On a night when the Portland High football team’s prolific offense was stuck in neutral, the top-seeded Bulldogs needed a spark against No. 4 Lewiston in a Class A North semifinal at Fitzpatrick Stadium.

And they got one from their special teams and their smothering defense.

Isaak Alkafaji blocked a punt to set the tone and Portland scored 20 straight points in the final three minutes of the first half.

The Bulldogs then intercepted four passes as they went on to a 32-8 victory on Monday.

“We’re a three-phase football team,” said Sean Green, Portland’s first-year coach. “We can be an explosive offense at times, be really great on defense at times and we make big plays in special teams. It’s complementary football. When one’s lacking, the others have to step up.”

Portland (9-0) will host second-ranked Oxford Hills in the Class A North final at 7 p.m. Saturday.


Lewiston (4-6) had early chances to take the lead, but after a 53-yard pass from Jeffrey Randall to Ryker Paradis, it turned the ball over on downs, and after Randall connected with Jayden Sands for 48 yards, Michael Caron was off-target on a 27-yard field-goal attempt.

Portland finally got going with just over three minutes left in the half when Alkafaji blocked Michael Klick’s punt and the Bulldogs took over at the Blue Devils’ 6. One play later, McGowan scored up the middle to make it 7-0.

Brayden Wales then intercepted a deflected pass to set up a 12-yard Hunter Temple TD scamper.

Portland got the ball back at its 49 with 21 seconds remaining in the half and needed just nine of them as Louis Thurston threw a deep ball down the right sideline, McGowan ran under it, then broke two tackles en route to a backbreaking 51-yard touchdown reception and a 20-0 halftime lead.

“We just put that play in,” said McGowan. “We had it but hadn’t used it in a game yet. Coach called it and it worked. I caught it and I wasn’t going down.”

After taking the second half kickoff and scoring in four plays, on a 3-yard run by Cordell Jones, Randall was intercepted by Justin Charles, whose 45-yard return set up the Bulldogs’ final points, a 1-yard rush from Hunter Temple.


The Blue Devils finally scored with 5:54 remaining, when Sands scored on a 15-yard burst.

The Bulldogs’ defense, which also got interceptions from Jones and Jack Martin, closed it out.

“Defense is our main thing,” said Alkafaji. “That’s mainly what we’re known for.”

Lewiston Coach Jason Versey praised his team’s effort and its ability to give his community something to cheer for the past couple of weeks.

“We played as tough as I imagined we would,” Versey said.

“We just had some special teams issues and just like that, we were down a lot of points.

“It’s too bad because these kids put their hearts and souls into practice. I’m so proud of their strength and perseverance to play like they did.”

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