PORTLAND — A true sign of a great team is one that can turn on a dime and try something new when the initial plan fails to work.

The Portland football team switched gears Friday night when its running game stalled in the first half. The result was two second-half touchdown passes that propelled the Bulldogs to a 27-14 victory over Windham in the Class A North final at Fitzpatrick Stadium.

Portland (9-1), the No. 1 seed, advances to the state championship game for the second straight season. The Bulldogs will face Bonny Eagle next Saturday at Fitzpatrick Stadium.

Quarterback Issiah Bachelder, who was 6 of 8 for 79 yards in the second half after throwing only once in the first two quarters, thinks the taste of losing last year’s state final against Thornton Academy will bode well for him and his teammates.

“Last year we were very excited to win this game and make it to states,” he explained. “Now that we know the feeling of losing in the championship game, it means a lot to get back, but it will mean even more if we get the Gold Ball.”

Second-seeded Windham (6-4) led 7-6 at halftime and made it 14-6 when it drove 70 yards to start the second half, capped by a 39-yard pass from Desmond Leslie to Griffin Hebert (four receptions, 105 yards).

But Portland (9-1) was unfazed, and answered with a touchdown. Mixing up the run and pass – after gaining only 64 yards on 21 carries in the first half – the Bulldogs drove down the field, and Bachelder was 5 of 6 for 56 yards. He finished the series with a 13-yard strike to Griffin Foley, then rushed for the 2-point conversion to tie the game at 14-14 with 1:00 left in the third quarter.

“I saw Foley at the last second and stayed in the pocket, and I threw it and I connected,” Bachelder said. “I didn’t see (the catch) because I was hit hard as I threw it.”

The Bulldogs’ defense then took over, forcing the Eagles to go three-and-out. Windham didn’t pick up a first down the rest of the way.

Dylan Bolduc and Richard Farnsworth each had a team-high six tackles for Portland.

“It was a little shaky in the first half, but these are tough, football-smart kids,” said Portland Coach Jim Hartman, whose team has reeled off nine straight wins after a season-opening loss. “We’re a very quick defense. They reached down in their hearts (and executed).

“This is fantastic. I am so happy for the kids and the high school. They get another shot. There aren’t many teams that get to go back.”

Two penalties were crucial on Portland’s go-ahead drive.

An offsides penalty on third-and-3 from the Windham 42 gave Portland a first down. Four plays later, a running into the punter foul kept the drive alive. Jake Knop then caught a Bachelder pass on the right sideline at the 15 and split two defenders on the way to a 23-yard TD reception. Quinn Clarke’s PAT gave Portland a 21-14 lead with 5:03 left.

“We had the quarterback in our grasp twice and he made good plays (on the touchdowns),” said Windham Coach Matt Perkins. “He did a nice job. Their guys played very well.

“It was a rough part of the game – in the middle of the fourth quarter. We made a big stand twice and then the two penalties …

“Our guys played hard and gave it everything they had. We had a good season and we battled all season long.”

Bolduc (24 carries, 125 yards) iced the win with his second touchdown, from 35 yards, with a little more than a minute left.

“The run really wasn’t working too well in the first half so we had to switch some things up,” said Bolduc. “You gotta do anything you can to win.”