WINTHROP — The Winthrop/Monmouth co-operative football team needed a big play early, another one late and a few in between Friday night against Dirigo to extend its longest winning streak in three years.
If the Ramblers hadn’t caught the attention of the rest of Western D Campbell Conference by now, they certainly did after a tough 28-14 victory over Dirigo before a modest crowd at Maxwell Field.
Zack Phinney returned the opening kickoff 79 yards for a touchdown, Jared Hanson threw a pair of scoring strikes to Brandon Goff and Zach Glazier capped a wild night of scoring with a 72-yard rush midway through the fourth quarter to power the resurgent Ramblers (3-0).
“We really stepped up,” said Goff, a senior at Monmouth. “This was a big moment for us. This team hasn’t done well against Dirigo recently.”
The Ramblers did just fine Friday, overcoming an early 14-8 deficit to win a third consecutive game for the first time since it started the 2010 campaign 6-0.
Glazier led the charge, rushing for a game-high 137 yards on 14 carries.
His 72-yard burst through the line on an inside counter play with 7 minutes, 11 seconds left in the fourth quarter squashed a potential Dirigo comeback.
“There was a little hole there and I waited half a second,” Glazier said. “Then I got right through and there was no safety there, so I was gone. It felt awesome. We needed this game.”
Winthrop/Monmouth got things rolling early when Phinney found a seam on the opening kickoff and raced 79 yards for a tone-setting score. The Ramblers converted the two-point conversion to grab an 8-0 lead just 20 seconds into the contest.
“That got us fired up,” said junior Mario Meucci, who had two sacks and three tackles for a loss.
Dirigo (1-2), which had success with its ground game, bounced back and pulled even on its first possession, when Tyler Frost rushed for a 2-yard touchdown to cap a 10-play, 65-yard drive.
The Cougars went ahead midway through the second when Brett Beauchesne rushed for a 5-yard touchdown with 6:31 left in the quarter.
“We knew we needed to come up with some big plays,” Goff said. “We had a long way to go.”
The Ramblers did just that, with Hanson and Goff hooking up for a pair of touchdown strikes in the final minute of the second quarter.
The first score came on a slant with 54.2 seconds left in the half.
“I saw the free safety cutting over,” Goff said, “and he did it a couple of times. He was too far left so I knew we could hit it.”
The Ramblers did and, after again converting a two-point conversion, grabbed 16-14 lead.
Dirigo quarterback Riley Robinson threw an interception on the ensuing possession, and Winthrop capitalized.
With 32 seconds left in the quarter, Hanson again connected with Goff on another slant for another touchdown, this one from 38 yards out.
“Jared stepping up for us was the momentum we needed,” Winthrop/Monmouth coach Joel Stoneton said.
Added Dirigo coach Dave Crutchfield: “We should have run out the clock there. We got a little greedy.”
Dirigo threatened in the second half, but the Winthrop defense held. Glazier then put the game away with his touchdown run.
Robinson led Dirigo with 54 rushing yards on 11 carries. He also threw for 63 yards. Heath Hersom rushed for a team-high 86 yards for the Cougars as well.
Bill Stewart — 621-5640