Winslow’s Ben Dorval carries the ball past Waterville’s Nicholas Wildhaber on Saturday in Winslow. Photo by Jennifer Bechard

WINSLOW — The afternoon didn’t start well for the Winslow football team. Not after the Black Raiders fumbled the opening kickoff and then saw Waterville’s Anthony Singh run in the game’s first score moments later.

“We didn’t plan on that,” Winslow coach Mike Siviski said.

The Black Raiders couldn’t have planned what happened afterward any better. Winslow came back, getting two touchdown passes and a blocked punt for another score en route to a 27-point first quarter, then pulled away from there for a 54-13 victory over the rival Purple Panthers in the annual Battle of the Bridge on Saturday.

“The kids hung in and came back, so that was good,” Siviski said. “We diversified some things this week, and we were working hard on fundamentals and, hopefully, carrying what we do on the practice field onto the game field. … We’re obviously pleased with the result.”

Waterville quarterback Jack Thompson looks to pass while Winslow’s Brandon Moore chases him Saturday in Winslow. Photo by Jennifer Bechard

There wasn’t much reason not to be. Winslow’s powerful ground game, led by Ben Dorval (10 carries, 89 yards, two touchdowns) and Alex Demers (nine carries, 66 yards, touchdown), overwhelmed the Waterville front to totals of 296 yards on 35 carries. The Black Raiders even withstood an injury to Isaiah Goldsmith, with Rob Clarke stepping into a bigger role and carrying four times for 48 yards.

“We always pride ourselves on the next person up. Everyone’s always ready,” Dorval said. “We did everything right. We just executed, the line did amazing. The coaches really set us up for success and we just executed like we’re supposed to.”

The Purple Panthers struck first, however, stripping returner Dacota Waldie on the opening kickoff and setting themselves up with a short field, an opportunity they cashed in on when Singh (10 carries, 73 yards) scooted in from 10 yards out for a 7-0 lead.

Winslow answered on the next series, with Colby Pomeroy (9-of-11, 95 yards, two touchdowns) finding Marek Widerynski (four catches, 53 yards, two touchdowns) for a 33-yard touchdown pass to tie the game at 7. It was then the Black Raiders’ turn to make a play on special teams, with Bryce Gunzinger hitting a short kickoff that Winslow recovered inside the Waterville 35-yard line.

“I thought that Bryce Gunzinger did a nice job with placement on the kickoff. We planned that,” Siviski said. “A lot of kids contributed.”

Winslow quickly capitalized, with Pomeroy finding Widerynski again for an 18-yard touchdown pass and a 13-7 lead.

“It felt like at the beginning of the first quarter, the first half of the first quarter, we did a real nice job,” Waterville coach Matt Gilley said. “Then a bonehead mistake, and you can’t do that against Winslow. … You could see a few of our inexperienced guys, the wind came out of their sails. You’ve got to have no memory whatsoever.”

Given momentum, Winslow didn’t give it up. Dorval ran in for an 8-yard score and a 20-7 lead with 2:09 left in the first quarter, and bad went to worse for Waterville when Jacob Bisson broke through and blocked a punt on the next series, recovering in the end zone for a 27-7 lead with less than a second remaining in the quarter.

Winslow’s assistant coach Wes Littlefield gives a high five to Garrett Choate during a timeout against Waterville on Saturday in Winslow. Photo by Jennifer Bechard

Waterville closed the gap on a 4-yard run by Trafton Gilbert (13 carries, 67 yards), but Winslow ran wild the rest of the quarter, getting a 24-yard run for a score from Dorval and then a 2-yard run by Demers for a 41-13 halftime lead.

“You know right where the ball’s coming. If your linebackers aren’t making the reads quickly and filling, you’re in trouble,” Gilley said. “We left some seams, they found a few seams a couple of times, and that’s all it takes. … They find seams as well as anybody, and they run to daylight. We’ve got to do a better job of gap responsibility.”

Winslow built on the lead in the second half with a Pomeroy 1-yard keeper and an 18-yard run by Gunzinger, who ran seven times for 73 yards after halftime. The win was an impressive rebound from last week’s loss to Gardiner, in which mistakes throughout doomed the Black Raiders.

“It feels a lot better, because we won this game, and last week … we beat ourselves,” Dorval said. “It feels good, we’re all a lot happier now. We can sort of shake it all off and go into MDI next week.”

Drew Bonifant — 621-5638

[email protected]

Twitter: @dbonifantMTM

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