SACO — Thornton Academy senior captain Athan Gikas said the halftime message was clear, with the Golden Trojans locked in a 7-7 tie with Scarborough.

“Coach (Kevin) Kezal said when great teams face adversity, they respond the right way and work even harder,” Gikas said. “All throughout that third quarter, we were just trying to be the great team we are.”

With a combination of defense, offense, and a Scarborough penalty that negated a touchdown, Thornton went on a 21-point third quarter run to pull away for a 35-13 win Saturday before a big crowd at Hill Stadium.

Thornton, the only Class A team that’s still undefeated, improved to 6-0 and took a big step toward earning home-field advantage for the Class A South playoffs. Scarborough, the defending Class A state champion, is 4-1.

The Trojans were unchallenged through their first five games, winning all of them by at least 40 points. It was a different story in the first half against Scarborough, as both teams struggled to move the ball consistently.

Gikas started the Trojans’ third-quarter surge when he intercepted Chase Cleary’s underthrown deep pass into the wind.

“It just gave us the momentum. I looked at the sideline and everyone was jumping around and that’s when I knew, this game is ours,” Gikas said.

Facing third-and-10, Thornton junior quarterback Kobe Gaudette rolled right under heavy pressure and connected with Anthony Bracamonte for a 20-yard gain. That set up a 5-yard touchdown run by Grant Dow.

Scarborough appeared to answer when Jarett Flaker turned a swing pass into a 77-yard sprint down the right sideline, but the play was called back because of a block-in-the-back penalty.

“We got the penalty and got that called back, and that put us pretty deep in our own zone, and then from that point they had field position throughout the third quarter. That was a tough quarter for us,” said Scarborough Coach Lance Johnson.

Taking over at the Scarborough 39 after a punt, Thornton cashed in with a 9-yard TD run by Bracamonte. The third of Brady Forbes’ five extra points increased the lead to 21-7.

Thornton’s defense, which held Scarborough to 221 yards, produced a quick three-and-out. Bracamonte busted off a 29-yard run, and Gaudette went deep and hit Peyton Jones in stride for a 41-yard touchdown.

“We wanted to put them away and go up by three touchdowns and go for the big play, and it was there,” Gaudette said.

Gaudette completed one pass last year in a 49-7 loss at Scarborough in the Class A South final. On Saturday, he was 5 of 11 for 129 yards, and also rushed for 43 yards in the second half. Bracamonte was the other primary weapon, with 77 yards and two scores on the ground and four catches for 68 yards.

Scarborough cut its deficit to 28-13 on Cleary’s 4-yard run on the first play of the fourth quarter, after a 41-yard halfback pass from Flaker to Connor Oliver ended the third quarter.

But Thornton iced the game with a 10-play, 64-yard drive, with Isaac Ofielu, Gaudette and Bracamonte each gaining big chunks. Bracamonte scored standing up from the 3.

Thornton is 18-2 all-time against Scarborough. The Red Storm’s two wins have come the past two years in the playoffs.

The Trojans took the lead on the first play of the game when Julien BaileyCottle rumbled 63 yards for a touchdown.

Flaker tied the game on an 8-yard run with 9:05 left in the second quarter. It was the first score allowed this season by Thornton’s first-team defense.

Steve Craig can be reached at 791-6413 or:

[email protected]

Twitter: SteveCCraig

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