OLD ORCHARD BEACH — The Winthrop/Monmouth football team reached deep into its bag of tricks on Halloween night but ultimately it was Old Orchard Beach that was treated to a 28-22 victory in the Western Maine Class D quarterfinals at Joe Regina Field.

“Our goal was to come out and play our best game of the year, and we did,” Winthrop/Monmouth Coach Dave St. Hilaire said. “It wasn’t meant to be, I guess.”

The Ramblers’ best chance to tie or take the lead came with 6:38 remaining in the contest with the ball at the Winthrop/Monmouth 26-yard line.

Winthrop/Monmouth picked up a pair of first downs on the drive before it began to stall, as back-to-back 4-yard runs from Zack Phinney and Dustin Tripp set the Ramblers up with a third-and-2 at the Seagulls’ 43-yard line.

Dakota Carter was then stopped for no gain on third down and just prior to the snap on fourth, St. Hilaire called a timeout. During the commotion, however, an Old Orchard Beach player suffered what appeared to be a head, neck or back injury.

The injury delayed the dramatic fourth-down play by about 20 minutes as the player was ultimately carried off on a backboard to a nearby ambulance.

On the reset the Ramblers called for a quarterback keeper by Matt Ingram, but the sophomore signal caller came up a little over the length of a football short of the line to gain with 2:20 remaining in the contest.

“The kids rallied and did a great job, no complaints with that,” OOB Coach Dean Plante said. “I was a little surprised they ran it inside.

“… I’ve been in situations as a player where you can lose focus, especially when it’s one of your buddies that just went down. We’ve got some good seniors that kept them focused.”

Winthrop/Monmouth kept hope alive by forcing a three-and-out to get the ball back with 1:08 left to play, but the drive halted immediately after Ingram’s pass was tipped and intercepted by Evan Christensen.

The Ramblers may have come up short in the end but it was not for lack of ingenuity.

After falling behind 6-0 on a 17-yard touchdown pass from Bryan Roberts to Erik Hogan with 4:38 left in the opening quarter, Winthrop/Monmouth responded with 95-yard touchdown pass when Ingram threw backward to Phinney, who in turn threw down the field to Bennett Brown racing down the sidelines.

“We were going to bring everything and the kitchen sink and throw it at them,” St. Hilaire said. “What else do we have to lose?”

The Seagulls answered when Roberts ran for the first of his three rushing touchdowns, but it was the Ramblers who held a 14-12 lead at the break thanks to Ingram’s 54-yard touchdown pass to Brooks with 1:29 to go until intermission.

Winthrop/Monmouth appeared to be ready to build on that momentum with another long drive, but it stalled when Phinney – in a moment of foreshadowing – was stopped an inch short of the first down on fourth-and-3 from the OOB 32-yard line.

On the very next play Roberts galloped his way to a 68-yard touchdown. Roberts added another long scoring run – this time from 57 yards – to make it 28-14 with 9:52 left to play.

The Ramblers’ ensuing drive appeared to stall when they were backed up to fourth-and-7 at their own 43, but they faked the punt and ran a direct snap to Alec Brown, who broke free for a 44-yard gain. Four plays later Ingram plunged into the end zone from a yard out with 8:03 left in the game.

“We didn’t break,” St. Hilaire said. “We came back, put some drives together and we hung tough. Can’t be ashamed of that.”

That would be as close as the Ramblers came to reclaiming the lead.

“I’ll give them credit, that team has improved a ton,” Plante said. “Dave’s done a great job this year; they’ve overcome a lot of stuff going on up that way. Hats off to them.”

Evan Crawley can be contacted at 621-5640 or at:

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Twitter: @Evan_Crawley