PORTLAND — Shivering and exhausted, Portland’s workhorse running back, Zack Elowitch, refused to let go of the regional championship plaque following the Bulldogs’ 21-14 overtime victory over Oxford Hills in the Class A North football final Friday night at Fitzpatrick Stadium.

Elowitch’s play-until-you-drop spirit and that of his teammates, along with the Bulldogs’ championship-game experience, spelled the difference. Portland twice bounced back from deficits, then got an Elowitch touchdown run in overtime and forced a Colton Carson fumble, recovered by Jonah Green, to end to game.

The Bulldogs improved to 9-1, ended the Vikings’ season at 7-3 and advanced to the state final next Saturday against either defending champion Scarborough or undefeated Thornton Academy at Fitzpatrick Stadium.

“They came out ready to play, we came out ready to play, they’re a great football team, and we just had to fight for it,” said Elowitch, who scored twice and ran for 211 yards on 26 carries. “As a senior, my last season playing football, it just feels incredible.”

After a scoreless first quarter, Oxford Hills drove 79 yards on eight plays to take the lead, as Janek Luksza capped the march with a 9-yard touchdown run on an option pitch. Luksza added the extra point for a 7-0 lead with 7:40 to play in the half.

Portland then went three-and-out, but an interception by Ben Stasium got the ball back. Facing second-and-24 from the 18, Elowitch cut up the middle, found running room and left the Vikings’ defense in his wake en route to an 82-yard score.

“(Zack’s) a senior and a (Fitzpatrick Trophy) candidate, I’m sure,” said Portland Coach Jim Hartman. “He’s a tough, tough running back. He’s done that all season long.”

Cristo Vumpa added the PAT, and the teams went to the half tied, 7-7.

Missed opportunities were the theme of the third quarter. Luksza couldn’t make a 30-yard field goal after a bad snap, and after the Vikings got the ball back on an Elowitch fumble, they went backward and had to punt.

Late in the quarter, Elowitch was intercepted by Alex Turner on a halfback option pass. That led to the go-ahead touchdown early in the fourth, as Turner got wide open behind the secondary and hauled in a 25-yard pass from Carson.

The lead lasted just two plays, as Jamal Moriba tied it again with a 63-yard touchdown run.

The game eventually went to overtime, where each squad gets four downs from the opponent’s 10.

Portland got the ball first, and Elowitch scored on third down from the 7. Carson then ran to the 1 on the first play of the Vikings’ series, but Oxford Hills was called for illegal procedure and was pushed back to the 6. On the next play Carson was stripped by Green, who also recovered the ball to clinch the victory.

“I hit the quarterback and he fumbled and all my teammates jumped on me,” Green said. “I’m just speechless.”

The Vikings got 145 passing yards and 121 more on the ground from Carson.

“I’m not sure what happened (on the last play), so give Portland credit, their kid made the play,” said Oxford Hills Coach Mark Soehren. “I told the kids I’m not sad because they gave me a terrific effort.”