WINSLOW — Last year, Dirigo left Poulin Field with a crushing one-point overtime loss because the bounces didn’t go its way.
The Cougars got the bounces Saturday, and Brett Whittemore and Spencer Trenoweth turned them into big plays that made the difference in a see-saw 32-21 win over Winslow.
Whittemore threw for 143 yards and three touchdowns and rushed for another while Trenoweth piled up 239 total yards (173 rushing, 66 receiving) and two touchdowns as the Cougars rallied to victory for the second time in as many weeks.
“We just needed to get the momentum back on our side because we kind of lost it after halftime,” said Whittemore, who completed seven of 10 pass attempts. “Once we got it back, we were rolling again.”
Dirigo shifted momentum in its favor in each half with two big fumble recoveries. Zach White recovered the one that set up the game-winning touchdown.
That score came when the right-handed Whittemore rolled left, threw across his body on the run and found Trenoweth in the left flat. Trenoweth scampered down the sideline for the 30-yard touchdown that put the Cougars in front for good 22 seconds into the fourth quarter, 26-21,
“Brett’s release is a little different. It’s a baseball release or something,” Dirigo coach Dave Crutchfield said. “I told him before the game to just throw the ball, throw it hard. Don’t try to lay it in there. He took the advice and did a great job.”
“The line makes it easy for me,” Whittemore said. “When they don’t let people through, it makes it real easy. We have a great line. That’s the key for the run and the pass.”
Winlsow’s offensive line had the upper hand early, leading a 70-yard march on 10 plays on its first possession to take a 7-0 lead on a 19-yard run by Dylan Hapworth (six carries, 82 yards).
Dirigo (2-0) answered immediately with a long drive of its own (12 plays, 65 yards), capped by Whittemore’s 1-yard sneak on fourth down to pull within 7-6.
The Black Raiders (1-1) caught a break on their next offensive series as a short punt hit a Dirigo player and was covered by Winslow’s Sean Cote at his own 45.
With the help of a pass interference penalty, the Raiders drove to the Dirigo 3. On first and goal, Zack Guptill (17 carries, 80 yards, two TDs) got hit just before reaching the goal line and fumbled. Zach Demars recovered it in the end zone to give the Cougars the ball at their own 20.
“Last year they fumbled down there and they got it and ended up winning the game,” Crutchfield said, referring to a Hapworth fumble in overtime which Winslow recovered in the end zone for the game-winning touchdown. “This year, we got it and ended up winning.”
Trenoweth quickly made the turnover a 12-point swing, outracing the Black Raiders on an 80-yard touchdown run for a 12-6 lead.
“I got the ball and the line just… a truck could have driven through that hole,” Trenoweth said. “They get major credit today.”
Winslow turned the ball over on downs at Dirigo’s 21 with 1:07 to go in the half. Rather than run the clock out, Whittemore went to the air, finding Nick Young behind the defense for a 60-yard touchdown and an 18-7 lead at halftime.
Big runs by Joe Hopkins (22 carries, 137 yards) and Hapworth on Winslow’s first two possessions of the second half set up touchdown runs by Guptill that gave the Black Raiders a 21-18 lead midway through the third. But White’s fumble recovery ended what had been a disheartening quarter on an up note for the Cougars.
Winslow went three-and-out after Whittemore’s second TD pass put the Cougars in front. Dirigo then went on a clock-killing 13-play drive to seal it when Whittemore, on fourth and 15 from the Winslow 17, hooked up with Nelson Pepin for his third touchdown pass of the day with 3:40 remaining.
“It’s frustrating,” Hopkins said of the loss. “Thankfully, it’s still early. I know definitely with the kids we have this isn’t the end for us.”