It’s quite possible – probably likely – that the officials got the call correct.

The way it happened, though, made it tough to swallow for Portland High’s still-winless football team.

With 20.3 seconds remaining and Windham leading 7-6 in a penalty-filled defensive struggle Saturday afternoon at Fitzpatrick Stadium, Portland kicker Quinn Clarke lined up for a 27-yard attempt from the right hash marks. Clarke’s kick was plenty long but slid toward the left upright. The head umpire, who was stationed behind Clarke, initially signaled the kick was good. Then, after a very brief consultation with the official at the back of the end zone, the call was changed to no good, wide left.

Windham, which killed the rest of the clock by quarterback Tanner Bernier taking a knee, improved to 3-1. Portland is 0-4.

“When I see the umpire (raise his hands), it’s good,” said Portland Coach Jim Hartman. “He says, ‘I changed my mind.’ That’s bogus.”

The game was officiated by a four-man crew, instead of the preferred five. One official was injured and said early Saturday he could not work the game, according to Hartman and his coaching staff. If five officials had been present, “they would have had two (officials) under” the goal posts, Hartman said.

Three stadium security workers who had good angles and were near the goal posts said the kick was wide left by 1 to 3 feet. Windham Coach Matt Perkins thought the kick, which sounded like it was deflected by a Windham player, “was definitely 3 or 4 yards wide.”

Perkins also knew getting the win was pivotal in what has become a topsy-turvy region – Class A North – with no clear favorite.

“It’s huge,” said Perkins. “We’re battling injuries and stuff, and to come out and take care of that and to win here in one that was really a gut check …”

It was Portland’s third missed field goal. Clarke had 37-yard attempt in the second quarter blocked by Justin LaBrecque and pushed a 24-yard attempt wide right in the third quarter. Portland failed to score on its first five trips inside the Windham 20. The Bulldogs also were hurt by 13 penalties (Windham had 11) and a Windham defense that had 10 tackles for loss.

“I think our defense was the reason why we came out on top,” said Bernier, who also starts in the secondary. “We had a big field goal block. And somebody either got a hand or body (on the last field goal). I don’t know, but I was happy.”

Windham scored first, getting a 12-yard touchdown run from Treva Valliere with 4:55 left in the first half and a conversion from Liam McCusker.

Portland came close to scoring on the final play of the first half when a pass from Terion Moss was caught by Vinny Pasquale at the 5. He was tackled a yard short of the end zone by Bernier, with late help from Hunter Coffin.

Moss was making his first start at quarterback and became the third Bulldog to play the position in the first four games.

He put Portland on the board with 10:35 remaining, scoring on a 16-yard run on fourth-and-1 after gaining 20 yards on third-and-21. Portland elected to go for a 2-point conversion, but Moss was stopped on a sweep left by Bernier.

“It was a tight game, a tough game. We were playing great defense and I thought we could get it,” Hartman said.

Moss finished with 24 carries for 118 yards and completed 10 of 19 passes for 145 yards. Griffin Foley had six catches for 88 yards but was hurt on the final drive and had a brace and wrap around an ankle after the game.

Portland lost its starting guards, Ben Levine and Koa Farnsworth, to injuries in the first half but had a 337-194 edge in yardage – 197-37 in the second half.

Steve Craig can be reached at 791-6413 or:

[email protected]

Twitter: SteveCCraig