WINDHAM — Windham wide receiver Eric Webb calls the football rivalry between Windham and Portland one of the best around.

After two hard-fought games this season, who could disagree?

Webb caught a 40-yard pass from Desmond Leslie to set up Leslie’s 1-yard touchdown run on fourth down with 3:39 remaining, and second-seeded Windham rallied past No. 3 Portland for a 21-17 win in a Eastern Class A semifinal on an extremely windy and cold Friday night.

Windham (8-1) advanced to the Eastern Maine final against the winner of Saturday’s semifinal between top-ranked Cheverus and No. 4 Bangor.

With the Eagles trailing 17-14, Webb got a step on defensive back Jacob Knop down the sideline and Leslie launched a perfect strike. Webb was hauled down at the 5, but it put the Eagles in position to take their first lead.

The Bulldogs made Windham work for the last 5 yards. Two runs by Dylan Koza and one by Leslie got the ball to the 1 before Leslie scored his second touchdown of the game.

Portland (6-4) got the ball to midfield after a pass from Jordan Talbot to Knop went for 14 yards and another 15 yards was tacked on for a late hit.

But then the Bulldogs were called for an ineligible man downfield after a pass completion.

On fourth down, Talbot threw an incomplete pass, and Windham ran out the clock.

Portland handed Windham its only loss of the season on Oct. 11, winning 12-6 at Windham.

“The past three to four years we’ve had some great games with Portland,” said Webb. “It’s turned into one of the best rivalries in the area. We have a lot of respect for them and I’m sure they do for us.”

Portland kicker John Williams said during the week that he hoped he would have a chance to win the game. He nearly did.

Williams kicked a 29-yard field goal against the wind to give the Bulldogs a 17-14 lead with nine minutes remaining. Windham got the ball at its 44 and banged out a first down before Leslie connected with Webb.

Webb said he was confident the Eagles would come back.

“We all believe in our team,” said Webb. “We’ve faced a lot of adversity this season. We know we have to play a full 48 minutes and we did.”

Portland led three times – 7-0, 14-7 and 17-14. Talbot, a senior, was outstanding running the ball for the Bulldogs.

“It was the best game Jordan played in his career,” said Coach Jim Hartman.

Knop’s interception at the start of the fourth quarter gave the Bulldogs possession at the Windham 18. After three running plays by Talbot, Williams kicked his field goal.

Portland stopped Windham on the game’s first series, then went 56 yards in nine plays to take a 7-0 lead. Talbot scored from the 2 with 5:31 left in the first quarter.

Later in the quarter, Portland stopped the Eagles on a fourth-and-1 from the 14.

Windham tied it early in the second quarter, moving downfield behind the passing and running of Leslie and the running of Koza. Leslie started the drive with a 16-yard pass to Griffin Jacobson and ended it by bulling his way into the end zone from the 8. Josh Dugas’ PAT made it 7-7.

Portland regained the lead when Talbot scored on a 1-yard run that was set up by his 21-yard pass to Knop. Windham tied it with 25 seconds left in the half when Leslie passed down the seam to Zach Davis for 15 yards.

The Bulldogs played without two starters who were suspended for disciplinary reasons.

“I couldn’t be prouder of my team,” said Hartman. “We had to overcome a lot of adversity for this game. We had to revamp our backfield and our line.”