SOUTH PORTLAND—Considering it was playing a game that had been postponed the night before and that it fell behind by 16 points in the fourth quarter on a steamy afternoon, South Portland’s football team could have rolled over Saturday against visiting Lewiston at Martin Memorial Stadium.

Instead, the Red Riots roared back, tying the score in just over three dizzying minutes, but the one thing they did wrong was leave time on the clock.

And the Blue Devils took advantage, marching down the field behind the right arm of junior quarterback Lonnie Thomas before junior Michael Caron booted a 22-yard field goal with just 9.5 seconds remaining.

That proved to be the difference as Lewiston went on to a 19-16 victory and as a result, both teams are now 1-1 on the young season.

“Early in the season, we have to find out what we’re made of,” said South Portland coach Aaron Filieo. “I feel like the kids can play at the top level. For a minute there, it was questionable, but they battled back and I’m proud of them for that.”

Friday night


South Portland pulled away late to beat visiting Cony in last week’s opener, 20-6.

Lewiston, meanwhile, suffered a 43-0 home loss to reigning Class A champion Oxford Hills, which broke open a 14-0 game at halftime with 29 second half points.

“We know we left a lot of meat on the bone against Oxford Hills,” said Lewiston coach Jason Versey. “They’re a great program, but I felt that in many areas we played them tough.”

The Red Riots and Blue Devils last met in the 2017 season opener, a 34-21 home win for Lewiston. That was the teams’ lone previous meeting this century.

The 2023 encounter would prove unforgettable, as the game began Friday night, was suspended by lightning, then after the game resumed on an oppressive Saturday afternoon, the squads punched and counter-punched until the final horn.

Friday, the Blue Devils won the opening coin toss but deferred possession to the second half.


Little did Lewiston know that second half possession wouldn’t occur until the calendar had flipped.

South Portland got good field position to start the game, when sophomore Alex Horton returned the opening kickoff 25 yards to the Red Riots’ 44, but the hosts couldn’t take advantage, as after senior Matthew Frey ran for eight yards, he was dropped for a two-yard loss by junior Gage Parent, then junior quarterback Easton Healy threw incomplete, forcing a punt. Healy then took off for 19 yards on a fake punt, but the play was called back due to a hold and on the next snap, Healy did punt, giving the Blue Devils the ball at their 39 for their first possession.

South Portland’s defense stood tall early, allowing sophomore Damonte Spearman just one yard on first down and after Thomas threw incomplete, holding senior Michael Klick to two yards, forcing a punt. Healy returned the ensuing punt 16 yards to set the Red Riots up at their 36 and in a drive that chewed up over 7 minutes and 15 plays, they drove deep into Lewiston territory before ultimately coming up empty.

Junior Matthew Berry got things started with a six-yard run and after Frey gained three, Healy kept the ball on third-and-1 and picked up three yards for a first down at the 48. After Healy gained one yard, Frey rushed for five, but Healy was held to three yards on third-and-4, setting up fourth down, where Frey moved the chains with a seven-yard pickup to the Blue Devils’ 36. After senior wide receiver Gabe Galarraga wasn’t quite able to haul in a highlight reel catch, the Healy-Galarraga tandem connected for 11 yards and a first down at the 25. Frey ran for three yards and on the next play, a defensive pass interference penalty set South Portland up at the Lewiston 12. Frey gained two yards to the 10, but that’s as far as the Red Riots would advance. Healy twice threw incomplete and on fourth-and-8, he was intercepted along the right sideline by junior Jeffrey Randall.

The Blue Devils started at their 8 and again went three-and-out, as Klick ran for three yards, sophomore Jayden Sands gained four and after a false start penalty brought an end to the first period, Healy intercepted Thomas at the Lewiston 48 on the first play of the second quarter.

Again, South Portland would be left frustrated, as Healy threw three straight incompletions before Healy punted to the Blue Devils’ 20.


Lewiston’s third drive would prove to be a charm, as the Blue Devils ran 17 plays (and two others called back by penalty) and chewed up a whopping 10 minutes, 46 seconds before opening the scoring.

The drive began quietly, as Randall ran for three yards, Spearman gained four, then Randall picked up two, but Versey went for it on fourth-and-1 from deep in his own territory and Thomas picked up the necessary yard to retain possession. After Spearman ran for seven yards, Sands picked up four, moving the chains to the 41. Randall was held to no gain, but first Spearman, then Klick ran for five, putting the ball in Red Riots’ territory. The next play produced something you rarely see, a quarterback receiving his own pass, as sophomore Tristen Sanders batted Thomas’ throw right back into his hands and he was brought down for no gain. Thomas then connected with Randall for 15 yards to the 34 and after Klick ran for three yards, Randall broke a tackle and gained eight for a first down at the 23. A false start penalty backed Lewiston up five yards, then a holding penalty set up first-and-24, but on the next play, Thomas found senior Tafari Corson-James for 28 yards, setting up first-and-goal from the 9. After Corson-James ran for seven yards to the 2, he was held to no gain, but on third-and-goal, Randall bulled in from the 2 with 36.8 seconds to go in the half.

Lightning was then viewed in the area and after Thomas fired a two-point conversion pass to junior Joseph Dube for an 8-0 advantage, the game was suspended for a minimum of 30 minutes.

Unfortunately, lightning persisted and with the upcoming forecast suggesting more of the same, the officials and coaches took the rare step of suspending the contest.

The Blue Devils got on a bus back to Lewiston and it was announced that the game would commence Saturday at 1 p.m.



The sky was clear when the teams returned to action Saturday, but the temperature was 82 degrees and the humidity made it feel even hotter.

The first half came to a close with South Portland in possession of the ball. Starting from their 28, the Red Riots got a 14-yard run from Horton before Healy twice threw incomplete. On the final play of the half, Healy broke free for 33 yards, but he was brought down at the Blue Devils’ 25 to run out the clock.

With no halftime break, Lewiston got the ball at its 32 to start the second half and embarked on a promising drive that wouldn’t result in points.

After Spearman ran for one yard and Klick gained four, Randall was held to two yards, forcing a punt. Instead, with two rushers bearing down to block the kick, Klick kept the ball, ran to his right and picked up eight yards for a first down.

“We knew all week we’d be able to block a punt and we almost did, but we got there too fast,” Filieo lamented. “I think the guys didn’t know what to do.”

After Klick gained a yard, Thomas hit Spearman for 15 yards and a first down at South Portland’s 37. Randall then ran for three yards, picked up a first down with a nine-yard burst, then ran for one yard and three yards, to set up third-and-6 at the 21. The Red Riots then came up big on defense, as Frey and senior Alex Dobson sacked Thomas for a six-yard loss. Thomas lost his helmet on the play and by rule, had to come out for a play. Randall filled in at quarterback and ran for 10 yards, but was stopped short of the first down and South Portland got the ball back at its 17.


The Red Riots started to drive, as Frey ran for three yards and after a five-yard offsides penalty on Lewiston, Healy ran for six yards and a first down at the 31. Healy then gained four yards before sophomore Connor Gerard picked up one. On third-and-5, Healy connected with Horton for seven yards and a first down, but two incomplete passes and a holding penalty brought an end to the third quarter.

On the first play of the final stanza, Healy threw incomplete again and South Portland had to punt. The Blue Devils got the ball back at their 41 and embarked on their second scoring drive, a 10-play, 59-yard, 4:56 march to double their lead.

Frey and junior Alex Bunnell-Parker brought Sands down for a four-yard loss on first down, but on the next snap, Thomas hit Randall for 13 yards, then Randall moved the chains with a 10-yard rumble to South Portland’s 40. After Randall lost a yard, Thomas scrambled for five and on third-and-6, Thomas connected with Dube, who made a nice one-handed catch on a ball thrown behind him, for a first down at the 26. Randall ran for two yards, then picked up four before a holding penalty set up third-and-14. Undaunted, Thomas rolled left and threw a perfect ball to Klick down the left side and Klick went out of bounds at the 1. Thomas did the rest, scoring on a 1-yard keeper with 6:51 to play, then Randall scored on a two-point conversion rush for a seemingly safe 16-0 lead.

But the Red Riots would roar to life and in just over three minutes, come all the way back.

After a touchback, South Portland started at its 20 and four plays and 58 seconds later, was on the board.

Healy ran for five yards, then threw incomplete before moving the chains with a 19-yard run to the 44. Healy then rolled left and threw deep downfield to a wide open Berry, who hauled in the pass and outraced the defense to the end zone for the 56-yard touchdown with 5:53 on the clock. Healy bulled in for two-point conversion rush and the Red Riots had cut the deficit in half.


South Portland’s defense then got the ball right back.

Lewiston took over at its 21, but Spearman was held to no gain, Randall gained three yards, then Thomas threw incomplete. Again, Klick wasn’t able to get off a punt due to a high snap, but this time, the Red Riots contained him and brought him down at the 26, turning the ball over on downs.

Again, South Portland needed just 58 seconds to score, this time on three plays.

Healy scrambled for 13 yards to the 13 on first down and after Frey ran for six more to the 7, Healy ran up the gut and raced into the end zone for the 7-yard TD with 3:22 to play. Healy then added a two-point conversion rush and just like that, the game was tied, 16-16, and it appeared the Red Riots had all the momentum.

But instead, the Blue Devils would have the last laugh.

Sands returned the ensuing kickoff 19 yards to the 34 and with 3:16 to go, Lewiston would run 13 plays and nearly all of the remaining time off the clock before going ahead for good.


Thomas hit Dube for seven yards on first down, but a false start set up second-and-8. Thomas then connected with Spearman for 10 yards and a first down at the 46. After Klick caught a pass for five yards, he dove and made a catch for nine more and a first down at the South Portland 40. After a false start, Thomas’ pass was deflected, but Dube caught it anyway, good for nine yards. On the next snap, Thomas found Sands for 14 yards and a first down at the 22. Thomas then twice threw incomplete, but on third-and-10, he hit Randall for exactly 10 yards and a first down at the 12. Randall ran for a yard and Thomas threw incomplete before finding Klick for six, setting up fourth-and-3 at the 5 with time winding down.

Versey opted for the field goal and Caron came on to play the hero.

The snap to Thomas was low, but he managed to place the ball and Caron booted the ball high and true and through the uprights to make it 19-16 with just 9.5 seconds showing.

“I was just going out there pretending it was a regular extra point,” said Caron. “I tried to clear my mind and picture what I wanted to do.”

“In our practices, we work on these situations,” Thomas said. “We did what we practice to get down the field and score. I have 100 percent confidence in (Michael).”

“I felt pretty good that he’d make it,” Versey added. “We know what he does every day in practice. I’m very proud of him. We spend a significant amount of time on special teams.”


The Red Riots got one final chance, starting from their 20, but after successive incompletions, Healy took off looking for a miracle, but after scampering for 20 yards, he was tackled and the contest came to an end as the Blue Devils prevailed, 19-16.

“We didn’t get down when they came back,” Caron said.

“We knew we had to keep our heads up and stay locked in,” Thomas said. “We wanted to stay together. We knew coming in (with the lead today), they’d have their backs against the wall and we wanted to keep the pressure on.”

“It doesn’t get much more stressful than that,” Versey added. “My hat is off to the Red Riots and hard they fought, how they never gave up. It was a great, competitive battle between two good football teams. We ended the half with a lead and that can make you feel good, but maybe too good. It was a unique situation. I think the kids handled it the best they could. We battled back even after they tied the score. Any other club would have sunk their heads. We drove down and got the field goal to seal the game.”

Lewiston mustered 261 yards of offense and overcame one turnover and nine penalties for 59 yards.

Thomas completed 15-of-22 passes for 180 yards. He went 8-for-11 for 70 yards on the decisive scoring drive. Thomas also ran for a touchdown and caught a pass for no yards.


Randall had three receptions for 54 yards and also rushed for 54 yards and a touchdown on 16 carries.

Klick rushed seven times for 26 yards and caught four passes for 33 yards.

Spearman also gained 26 yards on seven rushes and had two receptions for 25 yards.

Dube had three receptions for 21 yards.

South Portland gained 244 yards, turned the ball over once and was flagged twice for 15 yards.

Healy ran for 111 yards and a touchdown on 11 carries and completed three passes for 74.


Frey rushed nine times for 35 yards.

“I told the guys after the game that Lewiston made the plays they had to,” Filieo said. “Plain and simple. They made tough catches. Their quarterback made some big throws. Sometimes you have to give the other team credit for making plays. They made plays, we made plays, but they had the ball last.”

What will week three bring?

Lewiston returns home next Friday for another big showdown with a former Class B team which has moved up this year to Class A, Portland (2-0).

“This builds our confidence and will help us keep our energy up in practice next week,” Caron said.

“Getting a win is great for team morale, but no one needs to remind us we face a very tough Portland team next week and we’ll have our hands full,” Versey said. “We have a lot to learn, but hopefully, if we keep fighting, we’ll be in the mix and have a positive season.”

South Portland, meanwhile, takes to the road for the first time next Friday when it visits Sanford (1-0-1) in a key early-season Class A South test.

“Our guys know now that we’re never out of it,” said Filieo. “We’re pretty physical, but we’ve got to work on our pass coverage. There were guys who were wide open. We have to do a better job. The kids are competing and they’re young.

“I think Sanford will be a similar game. A big game. A quick turnaround. They have a really big back we’ll have to wrap up and we have to square away our pass coverage. Hopefully we’ll turn it around and get back on track.”

Sports Editor Michael Hoffer can be reached at

Comments are not available on this story.