WINDHAM — When Cheverus High scored the first touchdown to take a 6-0 lead in the third quarter, Windham Coach Matt Perkins knew his team had to change its approach.

The running game was shelved, and Windham went to the air.

Quarterback Tanner Bernier threw two touchdown passes in the fourth quarter to rally fourth-seeded Windham to a 12-6 victory Friday in a Class A North quarterfinal. Bernier’s 15-yard pass to Hunter Coffin with 58 seconds left was the winner.

The Eagles (5-4) advance to the semifinals next Friday against No. 1 Edward Little (7-1), which beat Windham 21-13 during the regular season.

No. 5 Cheverus is done at 3-6. The Stags began the year with a 24-0 loss at Windham but put up a better battle in the rematch.

“We played really gritty,” Stags Coach Mike Vance said. “But, in the end, they made the big play.”

The first half was scoreless, with neither team getting past the other’s 30.

On the first series of the second half, Cheverus got the game’s first big break. Windham attempted to punt, but a low snap forced Coffin, the punter, to scramble, and Teigan Lindstedt tackled him at the Windham 25.

The Stags did not score, but Vic Morrone’s punt pinned the Eagles back. After a short Windham punt, Cheverus needed to go just 19 yards for a touchdown, as Lindstedt’s 9-yard run with 5:52 left in the third quarter made 6-0. The Stags went for the 2-point conversion, but Windham recorded a sack.

Cheverus’ workhorse back, Max Coffin, was out because of a torn ACL. Lindstedt filled in and rushed for 75 yards.

Windham was having trouble running the ball, so Perkins changed tactics.

“They were giving us things and taking away a lot,” Perkins said. “So, we got to the point and said ‘here’s what we’re doing,’ and we did it.

“Tanner is very, very good. He has a quick release. We had a hard time at the end of the third (quarter) pass protecting. As the fourth went on, it got better and better.”

The Stags, with Bobby Holzhacker, Nathan Dunn and Morrone leading the pass rush, were putting pressure on Bernier.

But Bernier completed 13 of 31 passes for 183 yards.

The Eagles drove 60 yards, fueled by two Cheverus penalties, for the tying touchdown. Bernier threw to Treva Valliere, who slipped a tackle and scored from 13 yards out with 11:27 left. Windham missed the extra-point kick, keeping the score tied.

Cheverus thought it had scored the go-ahead touchdown when quarterback Perrin Conant passed over the middle to Morrone, who sprinted to the end zone for an apparent 60-yard TD. But an ineligible receiver penalty nullified the score.

Windham started its last drive on the Cheverus 31 after a short punt. Bernier eventually connected with Coffin.

“I had a couple (passes) I missed and I was upset about that,” Coffin said. “But I knew my coaches believed in me and my quarterback was going to give me a heck of a throw.”

Cheverus then reached the Windham 42 but fumbled with 30 seconds left.

“We made a couple more mistakes than they did at the end,” Vance said. “In the playoffs, it comes down to a couple of things in a tight game.”

Kevin Thomas can be reached at 791-6411 or:

[email protected]

Twitter: KevinThomasPPH

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