Saturday, November 15, 2014

Eagles tackle Bulldogs to advance to regional finals - By Stephanie Coffin

It was a cold and windy Friday night under the lights for both the Windham Eagle and Portland Bulldog fans during the Eastern Maine semi-final football game. The game was an exciting one that had fans from both sides staying until the end. After experiencing their only loss of the season to the Bulldogs, the Eagles had something to prove and that was that they could beat them at this game of football.

Portland enjoyed leading the game three different times; however, sophomore quarterback Desmond Leslie found his way into the end zone to put the Eagles on top of the scoreboard where they stayed. After one last drive from the Bulldogs the Eagles ran the clock down for a 21-17 victory and handed Portland a painful end.

"It was a hell of a game," said Bulldogs coach Jim Hartman. Portland, which had come up with big defensive plays all season, needed perhaps one more to clinch this victory, but instead, the Eagles would came up big when it mattered most.

Starting from its own 26, Windham got a big break when, instead of facing third-and-seven after Leslie threw an incomplete pass, it benefited from a roughing the passer penalty and earned a first down at the 44. Leslie moved the chains with a five-yard run. After Koza ran for a yard, Leslie dropped back and launched the ball down the right sideline, which Webb caught and took to the 5-yard line. Dylan Koza worked his way to the edge of the goal line on third down, but the Eagles weren't in yet and had only one more play to make it happen. In the biggest play of the night, Leslie kept the ball and moved the pile closer to the end zone. Josh Dugas gave Windham a 21-17 lead, meaning the Bulldogs needed a touchdown to win.

Portland worked hard to work the ball downfield. However, after a pass, a penalty plus an Eagles' personal foul penalty, Talbot ran for one yard, he then threw two straight incompletions, and with 1:39 to play, the Eagles took over at the Bulldogs' 45. With no Portland timeouts remaining, Leslie was able to take a knee on three consecutive snaps and that drained the clock as Windham held on to win, 21-17.

Windham improved to 8-1, beat the Bulldogs in the postseason for the first time in three tries, and have advanced to this weekend's Eastern class A final to battle 7-1 Cheverus. Game time 12:30 p.m. at Cheverus on Saturday.

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