HAMPDEN – Alonzo Connor has scored 30 touchdowns this season for Gardiner.

None was bigger than his 37-yard burst up the middle with 47 seconds left that lifted the Tigers to an improbable 28-25 victory against Hampden Academy in an Eastern Class B football semifinal Friday night at the Weatherbee Complex.

“We never quit,” said Connor, who rushed for a game-high 201 yards and all four Gardiner touchdowns. “We didn’t give up. We gave it all we had.”

No. 3 Gardiner (8-2) will play either No. 1 Leavitt (9-0) or No. 5 Belfast (5-4) in the regional final next weekend. No. 2 Hampden finished 8-2.

“We just did not want it to end (Friday),” Gardiner Coach Jim Palmer said. “It was an unbelievable game.”

It was also one the Tigers seemingly lost after Hampden quarterback Jon Haws rushed for a 12-yard touchdown on a broken play that put his team up 25-21 with 1 minute, 42 seconds left in the fourth quarter.

“When we went down, we knew we had to score,” Connor said. “We knew we had to just do it.”

The Tigers did, and in remarkable fashion.

Gardiner started the final drive on its 48-yard line after Connor took the kickoff 24 yards.

With time running down, Palmer kept the ball on the ground.

“When you have Alonzo, how do you not give him the ball?” Palmer said. “We talked a little about doing some different stuff, but Alonzo just wants to get to the end zone.

“We had to keep an eye on the clock, but we wanted to keep the ball in Alonzo’s hands. We had some time.”

Connor carried on three consecutive plays for 14 yards and the Tigers were at the Hampden 42 with 1:03 left.

“We thought they might pass it a bit,” Hampden Coach Harry McCluskey said.

After Mike Phelps ran for 5 yards, the Tigers faced a second-and-5 from the 37.

“Dalton (Eldridge) just kept saying in the huddle to trust the line, trust the hole, that it would be there,” Connor said.

Connor took the handoff from Spencer Allen, broke up the middle, shed a tackler and suddenly was in the open field.

“As soon as I got to the line I was thinking end zone,” Connor said. “I just kept sprinting.”

Added Eldridge, who rushed for 55 yards: “It was incredible.”

The Broncos drove to midfield in the final seconds, but Ted Worthley sacked Haws and time ran out.