Tanner Laberge saw the path and took it. And because he did, Windham continued on its path to a hoped-for Class A state championship.

Laberge blocked an extra-point attempt in overtime Saturday, giving the second-seeded Eagles the Eastern Maine title with a dramatic 21-20 victory against top-ranked Cheverus at Boulos Stadium.

Windham (9-1) will take on Thornton Academy (9-1) in the state final Saturday at Fitzpatrick Stadium in Portland. The game time will be announced Monday by the Maine Principals’ Association.

Laberge came charging in from the left side to get his forearm on Patrick Mourmouras’ kick as the Stags were bidding to send the game to a second overtime.

“I can’t even explain what happened,” said Laberge. “We said beforehand that we had to block it.”

The Eagles had beaten Cheverus 35-7 in Week 4 of the regular season, but the consensus was Cheverus had improved and the Eagles had plateaued. It was also the first home loss for Cheverus since falling to Thornton Academy in the 2012 Western Class A final.

Windham will be making its first appearance in the state championship game since defeating Bangor in 2009.

This time the Eagles rallied from a 14-3 deficit in the fourth quarter.

Cheverus (8-2) was bidding for its fourth regional championship in five years. The Stags won back-to-back titles in the West in 2010 and 2011, and another in the East last season following realignment.

A little alteration in Windham’s point-after defense gave Laberge, a senior, his chance for the block.

“We had been overloading it on the right side the whole game, but we switched it to the left side in overtime,” said Laberge. “We work on our PAT blocks all season. I got a good start on the snap. The ball hit my arm. This feels amazing.”

Laberge, who also plays running back, was mobbed by his teammates during the celebration.

Both teams were hurt by penalties, usually for holding. Cheverus suffered three costly miscues – a high snap on a field-goal attempt on its opening drive, a fumble in the third quarter when it possibly could have sealed the game, and the most costly, a fumble on a kickoff in the fourth quarter. Griffin Jacobson of Windham recovered the latter fumble, leading to Josh Dugas’ 29-yard field goal that made it 14-14 with 5:24 remaining in regulation.

In overtime, where each team gets the ball at the 10-yard line and keeps repeating it until there’s a winner, Windham received possession first and scored easily on Dylan Koza’s run on first down. Koza had clear sailing to the end zone after the Eagles sent a man in motion to the right and the Stags’ defense seemed to go with him.

Dugas’ PAT, which turned out to be the difference, made it 21-14.

Cheverus was looking to match the Eagles and force a second overtime. It looked promising when quarterback Isaac Dunn gained eight yards on first down and Joe Fitzpatrick scored on the next play.

Then came the PAT snap that was slightly high, but not enough to really make a difference for the holder, Liam LaFountain.

Still, that little hiccup gave Laberge, who charged in unimpeded, the chance to block the kick.

Asked what the game’s turning point was, Laberge didn’t hesitate – “the fumble on the kickoff.”

It came after the Eagles drove 80 yards in 10 plays to cut their deficit to 14-11. The drive featured the running and passing of sophomore quarterback Desmond Leslie, who carried five times in the drive and completed passes of 12 and 16 yards to Zach Davis.

Leslie scored from the 2 on second down, then rushed for the 2-point conversion to make it 14-11.

Following the fumble on the kickoff, the Eagles faced fourth-and-2 on the Cheverus 12. Dugas then booted his second 29-yard field goal of the game to make it 14-14.

Asked why he didn’t go for the first down, Windham Coach Matt Perkins said, “It wasn’t the right situation and I knew (Dugas) would make the kick. You have to know your players.”

Leslie’s running was a key factor in the game.

“We knew we needed to have a third runner if we were going to beat Cheverus here. Here’s a kid who started the year with no varsity experience,” said Perkins.

Cheverus’ touchdowns came on a 1-yard run by Justin Johnston in the second quarter, a 63-yard run by Fitzpatrick in the third, and then his 2-yarder in overtime.

Fitzpatrick finished with 177 yards on 24 carries.

“He’s a warrior,” said Cheverus Coach John Wolfgram. “Basically, he had a pulled muscle and battled through it the whole game.

“The fumbles hurt us, and Windham made the plays and seized the momentum.”

Tom Chard can be contacted at 791-6419 or at

[email protected]

Twitter: TomChardPPH

Only subscribers are eligible to post comments. Please subscribe or to participate in the conversation. Here’s why.

Use the form below to reset your password. When you've submitted your account email, we will send an email with a reset code.