Monday, April 21, 2014
By Tom Chard firstname.lastname@example.org
SACO — Thornton Academy is finally healthy. And winning big. No coincidence there.
One week after knocking off previously undefeated Bonny Eagle, the Trojans dominated from the start Saturday and rolled to a 54-6 victory against Biddeford in the 93rd Battle of the Bridge at Hill Stadium.
Demel Ruff scored four touchdowns to lead Thornton to its most lopsided win in the long series, passing the 53-7 victory in 1952. Thornton leads the series 52-33-8 and Coach Kevin Kezal has a 12-3 career regular-season mark against the Tigers.
As the No. 2 seed in Western Class A, the Golden Trojans (6-2) will wait two weeks before a regional semifinal against South Portland or Sanford, who meet in the quarterfinals. Bonny Eagle (7-1) is the top seed.
Kezal, not a big proponent at the start of the season, now likes the six-team playoff system while wondering the effect of having two weeks off before his next game.
Ruff has the answer.
“It gives us time to rest and come back strong for the playoffs,” he said.
Since losing to Cheverus 56-7 on Oct. 12, the Golden Trojans have played their best football.
“That game showed us where we have to get to,” said Kezal. “It was also probably the low point for us health-wise.”
Thornton was bigger and stronger than Biddeford (4-4), pressuring quarterback Casey Twomey from the start and dropping him behind the line several times.
“We’ve played really good football the last two weeks,” said Kezal. “We’re trying to get better. It’s going to be a tough tournament.”
Seldom has a team’s runners been so open after breaking through a hole as Thornton’s. It happened on Ruff’s first touchdown run of 54 yards on Thornton’s second play, and several times after that.
“I just saw green,” said Ruff. “I was a little surprised. The line made some great blocks.”
Biddeford is no slouch, heading to the playoffs and coming off a strong game for a half against South Portland, which beat Thornton in an opener.
But Kezal said the type of defense Biddeford plays contributed to his backs being open after the line.
“Biddeford plays pressure defense and crowds the box. If you pop it there’s not much there,” he said.
Ruff scored on a 1-yard run at the end of the first quarter to make it 12-0. Quarterback Austin McCrum then faked a handoff and had open field, just like Ruff, on a 25-yard scamper to make it 19-0. Ruff scored on a 16-yard run midway through the second quarter to make it 26-0 at halftime.
The Golden Trojans needed three plays starting the second half to make it 33-0. On fourth-and-1, Ruff broke through the line and had clear sailing on a 51-yard run. McCrum passed to an open Corey Hart for a 28-yard score to make it 40-0.
Justin Boure scored the last two touchdowns, the first on a 42-yard run where, you guessed it, he was wide open.
“(Ruff) is getting better every week,” said Kezal. “Our front five played very well defensively. Biddeford had a hard time blocking them. We took Biddeford out of the game early.”
Lucas Rhoy scored on a 50-yard run for Biddeford with 6:28 left.
Tom Chard can be contacted at 791-6419 or at: