PARIS — Oxford Hills’ defense bent a few times but never broke during Monday’s Class A North semifinal against Windham at Gouin Athletic Complex.

Even a blocked punt that put the Eagles in good position to at least tie the game in the closing minutes didn’t break the Vikings.

Carter Wyman’s interception preserved Oxford Hills’ lead and secured a 6-0 shutout victory over Windham in a Class A North semifinal at Gouin Athletic Complex.

“They had run it (the play) a few times, and I was just ready for it,” Wyman said. “It was kind of more of a muscle memory type of thing, just waiting for it to happen. And as soon as I saw (the receiver) stop, I just jumped in front of it.”

The second-seeded Vikings (8-2) advance to face No. 1 Portland (9-0) in the regional final later this week at Fitzpatrick Stadium.

Oxford Hills, facing fourth-and-9 from the Windham 36, elected to punt and force the third-seeded Eagles (5-5) to drive from deep in their own end of the field in about two minutes. Considering the way the Vikings’ defense played Monday, it was a solid plan.

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But it wasn’t going to be that easy. Windham’s Brayden Penney broke through the Oxford Hills line and blocked Brayden Murch’s punt, and Tobias Perkins recovered and returned the ball to the Oxford Hills 40 with 2:02 left.

A pair of long runs by Marcus Tillery moved the ball to the 24-yard line before Windham decided to throw to what the Oxford Hills students and coach Mark Soehren called “Wyman Island,” and Wyman made the game-sealing interception at the 7-yard line with 1:11 left.

“I don’t know if I was nervous at that point, but I thought our defense was good enough to hold them,” Oxford Hills coach Mark Soehren said. “… Carter’s done a great job all year. We’ve just been trying to get him to believe in himself. We kind of joke around about ‘Wyman Island,’ and he’s been tested a lot and he’s done a good job.”

Wyman had two interceptions for the Vikings on Monday. He also picked off a pass at the Oxford Hills 4 with eight seconds left in the first half.

The Vikings offense moved the ball throughout the game — they outgained Windham 303 yards to 172 — just not into the end zone. The lone exception was their first drive of the game. The rest of the game, mistakes got in the way.

“We were driving down,” Wyman said, “and then just like something would happen — a fumble or a penalty.”

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RUNNING START

Oxford Hills received the opening kickoff and methodically marched 60 yards in 11 plays, featuring a heavy dose of Hunter Tardiff runs complemented by a pair of 10-yard passes by Brady Truman, one to Nick Binette and the other to Logan Bottomley.

Tardiff ran six times for 57 yards on the drive, including a 17-yard gain on which he busted through the line and dove for the end zone but came up a little short.

“Hunter’s come a long way,” fellow running back Jake Carson said. “He definitely struggled at the beginning of the year, but he’s hitting holes and he is running hard. He’s a hard guy to bring down.”

Carson finished the drive with a 1-yard touchdown run to give the Vikings a 6-0 lead with 5:50 remaining in the first quarter.

“We usually have started slow, but that first drive, you know, we did what we wanted to do. We did exactly what we wanted to do,” Soehren said.

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On Windham’s first play from scrimmage, Tillery ran for a 43-yard gain — which was 13 yards more than the Eagles gained on the ground in their 35-7 loss to Oxford Hills on Oct. 13 — putting the ball at the Vikings’ 20.

Tillery took the handoff, found a hole and sped to the sideline and up the field toward the end zone and what could have been a game-winning touchdown.

“I thought he was gone,” Soehren said, “and I think Logan Spencer was the one who ran him down. Those sorts of plays — we talk about it all the time, the effort that it takes to win games like this is incredibly difficult.”

Oxford Hills then shut down the drive and forced a turnover on downs when Owen Marr and Carson tackled Tillery on fourth down.

“It just wakes us up,” Carson said of big plays by the opposing offense. “Reality check that we’re playing a game. It just takes a second, but once we snap back, we’re, I think, the best defense in the state.”

The Vikings drove into Eagles territory before their drive stalled and they punted. That drive and their next possession were derailed by penalties.

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Oxford Hills’ first drive of the second half reached the Windham 16 before a fumble gave the ball to the Eagles.

Windham’s next play was a 31-yard run by Perkins, who tripped right as he had broken away from the defense. Again, the Oxford Hills defense came through, and three plays later, the Eagles were forced to punt.

The Vikings’ second possession of the half was a three-and-out, and their third ended on an interception by Windham’s Mason Arbour.

The Oxford Hills defense, meanwhile, forced three punts in the third quarter and allowed only two first downs.

“It really comes down to the front seven,” Wyman said. “They stop the run so much, and they do such a great job.”

After the Vikings forced their second three-and-out of the half early in the fourth, the offense drove from its own 25 to the Eagles’ 20, but consecutive false start penalties turned a fourth-and-1 into a fourth-and-11, and they turned the ball over on downs.

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“We just make mistakes,” Soehren said. “We’re driving, and we fumble. We’re driving, and then there was a block in the back where the kid that got blocked in the back was already being blocked in the front. And the punt, I’ve never had a punt blocked, ever, because of the way we protect, and the kids just didn’t block.

“We’ve been making a lot of mistakes like this the past few games.”

Oxford Hills forced another three-and-out and received the ball at its 30 with 6:41 to play.

Six runs by Carson and one by Tardiff on their next offensive possession advanced the ball to the Windham 36 before the Vikings tried to punt the ball away with 2:09 remaining in the game.

“We had our chances,” Windham coach Matt Perkins said. “The kids played phenomenal. They really played their hearts out, and, I mean, you can’t question their heart.”

Tardiff’s running led the offense in the first half, and Carson carried the load in the second. Carson finished with 13 carries for 103 yards, with 59 of those gained in the fourth quarter. Tardiff ran the ball 18 times for 96 yards.

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While Windham’s defense bent a little more than Oxford Hills, it also was tough to break. The Eagles held Truman to 13 of 20 passing for 104 yards — 109 yards less than in the teams’ regular season meeting.

“I told them I don’t expect to blow out Windham,” Soehren said. “We played well against them last time, we had some explosive plays, but I told the kids: playoff football, you never know. You can’t just go on what you’ve done before. You have to be ready for the other team. The other team’s going to come prepared. And that’s a great program.

“So it’s not surprising that it was 6-nothing. I mean, I felt like we played well enough to score more, we just didn’t. And of course, the defense played great. So, certainly can’t complain about a shutout.”

Tillery ran for 96 yards on 17 carries, while Perkins gained 55 on seven carries.

“They did a better job than they did offensively last game,” Soehren said of Windham. “Our defense is bend-but-don’t break, and of course, had a shutout — I’m not going to complain about the defense, the defense did a good job, it’s just that they had the ball a little bit longer.”

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