Friday, December 13, 2013
By MARK JEANNERET Special to the Telegram
SACO - Andrew Libby ran for three touchdowns, including a 46-yarder late in the fourth quarter, to lift Thornton Academy to a 42-34 victory over Kennebunk in the Western Class A quarterfinals Saturday.
Libby's third touchdown with 5:49 left in regulation provided some breathing space for the second-seeded Trojans (8-1), who were challenged throughout by a Kennebunk squad (5-4) making its first postseason appearance since 2007.
"That was a good touchdown," said Libby. "That's what we call checkmate, to end the game."
The score didn't exactly end the game but it did give the Trojans a 14-point lead.
The Rams kept the pressure on by responding on the next series. Quarterback Nick Emmons maneuvered his squad downfield and connected with Larson Coppinger on a 5-yard touchdown pass to bring the Rams back to within striking distance with 2:48 left. A failed two-point conversion, the third of the day for the Rams, sustained the final score.
The Trojans then held possession until time expired.
"We gave them everything we had. It just didn't work out in the end," said Kennebunk Coach Joe Rafferty. "They're an outstanding team, no doubt about it.
"I thought we gave them a lot of field position, in the first half in particular, and that didn't help us a whole lot."
The Trojans face No. 3 Scarborough (7-2) in the regional semifinals on Saturday.
Kennebunk struck first Saturday when it capitalized on a fumble by TA's Nick Kenney at midfield. On the next play from scrimmage, Tyler Elkington took off on a 47-yard run to bring the ball down to the 6-yard line. Nicco Delorenzo completed the drive with a 6-yard run to give the visitors an 8-0 lead after a two-point conversion.
Thornton Academy answered on its next possession as Dylan Morton scored on a 33-yard run. Eric Christensen passed to Andrew Libby for a two-point conversion to tie the score.
The back-to-back scores provided a glimpse of what turned out to be an offensively charged opening half.
The Trojans scored on each of their next four possessions, including touchdown runs of 2 and 6 yards by Libby.
The Rams countered with scores on their final three possessions of the half to stay in the game. Two of the scores were set up by good kickoff returns, including an 84-yarder by Delorenzo that set up a 3-yard touchdown pass from Emmons to Hank Lapham.
The Trojans led 35-28 at the half. Defense took over in the second half.
"Both teams made a lot of plays (in the first half)," said Thornton Academy Coach Kevin Kezal.
"We turned the ball over in the first half and gave up a bunch of big plays defensively. In the second half we needed to take better angles, stay behind the ball in the pass game and be better on special teams."