PORTLAND – If his Cheverus teammates needed any more reminding, big Christian Deschenes stood up to become a 6-foot-2, 240-pound exclamation point. Hey guys, he said, after Deering scored the game’s first touchdown and made it look easy.

“They came to play today.”

Cheverus beat Deering, 35-34, Saturday and while victory was earned, the defeat was not. This will be little solace to Deering today, but they erased the stigma of losing to Cheverus by 30 points at the end of the regular season.

These were two teams who smacked each other in the mouth again and again Saturday and came back for more.

These were two quarterbacks on opposite sides who turned the game for the Western Maine championship into a 48-minute audition for the 2010 Fitzpatrick Award. Peter Gwilym for Cheverus and Jamie Ross for Deering did everything but run water to their teammates during time outs.

After Gwilym ran to the bench following a right sideline-to-left touchdown run that was negated by a penalty, he shouted to Cam Olson, the backup quarterback who is out with a season-ending injury: “Just give me the (bleeping) ball,” knowing of course it was a rant out of frustration and not a demand. “Give me the ball.”

“He was saying that a lot in the second half,” said Zach Dulac, a lineman and senior captain with Gwilym and Liam Hobbins. “He was saying that a lot.”

Gwilym is a well-conditioned athlete but he was all but gassed. It was late in the fourth quarter and the unusual November warmth plus the intensity of the game had their effect. Cheverus Coach John Wolfgram hadn’t heard Gwilym’s shout but obliged, calling his quarterback’s number again and again until his keeper put Cheverus on the Deering 8 for a fourth-and-1.

Later, both coach and player would say it was because the Deering defense was keying on running backs Evan Jendrasko and Spencer Cooke. Left unsaid was the fact Cheverus had been turning the ball over on fumbles.

Cooke got the next call and on second effort picked up the first-and-goal on the Deering 6. Three plays later, Jendrasko scored from the 1.

“I knew (Gwilym) was tired, but he’s the type of player who can reach down and pull out something extra,” said Wolfgram. “He was running on adrenaline.”

They all were, no matter the color of their uniform. They cramped. They ached. They fought to catch their breaths.

After Jendrasko’s touchdown, Deering had 25.5 seconds to go 62 yards for a touchdown. Ross got all but 19 yards of it on one pass to Renaldo Lowry, who had found the seams in the Cheverus secondary throughout the game.

His touchdown, the first of the game, was the early wake-up call for Cheverus. Now it seemed long, long ago.

Just under seven seconds remained. Deering Coach Greg Stilphen decided Ross would win the game with his foot, not his arm. The 36-yard attempt was within Ross’ range.

On the field, Gwilym hoped someone, anyone would get a hand on Ross’ kick. No one could say they did, but the ball pushed left.

Wolfgram thought the difference between winning and losing came down to a couple of feet. Others thought it was inches.

Before Gwilym turned to join the celebration, he stopped and put his hand on Ross. They’re not friends, they don’t hang together. They’ve competed against each other since grade school.

Deering turnovers had led to Cheverus touchdowns. Early in the second quarter Cheverus led, 29-6. Some wondered if a repeat of the 44-14 Cheverus blowout of three weeks ago was about to happen.

Ross wouldn’t let that happen. He brought the Rams back. Down 29-20 in the third quarter, he threw his third interception. Dulac stepped in front of a pass. Before he could turn upfield, Ross was on top of him, delivering a very hard message tackle.

He had made a mistake and was going to make it right. On the next series following a Cheverus turnover, his number was called six out of seven times. Ross scored on a 2-yard keeper. The Cheverus lead was down to two points.

After John Hardy intercepted Gwilym, Ross led his team downfield again to score the touchdown that put Deering ahead. He hoped it would be enough. He knew the strength of Gwilym’s character.

Now the game was over and one quarterback had something to say to the other.

“I told him,” said Gwilym afterward, “he’s still the best.”

Staff Writer Steve Solloway can be contacted at 791-6412 or at:

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