SCARBOROUGH – It was only a four-point game heading into the second half between No. 3 Scarborough and No. 6 Sanford Friday night.

But a key Sanford injury and an improved passing game turned the contest in Scarborough’s favor in the second half. And the Red Storm rode the turning points to a 42-16 win in the quarterfinal round of the Western Class A football playoffs.

First, Sanford’s standout back, Alex Shain, came up lame after getting hit in the hip on a run early in the third quarter.

Then the Red Storm (7-2) started to click on pass plays that had been open in the first half.

Quarterback Dillon Russo passed for five touchdowns, two each to Greg Viola and Chris Cyr. And once the Red Storm had control of the game, the defense stymied Sanford the rest of the way.

Scarborough will play the winner of today’s Kennebunk at Thornton Academy game next Saturday in one of two Western Class A semifinal games.

“When we saw Alex Shain go out, it gave us a lift,” said Russo.

Conversely, when his teammates saw their star player hobbling, it was deflating. Shain, who has put up huge rushing and scoring numbers this season, gamely returned later in the third quarter, but it was clear he wasn’t the same player.

“He gutted it out as best he could,” said Sanford Coach Mike Fallon.

“There was no secret what our game plan was. When you have a running back like Alex, you’re going to give him the ball. In the second half, we had some breakdowns … and Scarborough took advantage,” he said.

The Red Storm felt it could use its speed and athleticism, but Sanford checked those advantages in the first half when linebacker Colby Perigo had a couple sacks. But Russo and his receivers started clicking in the second half.

“We had some open receivers in the first half, but we couldn’t take advantage,” said Scarborough Coach Lance Johnson. “To come out in the second half and play like we did is a tribute to the players.”

Scarborough didn’t take advantage of Shain’s absence immediately, as penalties stalled the offense. But once they got rolling, the Red Storm erupted for 28 second-half points.

Scarborough drove 86 yards in 11 plays to make it 21-10 with 43 seconds left in the third quarter, converting a fourth-and-1 from its own 40 in the process.

Penalties for holding and an illegal block briefly stopped the Red Storm’s momentum, but it was quickly restored when Russo scampered 38 yards to the Sanford 31.

A pass to Viola gained 12 yards. On the next play, Russo lofted a pass into the left corner of the end zone that Viola, a senior, hauled in.

Early in the fourth quarter, Russo hit the speedy Viola over the middle, and the first-year varsity player outran the secondary to the end zone. Viola’s PAT made it 28-10.

“Greg Viola is the type of player who doesn’t want to come off the field,” said Johnson.

On the next series, defensive back Ben Greenberg intercepted a Sanford pass at the 40 and raced 60 yards for another touchdown to make it 35-10 after Viola’s kick.

The Spartans (5-4) fought back. Shain caught a long pass from quarterback Cody Mooney to the 6. Shain scored on second down from the one.

The Red Storm’s final score came on a pass from Russo to Cyr, covering 18 yards.

Sanford led 10-7 in the second quarter. Tyler Flayhan kicked a 25-yard field goal and Shain scored on an 11-yard run.

With time running out in the second half, Scarborough went for the touchdown instead of the field goal on fourth down from the 12. Russo fired a pass to Cyr in the end zone to take the lead.

Staff Writer Tom Chard can be contacted at 791-6419 or at:

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