Travis Soule got things started for Deering on Thursday and his teammates followed in a 32-13 win over Portland in the annual Thanksgiving Day game at Fitzpatrick Stadium.

Soule rushed for an 80-yard touchdown on Deering’s first offensive play, quarterback James Opio was 2 of 6 passing for 110 yards and a touchdown in the first quarter and Mike Randall won Deering’s most valuable player award for his two-way play at running back and linebacker.

“This is the reason you play football at Deering,” said Randall.

Portland holds the Thanksgiving Day advantage, 59-42-7, and has won five of the last seven games. Deering last won in 2017 before Thursday’s win.

“The kids we had played hard, and it was a good football game,” said Deering Coach Rob Susi.

Soule finished with 104 yards on seven carries and Opio also had 101 yards on the ground and two touchdowns, including a 58-yard run halfway through the third quarter.


Running back Sam Knop, who scored a rushing touchdown and had an interception, was named the most valuable player for Portland. Jonah Green was awarded the unsung hero award.

After Deering’s opening touchdown, Portland responded on the next drive when quarterback Grant Crosby found Nathan Isajar for a 29-yard touchdown and a 7-6 lead.

Deering took the lead for good on the next drive when Opio lobbed a pass down the left sideline for receiver Will Vachon. The pass was deflected by a Portland defender before Vachon pulled it in and scampered for a 74-yard touchdown.

Portland Coach Jason McLeod said the tradition of the holiday rivalry makes it more than simply another game and it was great to get out there, he said.

“We sustained drives well, but turnovers hurt,” McLeod said.

Both teams hadn’t played in at least three weeks. The Bulldogs finished the season with a 1-7 record and missed the playoffs in Class B South. The Rams finished 2-7, losing in the Class B South quarterfinals to Kennebunk on Nov. 1.

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