PORTLAND – After 48 minutes of an aerial onslaught, hard hits, one scintillating interception return, a gut-check 70-yard drive and enough highlights for three games, let alone one, Cheverus football coach John Wolfgram summed up what he and a hillside of spectators had just watched.

“The difference in this game was two feet,” said Wolfgram. “Two teams, two feet.”

That was the difference between Cheverus or Deering going to the Class A state final.

Trailing by one point with 6.9 seconds remaining, Deering lined up for a field goal from 36 yards.

Jamie Ross’ kick had the distance, but the ball sailed just wide of the left upright, and Cheverus won the Western Class A title with a thrilling 35-34 victory on a rare balmy November Saturday at Boulos Stadium.

Cheverus (11-0) will play Bangor (10-1) for the state title next Saturday at Fitzpatrick Stadium in Portland. Times for the three state title games will be announced Monday.

Deering (8-3) trailed 29-6 with 10:41 left in the first half before mounting a comeback. The Rams scored just before halftime to make it 29-12, then scored 22 points over the next 161/2 minutes to take a 34-29 lead.

The Stags, despite appearing tired, came roaring back. Getting the ball with 7:30 left, Cheverus went 70 yards in 15 plays for the winning points. The drive featured the running of quarterback Peter Gwilym, who the Rams seemed to have trapped behind the line several times, only to have him slip or break tackles.

The Stags had two penalties called on them on the winning drive, a personal foul, then a clip that wiped out an apparent 37-yard scoring run by Gwilym.

But Cheverus kept driving, helped by a huge play by Spencer Cooke, who bulled for a first down on fourth-and-1 at the Deering 8 with time winding down and the season on the line.

Three plays later, Cheverus was back in front, scoring with 30 seconds remaining on a 1-yard run by Evan Jendrasko. It came just after Gwilym passed to Jack Bushey on a short crossing pattern to the 1.

Gwilym carried 10 times on Cheverus’ winning drive.

“We climbed on No 6’s shoulders and rode him down the field,” said Wolfgram. “This game had everything. Both teams competing. Both teams’ playmakers making plays. This is what high school sports is all about.”

“I wanted to put the team on my back,” said Gwilym. “They were keying on (Jendrasko) and (Cooke). Our base stuff wasn’t working.

“This is the best high school football game I’ve been a part of. To come out on top feels amazing. We know how it feels to lose by a point.”

A year ago, the Stags lost 7-6 to Windham in the regional final.

Even with the touchdown, the Stags had to survive one last Deering bid. The Rams got the ball on their 38 with 25 seconds left. After two incompletions, Ross hit Renaldo Lowry, who went between two defenders for the catch and a 43-yard gain to the Cheverus 19.

The Rams thought about using a sneak by Ross to get the ball more toward the center of the field for a field-goal attempt, but even with a timeout available, decided not to take a chance and lined up for the kick.

“We figured, why not kick it now,” said Ross. “It started out good. It had plenty of distance but it hooked a couple of feet to the left. It wasn’t meant to be.

“I can’t say enough about the way we came back and gave Cheverus a run. There was no doubt in our minds that we could come back. We’ve been down before.”

Ross threw for three touchdowns, ran for two and was 26 of 51 passing for 377 yards. He threw three interceptions.

Late in the first quarter, Gwilym intercepted a Ross pass in the end zone, hesitated for a second before coming out, then returned it 102 yards for a touchdown that made it 22-6 after a 2-point conversion.

Gwilym ran for 58 yards and completed 6 of 9 passes for 102 yards and a touchdown.

Ross opened the game by completing his first four passes. His sixth pass to Lowry went for a 9-yard score to make it 6-0.

Cheverus then needed only three plays to take the lead when Cooke broke through the middle for a 71-yard touchdown run.

The Stags’ next three touchdowns came off turnovers. Linebacker Ryan Casale intercepted a Ross pass that led to an 8-yard Jendrasko score. Then came Gwilym’s long interception. And after a Deering fumble, the Stags padded their lead on a 38-yard pass from Gwilym to Louie DiStasio.

Deering answered with a 61-yard scoring pass from Ross to Lowry with 2:16 left in the half.

Ross scored on a 5-yard run in the third quarter and added a 1-yard run in the fourth.

“We could have easily folded,” said Deering Coach Greg Stilphen. “But we continued to play and never quit.”

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

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