A letdown, perhaps, after knocking off defending Class A state champion Windham the previous week.

“Oh, no,” South Portland quarterback Tommy Ellis said about the possibility of looking past Westbrook. “Coach preached all week about how they’re a very physical football team. We came in expecting a dogfight, and that’s what we got.”

In fact, the Blue Blazes took an early lead, then came back from two deficits to forge a one-point lead late in the third quarter before finally falling 34-22 in a hard-hitting Western Class A football game Friday.

“We’re a good team,” said Westbrook running back Manny Vincent, who ran for 131 yards and one touchdown and scored another on a 40-yard interception return. “We know we can compete with anybody in the SMAA.”

Vincent skirted left end on a fourth-down play from 10 yards out and followed with the same play on a successful conversion to give Westbrook a 22-21 lead with four minutes remaining in the third quarter.

South Portland, which lost two fumbles and had two passes picked off in the first half, responded with a 75-yard scoring drive in seven plays to take the lead for good. The biggest play was a 48-yard completion down the left sideline from Ellis to Logan Gaddar.

Jacob Stanley capped the drive with a 6-yard touchdown run for a 27-22 lead. Three plays later, Stephen Hodge recovered a Westbrook fumble and the Red Riots (2-0) scored again, this time on a play-action pass of 22 yards from Ellis to a wide-open Billy Darling. Ellis provided his fourth successful point-after kick to complete the scoring.

“With them in the lead (22-21),” South Portland Coach Steve Stinson said, “we could have allowed that negative momentum to snowball and go the rest of the game that way and say, ‘you know what, we really don’t want it that bad tonight,’ but not this team. This team is poised, led by seniors who have invested thousands of hours into this football season.”

Ellis finished with 194 yards and three touchdowns on a 9-for-19 passing performance. He also scored on a 43-yard draw play late in the second quarter, three plays after giving up the interception to Vincent that gave Westbrook a 14-14 tie.

“Our line blocked great on that play and all night,” Ellis said.

Westbrook (0-2) took a 6-0 lead with help from a fumble on South Portland’s opening drive. The Blue Blazes needed nine plays to cover 40 yards, with Steven Wescott scoring from the 1.

South Portland took a 7-6 lead early in the second quarter thanks to a 26-yard touchdown pass from Ellis to Gaddar.

An interception by Stanley set up another South Portland touchdown, this one on a swing pass to Hodge, who broke two tackles and ran 38 yards for the score.

“I thought we took a big step forward this week,” Westbrook Coach Jeff Guerette said. “Our execution was more sound on the offensive side of the ball, and on the defensive side of the ball, we just stepped up our level of physical play.”


Staff Writer Glenn Jordan can be contacted at 791-6425 or at: [email protected]