LEWISTON — Still learning. Still getting better. Still in the playoffs.

That’s the Portland High football mantra this season.

After a strong defensive effort and three second-half touchdown runs by quarterback Terion Moss keyed Friday night’s 27-13 win against second-seeded Lewiston at Bates College, the sixth-ranked Bulldogs – winners of two regular-season games – are in the Class A North final for a third straight season.

“We’re on a really good run now. We did start 0-5 but we started to pick it up in practice and in games, and we know that we can play football and battled back and now we’re in the regional final,” said Moss, who rushed for 170 yards on 24 carries, his fifth 100-yard rushing game in five starts at quarterback.

Portland (4-6) will be at fourth-seeded Windham (6-4) next weekend, the third straight year the schools have met in the regional final. Portland has won the past two.

Windham beat Portland 7-6 in the regular season.

Portland started four seniors (five with kicker Quinn Clarke) against Lewiston – Moss, Vinnie Pasquali, dinged-up receiver Griffin Foley and lineman Charles Egeland.

“With four seniors there’s a lot of learning that has to go on with those juniors and sophomores,” said Portland Coach Jim Hartman. “We’re starting sophomores and you know what? They’re no longer sophomores. They’re football players.”

Portland gained 68 yards in the first half but Lewiston (4-5) wasn’t much better against a defense led by junior nose guard Nathan Kapongo, linebackers Zach Elowitch and Jamal Moriba, and sophomore lineman Jonah Greene.

Portland got a spark when Pasquali stepped in front of a Tanner Cortes pass down the middle and returned it about 20 yards.

Moss hit Elowitch and Pasquali on quick completions, and put Portland on the board with 43 seconds left in the half on a 7-yard pass to a wide-open Pasquali. Moss had rolled right, then cut back to the left before throwing.

“I just kind of looked out of my left eye and saw the whole left side open with Vinnie there, so I just cut back and I found Vinnie,” Moss said.

Ben Stasium set up Portland’s second touchdown. With Cortes out with a thumb injury, backup Brock Belanger unwisely lobbed a pass into the middle from his own goal line. Stasium reached up with one hand and snared it, returning it five yards to the 7, setting up a 1-yard sneak by Moss.

“I wasn’t really expecting to catch it. I just tried to hit it down and it kind of stuck,” Stasium said.

Lewiston had two lengthy drives capped by fourth-quarter touchdown runs of 9 and 5 yards by Garrett Poussard, but both were answered quickly. Elowitch (11 carries, 48 yards) found running room inside and Moss finished with touchdown runs of 24 (8:38 to play) and 50 yards (1:55 to play).

“He’s unbelievable,” said Lewiston Coach Bruce Nicholas. “You know (Moss is) going to get the ball. You know you’ve got to wrap him up, you know you’ve got to break down but still, he finds a way.”

Stasium picked off Belanger with 1:02 to play to seal the victory. It was Lewiston’s fourth turnover to go with eight penalties.

Steve Craig can be reached at 791-6413 or:

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