LEWISTON — What a season it’s been for the Windham football team. And what a game it was to keep that season going.

Will Ledbetter connected with Nick Garrison for a pair of touchdowns, including the game-winner from six yards out on the second possession of overtime, and No. 1 Windham edged No. 3 Lawrence 42-35 in the B North final at Don Roux Field.

Ledbetter threw five touchdown passes and Garrison caught three of them while also returning an onside kick for a touchdown for the Eagles (9-0), who will play Marshwood, a 35-0 winner over Portland in the B South final, on Nov. 20 for the Class B championship.

Most of the season has come easily for the Eagles. Saturday did not.

“We’ve been in some tough games before,” said Ledbetter, who completed 14 of 22 passes for 234 yards and also ran for 44 yards. “But our guys really battled. Defense was great down the stretch, and that’s when you need them to be, right? The offense and defense both rose to the occasion.”

“There was a lot of grit on both sides, their kids, too,” coach Matt Perkins added. “We just battled and just made plays, kids living in the moment were able to step up and make plays when their number was called.”

It didn’t come easily because the Bulldogs (6-4) were convinced they could take Windham down — and they were determined to do it. Lawrence made two goal line stands to keep its hopes alive, and even held two leads on an Eagles team that hadn’t trailed all season.

Lawrence defensive back Andrew Trombley grimaces as he is blocked by Windham’s Tate Chork as Max Arbour runs the ball. Michael G. Seamans/Morning Sentinel

In the end, however, Windham had just a little too much.

“We’re very proud of our kids, certainly they had a great effort today,” said coach John Hersom, who got 110 rushing yards from Parker Higgins and two touchdown runs from Andrew Trombley and Maddox Santone. “We were the decided underdog, but I don’t think that fazed them at all. … We had some great leadership today on the field, just came up a little short.”

The game had a little bit of everything: big plays, momentum swings and defensive stands, none bigger than when Lawrence held on Windham’s third- and fourth-down runs from the 1-yard line in the final minute of regulation. The Bulldogs even struck first in overtime, with Santone (seven carries, 31 yards) plowing in from a yard out to put Lawrence ahead 35-28.

Windham’s response got off to a tough start when Haddon Boyle (16 carries, 75 yards) was stuffed for no gain, but Ledbetter lofted a perfect pass into the back right corner that Garrison (six catches, 77 yards) snagged for a 10-yard score. The Eagles had the ball again to start the second overtime series and after Ledbetter ran for four yards, he threw another fade pass to Garrison, who made the contested grab and came down for the score and a 42-35 Windham lead.

“He’s an unbelievable player,” Ledbetter said. “His ball skills, I think, are second to none.”

Lawrence quarterback Andrew Tromble rushes for a touchdown against Windham. Michael G. Seamans/Morning Sentinel

Lawrence, which lost Andrew Trombley at quarterback on the first overtime possession, turned the ball over on downs to end the game.

“It was really just an overall team effort,” Garrison said. “Everyone was working on both offense and defense. We just happened to come out on top.”

Garrison was at the center of regulation’s turning point. The teams were tied 21 at halftime, and Windham had the ball to start the second half but fumbled on the goal line. Instead, Lawrence got to break the tie two possessions later, with Andrew Trombley breaking through a pair of tackles en route to a 21-yard touchdown run and 28-21 advantage with 10:05 to play in the game.

The Bulldogs gambled and went with a surprise onside kick, and the ball hopped straight to Garrison, who had no one in front of him and raced for a 65-yard touchdown to tie the game at 28 with 9:56 to play.

“I was really surprised,” Garrison said. “All of a sudden the ball bounced up right to where my hands were. I caught it and just started running straight, no one was there.”

“It’s a risk. It was probably the biggest play of the entire game,” Hersom said. “I wanted to try to keep momentum, and it just didn’t work out in our favor. But I think the kids from that point on, we were on our heels a bit, but we rose to the occasion with the goal line stand.”

Windham’s passing offense was hot to start the game, as Ledbetter hit Colby Mizner (63 yards), Garrison (35) and Yeaton (39) with touchdown passes. Showcasing the resilience that would be on display later, Lawrence answered each score with another, getting an 11-yard run from Trent Julia, a 27-yard run from Andrew Trombley and finally a 1-yard run from Santone with 58 seconds left in the half.

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