WINTHROP — Bennett Brooks returned just in time to rescue Winthrop/Monmouth on Friday night.

The senior wide receiver, sidelined for week ago by injury, hauled in a 44-yard touchdown reception from quarterback Matt Ingram and lifted the Ramblers to a 14-6 Campbell Conference Class D win over Dirigo at Maxwell Field.

“I just had to run as fast as I can,” Brooks said of the winning catch along the left sideline, which was a play designed to pull defenders out to the more heavily-trafficked right side of the Rambler offense and leave him in one-on-one coverage. “That’s how they played most of the game. There were only a few instances of double coverage, and I really have to give a lot of credit to Matt and the other receivers for drawing away the other defenders. They set me up to be in position.”

On a night where Winthrop/Monmouth’s offense could best be described as fits and starts, the two senior leaders came through when they were needed most to help the Ramblers remain unbeaten at 3-0.

“It was difficult tonight, but you’ve just got to stay with it,” said Ingram. “You can’t give up or else you’re not going to have a shot. It’s just about forgetting about everything and staying focused and staying with it.”

“It took Matt a while to get relaxed,” Winthrop/Monmouth head coach Dave St. Hilaire said. “He struggled, but he made the plays at the end when we needed him.”

The Winthrop/Monmouth defense gave its offense a chance to grab the victory at the end. A 73-yard Dirigo drive midway through the fourth quarter ended when Jack Vickerson recovered a fumble at the Rambler 12-yard line. Winthrop/Monmouth’s ensuing drive stalled out quickly, and Dirigo went back on the attack to try and break the 6-6 tie. But Luke Lueders’ pass on third down from his own 30-yard line was intercepted by Nate Scott with 55 seconds remaining, setting the stage for the game-winning score.

On second down Ingram found Brooks for just the second time all night, picking up 9 yards. Alec Brown (84 yards rushing, one touchdown) got three hard-fought yards up the middle for the first down. On the next play from scrimmage, Ingram threw a screen pass to Brown for no gain.

Following a timeout with 23.8 seconds remaining, Ingram went deep to Brooks on a go route that provided the winning score. Ingram then completed another pass to Brooks for the two-point conversion.

After missing last week’s win, Brooks found a little extra satisfaction in this win.

“I missed it a lot. It’s my senior year, and it’s hard to miss any games,” Brooks said. “It’s already a short season, so it was just great to be back on the field. It’s a big win.”

The first half didn’t go Winthrop/Monmouth’s way at all, and the Ramblers trailed 6-0 at halftime on a Cooper Chiasson 6-yard touchdown run for Dirigo (1-1) in the second quarter.

A promising opening drive that stalled on a fourth-and-goal incompletion on their very first possession, the Ramblers went three-and-out on their final four possessions of the first half. Ingram himself completed three of his first four passes on the night on that opening drive before throwing incomplete on his next nine attempts.

In the third quarter, though, the Ramblers got behind the wheel of “The Bus,” the popular Brown’s nickname, and he tore through the Cougar defense with runs of 13, 16 and final 2 yards to tie the game at 6-6 with 6:50 remaining in the third quarter.

“We made plays when we needed to at the end,” St. Hilaire said, “but we didn’t do much in between. … I told the kids, we’ll just keep working hard to get better.”

Travis Barrett — 621-5621

[email protected]

Twitter: @TBarrettGWC

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