The high school football rivalry between Lewiston High School and Edward Little High School of Auburn runs deep, but the two Maine communities came together on Wednesday night for the "Battle of the Bridge."
The annual tradition was postponed from Friday, understandably, after a horrific mass shooting left 18 dead and forced both communities into lockdown for two days. As you can imagine, this week's rescheduled matchup was about much more than football, and members of the New England Patriots organization wanted to be there in spirit.
Ahead of the game, chairman and CEO Robert Kraft, quarterback Mac Jones, and retired legend Rob Gronkowski reached out to show their support.
"Tonight, two communities come together to celebrate a century-old tradition for the Battle of the Bridge," Kraft said in a video sent to Lewiston's athletic department.
"Despite heavy hearts, football has always brought communities together, and never has that been more important than right now. For all who are attending the game tonight, we applaud you for supporting one another, and for all those playing in the game tonight, you're already champions. Please know that the New England Patriots are all rooting for you. We love you and you have our compassion."
Though the shooting took place at a bowling alley and bar in Lewiston, residents in both Lewiston and Auburn lost family and friends.
This game, bringing everyone together, was something both communities needed.
"I understand that the Twin Cities are coming together tonight for the Battle of the Bridge," Jones said in his shoutout. "I hope everyone has a great game and my thoughts and prayers are with everybody."
A moment of silence was held before the game, as all 18 victims were honored by name.
New England native and six-time Grammy Award winner James Taylor sang an acoustic rendition of the national anthem, adding to the emotional atmosphere.
Ultimately, Lewiston defeated the Edward Little 34-18, but the win was about much more than bragging rights.
"I've been thinking about everyone in Lewiston, Maine and I'm sending my love," Gronkowski said in hit shoutout.
"We all know you guys are rivals, and it's going to be a huge game, and I want to say you guys are amazing sticking together to stay strong through these tough times."