PARIS — Oxford Hills earned its first trip to a state championship game in 22 years by handling Bonny Eagle 34-7 in the Class A semifinals Saturday at Gouin Athletic Complex.

Quarterback Eli Soehren threw four touchdown passes and had a long touchdown run for the Vikings, while the defense intercepted two passes in the first half and forced the Scots (6-4) to turn the ball over on downs on all of their second-half possessions.

“They’re just good,” Bonny Eagle coach Kevin Cooper said. “We came here twice, and came here twice thinking we had a chance to win, and just couldn’t get it done, and, really, the biggest reason is how good Oxford Hills is.”

The second-seeded Vikings also defeated the third-seeded Scots 19-6 on Sept. 24 in Paris.

Oxford Hills (8-1), the second seed in Class A, will face top-seeded Thornton Academy, which defeated Scarborough 28-12 in Saturday’s other semifinal, next Saturday at Fitzpatrick Stadium in Portland.

“It’s such an amazing feeling,” Vikings senior Dakota Grassi said.

The only other time Oxford Hills played in a state championship game was in 1999, when the Vikings lost to South Portland 24-10.

“It’s huge,” Oxford Hills coach Mark Soehren said. “It’s an incredible feeling. I told the kids, I don’t want to get too emotional, we’ve still got a game to play, but this has always been the goal, right, to get to the state championship.

“You’ve got to beat the defending state champion to get there.”

Oxford Hills’ Dakota Grassi scores a touchdown guarded by Bonny Eagle’s Mason Ryan during their game at the Gouin Athletic Complex in Paris on Saturday. Brewster Burns photo

Bonny Eagle won the most recent Class A state championship in 2019, and the Vikings left little doubt who the better team is in 2021.

Oxford Hills opened Saturday’s semifinal with a 10-play drive that covered 68 yards. The Vikings called mostly runs and short passes until the eighth play when Eli Soehren threw a 27-yard pass that Teigan Pelletier caught at the goal line, but he was ruled out of bounds.

Two plays later, on third-and-9, Soehren connected with Grassi for a 26-yard touchdown pass, giving the Vikings a 7-0 lead.

Oxford Hills’ Zachary Louvat knocked down a pass by Scots QB Terrell Edwards on third down, forcing a three-and-out on Bonny Eagle’s first drive.

Nine plays into the Vikings’ next possession, Soehren threw a 10-yard touchdown pass to Wyatt Knightly. Soehren’s second PAT put Oxford Hills up 14-0 with 2:07 left in the first quarter.

The Scots then drove 60 yards on 13 plays for their only score. Louvat sacked Edwards on the second play of the drive, but on fourth down two plays later, Aidan Walcott, who didn’t play in the teams’ first meeting, ran for a first down to keep the drive alive.

Zac Oja finished that drive with a 4-yard touchdown run that cut the Vikings lead to 14-7 with 7:28 remaining in the second quarter.

Two minutes after Oja’s touchdown, the Vikings added to their lead when, on third-and-9, Soehren rolled out right, found a hole and ran up the sideline for a 46-yard touchdown that made it 20-7.

“Eli Soehren just keeps so many plays alive,” Cooper said. “Even when it looks like you have him, even when it looks like you have the play defended, he somehow comes out and finds guys and makes plays.”

Soehren completed 15 of 23 passes for 176 yards and four touchdowns, and ran for 156 yards on 21 carries.

Interceptions by Grassi and Knightly ended the Scots’ next two drives.

“I spoke to my coach about how we’re going to stop No. 2 (Walcott), because he’s pretty quick, and we don’t normally see that,” Grassi said. “So we talked for a quick second and made a game plan, and right after that, got that pick.”

Knightly’s interception came in the final 20 seconds of the half after Bonny Eagle drove to the Vikings’ 20-yard line.

Bonny Eagle turned the ball over on downs on all three of its second-half drives. For the second time in two meetings, the Vikings held the Scots to one score.

“That’s a good defense,” Mark Soehren said. “We are big, and we are fast, and we have size.”

Oxford Hills held Bonny Eagle to 161 yards total offense (117 yards rushing, 44 yards passing).

The Vikings’ offense added two more touchdowns, both touchdown passes by Eli Soehren to Matthew Doucette — a 16-yarder in the third quarter and a 5-yarder in the fourth.

Soehren threw touchdowns to three different receivers and completed passes to a handful of others.

“It’s unbelievable,” Eli Soehren said. “I can’t believe how many targets I can have in a game. I can count on anyone I throw to.”

This is the third straight postseason that the Vikings have reached the semifinal game — whether it be an A North regional final in 2018, or, like Saturday, a Class A semifinal in 2019 that ended in a loss to Thornton.

Bonny Eagle, meanwhile, is accustomed to reaching the state title game, and has won seven state championships since 2004.

Following Saturday’s loss, Cooper spent a few minutes hugging seniors, including Oja, Thomas Horton and Nik Klein.

“Our kids played hard all the way through, and, obviously, coming back off a non-playing year last year, our seniors gave everything that they could,” Cooper said. “So I’m proud of our team, I really like coaching them. It’s too bad that we have to end here with a loss.”

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