BANGOR, Maine — The Bangor High School football team shook off a sluggish start to make a fairly auspicious debut at the new-look Cameron Stadium on Saturday afternoon, scoring the game’s final 26 points to earn a 40-13 Class A victory over Deering of Portland.
Bangor, now 2-1, hosts Portland for homecoming next Saturday afternoon, while Deering dips to 0-3.
This game was part Bangor winning the turnover battle and part winning the war of attrition, as Deering dressed just 21 players for the game.
The turnover battle was the more challenging test, as Bangor fumbled the ball away on its first two possessions — both inside the Deering 20 — and held a 14-7 halftime lead despite three turnovers overall as well as coming up short on fourth-and-goal from the 1.
“The ball juggled around there a little bit,” said Bangor senior Logan Lanham, “but before football all the time we say ‘We’re all as one,’ and today that really showed because we all came together and we didn’t stop. We battled some adversity and got through it.”
Lanham had a lot to do with that successful battle as he rushed for 180 yards and two touchdowns on 35 carries, with 25 rushes for 99 yards and two touchdowns in the first half alone.
Lanham also caught a 50-yard touchdown pass from Xavier Lewis early in the fourth quarter to help the Rams pull away.
“I feel pretty good,” said Lanham after his workhorse afternoon in front of a home crowd that was sitting in the stadium’s brand new bleachers. “I want the ball. I like the ball a lot. When I have it, it’s the best thing in the world for me. I love football and I love having the ball.”
And while Bangor cleaned up its turnover act after intermission, Deering’s spread and wildcat offensive formations were victimized by two pass interceptions and a lost fumble during the second half to go with a muffed kickoff return in the stiff breeze that Bangor linebacker Adam Allen recovered to set up a touchdown.
“We wanted to stop the pass, contain the quarterback and execute our assignments properly,” said Allen. “I feel like we did well, the score proved it. There were a few mental mistakes, but not many and I feel like we stepped up and played our best ball.”
Still, this was a 14-13 game midway through the third quarter after a 79-yard Deering drive with the second-half kickoff produced a 15-yard touchdown pass from Max Chabot to Dominick Bernard.
The extra-point kick was blocked, but Deering soon got the ball back with a chance to take the lead after Bangor was stuffed for no gain on fourth-and-1 from the Deering 19.
Two plays later, the game took a decisive turn when Bangor sophomore linebacker Ben Crichton read a Chabot pass over the middle perfectly, made the interception at the 25 and raced to the end zone to extend the Rams’ lead to 21-13 with 6:25 left in the quarter.
“I was just staying back in my coverage, staying flat, and I read the quarterback’s eyes and he threw it right to me,” said Crichton. “We needed to make something happen.”
Bangor then stopped Deering on fourth-and-2 near midfield, and one play later Lewis raced up the middle 37 yards for the Rams’ second touchdown in a 2-minute, 18-second span to increase the lead to 28-13.
An interception by Bangor’s James Deane on Deering’s next possession led to Lewis passing to Lanham in the right flat on third-and-8 from midfield. Lanham made the reception and found no one behind him as he raced to the end zone to give the Rams a 34-13 cushion with 10:23 left in the game.
Deering misplayed the ensuing kickoff and Allen recovered the loose ball at the 40. Lanham made quick work of the remaining distance, cutting back to his left for 37 yards on first down and powering into the end zone on the next play for Bangor’s final touchdown with 9:59 to go.
“We just established as a team that we wanted to play four quarters and we knew we were better than that team and we were going to win the game,” said Allen.
Sophomore fullback Dane Johnson added 53 yards on 12 rushing attempts for Bangor, which outgained Deering 318-224 in total yardage.
Anthony Pruitt rushed 13 times for 70 yards for Deering, while Chabot completed 7 of 16 passes for 58 yards with three interceptions.
Bangor fumbled away its first two possessions of the contest, but its early field-position advantage led to the game’s first touchdown on its third opportunity as Lewis pitched late to Lanham on an option play for an 18-yard scoring run to give the Rams a 6-0 lead with five seconds left in the first quarter.
Deering made the most of its first play with the wind at its back, as Mike Marzilli threw a 74-yard halfback option pass over the defense to Ricardo Delgardo, who raced untouched into the end zone and then kicked the extra point to give his team a 7-6 lead 16 seconds into the second quarter.
A bad Deering punt snap on a fourth-and-36 play gave Bangor possession inside the 20 later in the period, and while the Rams lost the ball on downs at the 1 the defense held to set up another short field.
This time Bangor cashed in, driving 31 yards in five plays with Lanham rushing the final 10 yards and Johnson adding the two-point conversion run to give the Rams a 14-7 lead with 1:09 left until halftime.