HAMPDEN — Logan Steward spent much of Friday evening watching backfield mate Nick Stevens tear through the Winslow High School defense for 227 rushing yards and four touchdowns.
But when the Hampden Academy sophomore finally got one last chance to carry the football, his 4-yard gain on a errant field-goal attempt with a minute to play set up the winning touchdown as the Broncos salvaged a 35-28 victory over Winslow in a Class B clash at the Weatherbee Complex.
Hampden took possession at the Black Raiders’ 27 with 2:44 remaining after a 9-yard Winslow punt. Stevens ran for 14 yards on the next play, but from there the Winslow defense stiffened, leaving Hampden with fourth-and-2 from the 5.
Hampden opted to go for the field goal, but when the snap went awry, Steward — the kicker — grabbed the loose ball and ran to the 1 for a first down.
“I just picked it up and ran it as fast as I could toward the sideline,” said Steward. “Their guy popped me but I got the first down.”
Fullback Josh McKechnie powered into the end zone on the next play to snap a 28-28 tie and give Hampden its only lead of the night with 51.9 seconds left.
“Logan has really improved as our kicker,” said Hampden coach McCluskey, “but when that ball went over, he picked it up and made one heck of an effort and almost scored and got us a big first down. That was obviously the play of the game.”
The win was even more satisfying for the 2-1 Broncos because they overcame the absence of first-string quarterback Jon Haws and his brother Matt, both two-way starters who were attending a family funeral.
Sophomore Brian Fickett replaced Jon Haws at quarterback, and while he attempted just five passes he engineered a Hampden offense that generated 382 total yards, 366 on the ground.
“All season long he’s looked good backing up Jon,” said McCluskey, “and this week he stepped right up when we needed him. We cut down our package a little, but he was cool and calm under pressure. You couldn’t ask for anything more from a sophomore.”
Fickett’s job was made easier by the big-play work of Stevens, a junior who averaged 13.4 yards on 17 carries and scored on runs of 15, 26, 27 and 80 yards.
“There was very good blocking tonight, and once I rounded the corner there was that one last guy and I just felt like I could beat him,” said Stevens.
Winslow also had considerable rushing success, with Joseph Hopkins gaining 185 yards on 21 carries and John McCabe adding 90 yards on 14 attempts. The Black Raiders finished with 340 rushing yards.
Kris Smith rushed for one touchdown and passed for a second score as Winslow moved out to a 14-7 halftime lead.
Winslow (0-3) took a 7-0 lead on a 16-yard option run by Smith with 8:55 left in the second quarter.
Hampden immediately countered on Stevens’ 15-yard scoring run, but Winslow regained the lead on a 16-yard pass over the middle from Smith to Vernon with 42.2 seconds left in the first half.
“We had our heads down at the half thinking we didn’t know what we were going to do, but we just went out there and came back,” said Stevens.
Stevens had a lot to do with that comeback, initially by tying the game with a 26-yard run down the left sideline less than two minutes into the third quarter. That came one play after Cody Miller took a double handoff for a 33-yard gain.
Winslow regained the lead with 9:02 left in the third period on a 48-yard run by Hopkins, only to have Hampden counter with an eight-play drive capped off by Stevens’ 27-yard scoring run behind a Simon Burditt block with 5:17 to go in the period.
McCabe scored from 11 yards out to gave the Black Raiders their fourth lead of the night at 28-21, and the Black Raiders threatened again early in the fourth quarter, driving to the Hampden 20 before being stopped short on fourth-and-1.
One play later, Stevens ripped off his longest run of the night, a sweep down the right sideline 80 yards for the tying touchdown.
“All I remember was getting the ball and getting to the outside, cutting up through the hole and realizing there was one guy left,” said Stevens. “I knew I could beat him so I stuck it out there and turned it on.”
Winslow (0-3) 0 14 14 0—28
Hampden (2-1) 0 7 14 14—35
W-Smith 16 run (MacDonald kick)
H-Stearns 15 run (Steward kick)
W-Vernon 16 pass from Smith (MacDonald kick)
H-Stevens 26 run (Steward kick)
W-Hopkins 48 run (MacDonald kick)
H-Stevens 27 run (Steward kick)
W-McCabe 6 run (MacDonald kick)
H-Stevens 80 run (Steward kick)
H-McKechnie 1 run (Steward kick)