PORTLAND – After a scoreless first quarter, Josh Carland of Deering blocked a Portland punt early in the second and the ball bounced straight up to Trey Thomes, who raced 51 yards for a touchdown.

The play gave Deering the boost it needed. The Rams went on to beat Portland 28-7 in a Western Class A football game Friday night at Deering’s Memorial Field.

Deering (4-0) used big plays to stay on top of Portland (2-2).

“(Carland) did the play on his own,” said Deering Coach Jon Gallant. “All we wanted was to make sure Portland punted the ball. It’s a good thing Josh made the play.”

The first quarter was a feeling-out process for the rivals, with neither having an edge.

“The blocked punt changed the momentum of the game,” said Deering quarterback Matt Flaherty. “It got the jitters out.”

Thomes and Carland broke in on punter Mike Herrick. Thomes had clear sailing to the end zone after Carland’s alert play.

“It’s a play we work on in practice,” said Gallant.

The Rams were successful throwing the ball after that. Flaherty hit James Doyle for 20 yards, then Matt Kimball for 8.

The drive stumbled slightly when the Rams lost yardage recovering their own fumble.

A pass interference call in the end zone on Portland was negated when Deering was called for unsportsmanlike conduct.

But Thomes gained 12 yards from the 22, and after two motion penalties against Deering, Flaherty passed to Kimball for a touchdown, with Kimball making a nice grab cutting across the end zone.

Deering made it 21-0 early in the third quarter on a 1-yard run by Nick DiBiase. The play was set up by a 32-yard pass from Flaherty to Renaldo Lowry to the 1.

The Bulldogs scored late in the third quarter on a 14-yard run by quarterback Jayvon Pitts-Young, who ran well out of the wildcat offense.

Early in the fourth, Lowry got behind the Portland secondary to haul in a 37-yard scoring pass from Flaherty.

Late in the game, the Bulldogs drove to the Deering 8 but fumbled, with Kenny Sweet recovering for Deering.

“Deering is a big-play team and they won it on big plays,” said Portland Coach Mike Bailey.

“Other than those, I thought it was a pretty even game. Our defense was on the field a long time. I thought they played well. Offensively we showed flashes but that’s it — flashes. We need to have more consistency.”

The Bulldogs contained Deering’s running game, but the Rams won with speed and athleticism.

“We can spread the field with a lot of athletes,” said Gallant. “If they concentrate too much on (Lowry), we’ve got other guys we can get the ball to.”

Flaherty competed 10 of 13 passes for 171 yards and two touchdowns.

Thomes finished with 64 yards rushing.

“The kids have done a good job focusing on what team is ahead,” said Gallant.

Sweet sparked the Deering defense, which had two interceptions and a fumble recovery.

Gallant cited the play of lineman Jonathan DeLoach, who filled in at center when the starter couldn’t play because of illness.

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

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