Anthony Bracamonte put his electrifying stamp on the Class A state championship game, quickly and often.

The senior slot back scored on a 61-yard pass from Kobe Gaudette on the third play from scrimmage By the time Thornton Academy finished its first unbeaten season since 1986 with a 49-14 win Saturday against Portland at Fitzpatrick Stadium, Bracamonte had four touchdowns – including one on a punt return – and 100 yards rushing and 144 receiving. Two other long touchdowns were negated by penalties.

“We started this on Aug. 13 and we had this day marked on the calendar the whole season,” said Bracamonte. “We practiced hard through the cold, through the rain. We worked hard every single second of it, so we deserve this.”

The game was billed as a meeting of two rock-solid run defenses, with a sense the winner would need to get production from its passing game.

Thornton (11-0) did that. Gaudette completed 7 of 10 passes for 162 yards and four touchdowns – three to Bracamonte and a 22-yarder to a wide-open Derek Madore to close out a 35-7 first half.

“It’s nice to have a player like (Bracamonte) who can do everything on his own. Well, not on his own, but who can make things happen,” Gaudette said.

Portland (9-2) lost in the state final for the third time in four seasons. The Bulldogs did not complete a pass and were called for 14 penalties for 115 yards. Zack Elowitch rushed for 244 yards on 34 carries, with touchdown runs of 67 and 66 yards, often from a Wildcat formation, but the rest of the Portland offense accounted for four yards.

“We just needed to stay composed and I guess we just didn’t coach them up well,” said Portland Coach Jim Hartman. “When we didn’t make penalties we scored.”

After Bracamonte’s first touchdown, Portland returner Ben Stasium, apparently thinking he was in the end zone, downed the kickoff at the 1. After a three-and-out, Bracamonte returned the punt 34 yards for the score just 2:44 into the game.

Portland’s next possession ended quickly with a Grant Dow interception of Sam Knop at the Bulldogs 26. Bracamonte and Isaac Ofielu (15 carries, 101 yards) alternated carries before Dow plowed in from the 1. Brady Forbes’ third of seven extra-point kicks put Thornton ahead 21-0 barely six minutes into the game.

After Elowitch’s first touchdown, Portland recovered a Bracamonte fumble at the Thornton 31 with 9:20 left in the half. The chance to get back in the game ended with an Elowitch punt. Thornton then went 86 yards in six plays, with Thomas Palmer scoring on a 2-yard run.

An Elowitch fumble set up Madore’s TD 2:57 before the half.

In the third quarter, Gaudette and Bracamonte connected for TDs of 31 and 8 yards to stretch the lead to 49-7. The first score initiated running time because the margin had reached 35 points.

In 2017, all three state finals played Fitzpatrick were running-time wins for South teams.

Thornton never trailed this season.

“It was a great team effort, really proud of how far this team came this year, and couldn’t ask for a better ending,” said Thornton Coach Kevin Kezal.

Steve Craig can be reached at 791-6413 or:

[email protected]

Twitter: SteveCCraig

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