Terion Moss wasn’t sure if he wanted to play football this year. After all, the Portland High senior is regarded by many as the top returning basketball player in the state.

College basketball is definitely in the future for the Bulldogs’ point guard, possibly at the NCAA Division I level.

“I talked to my parents about it. They said it was up to me, but they really thought I should just focus on basketball,” Moss said.

Eventually, his friends convinced him to return to football this fall. At midseason, the 6-foot, 173-pounder took over at quarterback – a position he had never played before.

In his four starts, Moss has rushed for more than 100 yards each game while leading a turnaround for a team that lost its first five games. Last week, he sparked the sixth-seeded Bulldogs (3-6) to a 21-16 victory at No. 3 Oxford Hills/Buckfield in the Class A North quarterfinals.

Portland next faces No. 2 Lewiston (4-4) at 7 p.m. Friday at Bates College. Three weeks ago, the Bulldogs beat Lewiston 17-14 in overtime on a 21-yard field goal by Quinn Clarke. Moss, making his second career start, ran for 158 yards and both Portland touchdowns.

“He runs and he squirms and he cuts and you can’t bring him down, and he finds an opening,” Lewiston Coach Bruce Nicholas said after the game.

Moss said of Lewiston: “They have a good defense and they beat Edward Little, who was undefeated, their last game of the season, so they have good momentum going into this game.”

Ronaldo Waketi started at quarterback in the Bulldogs’ opener but was injured in the first half. With Moss starting at strong safety (which he still does) and wide receiver, sophomore Sam Knop was at quarterback the next two games – losses at Edward Little and home to Bonny Eagle.

Entering the fourth game, against Windham, Moss took over.

“That was my first game playing quarterback. Ever,” he said. “In my entire life. I had like two or three days (of practice).”

Portland ended up losing that game, too, 7-6, but the offense gained 337 yards and Moss rushed for 118, threw for another 145 and scored the Bulldogs’ touchdown.

“We had to do it. He was willing. It worked,” said Portland Coach Jim Hartman.

Moss broke a bone in his thumb against Windham and missed the loss to Cheverus that dropped Portland’s record to 0-5, then played running back in a rout of Bangor. He moved back to quarterback for the last two games of the regular season – the win over Lewiston and a loss to South Portland.

Senior wide receiver Vinnie Pasquali says he knew quickly that Moss was the right man at quarterback.

“He threw a bomb at the end of the half to me (against Windham). I came up short for the touchdown, but it was like, he’s the real deal. He can play anywhere. We’ve finally got our team together,” Pasquali said.

“We knew it was going to take time to get the hang of things, but we knew we were on to something and it was going to get much better.”

“Terion’s vision really helped our offense,” said senior lineman Charles Egeland. “I think he showed that he’s definitely up for the challenge.”

Basketball still comes first for Moss. He said he’s been offered a scholarship by the University of New Haven and is working with the University of Maine to set up an official visit. Franklin Pierce is also in the mix, Moss said.

But Moss is glad he gave football one more whirl.

“It’s been worth it,” he said. “At first, I didn’t really know the team that well, but now it’s like I have a special bond with them and they’re like brothers to me.”

THIRD DOWN. That’s when No. 2 Thornton Academy (7-1) needs to make more plays – on both sides of the ball – if it wants to reverse its 49-14 home loss to No. 3 Bonny Eagle (8-1).

The two Class A South powers return to Hill Stadium for a regional semifinal at 1 p.m. Saturday.

In the first meeting, Thornton took a 14-13 lead with eight minutes left in the second quarter. The next four drives each featured a critical third-down play, and all four were won by Bonny Eagle.

The Scots’ offense converted twice to keep touchdown drives alive, and twice their defense stopped Thornton quarterback Will Mitchell on designed runs when the Trojans needed 6 and 5 yards.

“We had a couple of opportunities to get off the field,” said Thornton Coach Kevin Kezal. “We were offsides on third-and-6 and then they convert, and to their credit go down and score. We can’t run out the clock, and they convert again (on third-and-11). Those are situations we have to get ourselves off the field.”

Thornton finished the regular season with three straight wins, allowing 14 points while scoring 110.

“Defensively, we’ve figured out some rotations and we’re running the ball better,” Kezal said. “Our kids have worked hard. We had a lot of first-year players, and the seniors have done a great job leading and the underclassmen have done a great job following.”

Steve Craig can be reached at 791-6413 or:

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