Oxford Hills’ Ashton Child (29) grabs the jersey of Portland’s Zachary Elowitch as Vikings defenders Caden Truman (32), Austin Doughty (74) and Cole Dunham (43) close in during the Class A North final Friday at Fitzpatrick Stadium in Portland. (Brewster Burns photo)

PORTLAND — Oxford Hills was a mere foot or two away from doing to Portland what the Bulldogs had done to it all night long. And then, suddenly, the Vikings’ season was over.

Portland’s Jonah Green forced and recovered a fumble at his own 5-yard line in overtime to send No. 1 Portland to the Class A North championship with a 21-14 victory over No. 2 Oxford Hills at a rainy Fitzpatrick Stadium on Friday night.

The Bulldogs (9-1) won their fifth regional title in the last six years and will face the winner of Saturday’s A South final between Scarborough and Thornton Academy. Oxford Hills, playing in its first regional final since 2000, ends the season at 8-2.

“It’s a character win,” Portland coach Jim Hartman said. “Our defense, down on the 1 and holding on … You’re going threw a yo-yo here, up and down. But, you know, it’s the next play, stay positive, don’t quit and good things will happen.”

By rule, each team starts at the 10-yard line and gets four plays to score in overtime. Portland took the ball first and took the lead on a 7-yard run up the middle by Zack Elowitch (27 carries, 219 yards, two TDs).

Oxford Hills QB Colton Carson (19 carries, 112 yards) called his own number on the Vikings’ first play and was knocked out of bounds inside the 1-yard-line. Lining up on second down, the Vikings were flagged for a false start, pushing them back just outside the 5.

On the next snap, Carson and a running back appeared to collide in the backfield, and Green was there to strip the ball and recover it to set off a wild celebration on the Portland sideline.

“To the kids’ credit, they’re just trying to make a play in there,” Oxford Hills coach Mark Soehren said. “We had an opportunity to get in there and we just didn’t. I think we played really well. I think they had two long runs and did a good job in overtime. I told the kids I’m proud of them and they had a hell of a run.”

Portland never led until overtime, but quickly snatched the lead away from the Vikings both times they took it.

Oxford Hills broke a scoreless tie with it first drive of the second quarter, marching 79 yards on eight plays. A 19-yard completion from Carson to Alex Turner got the Vikings going, then a 30-yard run by Carson pushed them to Portland’s 21.

A 10-yard run by Janek Luksza made it first-and-goal. After a Carson incompletion, he pitched it to Luksza, who ran around the right side and, with a great second effort, reached the pylon for a 9-yard touchdown that, after his extra point kick, made it 7-0 with 7:40 left in the half.

Portland went three-and-out on its next series and gave the Vikings good field position, their own 43, after the punt. But Ben Stasium intercepted Carson’s deep pass on third-and-14 at Portland’s 32.

An offensive pass interference penalty on the Bulldogs pushed them back to their 18. On the next play, Elowitch ran up the middle and pulled away at midfield for an 82-yard touchdown run that tied it 7-7 with 3:02 to go until halftime.

“A big play like that just really changes the momentum,” Elowitch said. “I get the handoff, I see the defensive tackle step up, Koa (Farnsworth) gets a great block, I see a couple of guys in front of me, I make a move and see open field and the first thing that comes to my head is last game at Oxford Hills when I got caught from behind, and I’m just thinking I will not get caught from behind.”

The rain arrived in time for the second half, which may have aided in Elowitch fumbling at his own 34, which the Vikings recovered. They couldn’t capitalize, though, losing 8 yards in three plays and punting.

Portland dug out from its own 10 to the Vikings’ 45 with Elowitch mostly carrying the football. On second-and-5 from the Viking 45, the Bulldogs had Elowitch throw a halfback option. Hit as he threw by Parker LaFrance, Elowitch’s pass fluttered into the arms of Turner, who returned it to Portland’s 45.

This time, the Vikings cashed in on the turnover, thanks in large part to a 39-yard run by Carson to move the chains on third-and-29. Two plays later, he connected with a wide open Turner on a 25-yard touchdown pass that made it 14-7 Vikings with 9:56 left in regulation.

Portland responded quickly again. This time, two plays into its next possession, on a 63-yard TD run on, like Elowitch’s TD run, a trap play up the gut by Jamal Moriba.

Oxford Hills came closest to breaking the tie in regulation, driving to Portland’s 25 with 1:32 left. Facing fourth-and-7, they elected to have Luksza try a field goal from 42 yards out in the rain and wind, but it was short.

Oxford Hills’ coach Mark Soehren hugs senior Austin Doughty after the Vikings’ loss to Portland in the Class A North final at Fitzpatrick Stadium. (Brewster Burns photo)Portland’s Zachary Elowitch runs into the end zone in overtime for what turned out to be the winning touchdown during the Class A North final at Fitzpatrick Stadium. (Brewster Burns photo)

Portland’s Zachary Elowitch jumps through a hole in the Oxford Hills defense during the Class A North final Friday at Fitzpatrick Stadium in Portland. (Brewster Burns photo)

Oxford Hills’ Alex Turner eludes Portland’s Benjamin Stasium to make a touchown catch in the end zone Friday during the Class A North football final at Fitzpatrick Stadium. (Ben McCanna/Portland Press Herald) Oxford Hills quarterback Colton Carson runs the ball Friday during the Class A North football final against Portland at Fitzpatrick Stadium. (Ben McCanna/Portland Press Herald)

Portlan’s Ryan Howell, center, and Jamal Moriba, right, run toward the sideline to greet Portland students after beating Oxford Hills in the Class A North final at Fitzpatrick Stadium. (Brewster Burns photo)

Oxford Hills JJ Worster skips away from Portland linebacker Geovani Mbunji after a long pass reception early in the second half of the Class A North final at Fitzpatrick Stadium. (Brewster Burns photo)Oxford Hills quarterback Colton Carson steps away from Portland’s Grant Jacobson during the second half of the Class A North final at Fitzpatrick Stadium. (Brewster Burns photo)Oxford Hills cornerback Alex Turner (hidden) causes Portland running back Zachary Elowitch to fumble the ball. Oxford Hills recovered. (Brewster Burns photo)Oxford Hills wide receiver Alex Turner pulls in catch for a reception guarded by Portland’s Benjamin Stassium during the Class A North final at Fitzpatrick Stadium. (Brewster Burns photo)A long pass sails just out of Oxford Hills’ Mike Bonang’s reach during the Class A North final at Fitzpatrick Stadium. (Brewster Burns photo)

Oxford Hills’ Parker LaFrance get ahold of the facemask of Portland’s Ryan Cabral during the Class A North final Friday at Fitzpatrick Stadium in Portland. (Brewster Burns photo)

Portland’s Zachary Elowitch, center, climbs the beacher railing to meet the student fan section alongside his teammates after the Bulldogs beat Oxford Hills to win the Class A final on Friday at Fitzpatrick Stadium. (Ben McCanna/Portland Press Herald) Portland’s Zachary Elowitch looks for breathing room as Oxford Hills’ defense closes in Friday during the Class A North final at Fitzpatrick Stadium in Portland. (Ben McCanna/Portland Press Herald) Portland’s Zachary Elowitch eludes a tackle by Oxford Hills’ Cole Dunham on Friday during the Class A North final at Fitzpatrick Stadium in Portland. (Ben McCanna/Portland Press Herald) Portland’s Benjamin Stasium makes a one-handed interception deep in Oxford Hills territor on Friday during the Class A North final at Fitzpatrick Stadium in Portland. (Ben McCanna/Portland Press Herald)Oxford Hills quarterback Colton Carson’s run is cut short by Portland’s Zachary Elowitch on Friday during the Class A North final at Fitzpatrick Stadium in Portland. (Ben McCanna/Portland Press Herald) Oxford Hills cornerback Alex Turner goes up to bat the ball away from Portland’s Grant Jacobson during the Class A North final Friday at Fitzpatrick Stadium in Portland. (Brewster Burns photo)Oxford Hills’ Janek Luksza fends off Portland’s Cameron Connolly on Friday during the Class A North final at Fitzpatrick Stadium in Portland. (Ben McCanna/Portland Press Herald)


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