PORTLAND – On fourth down, everyone is prepared for a momentum swing. There were a half-dozen of those critical plays in Saturday’s Western Class A football semifinal between Cheverus and Scarborough.

One reason Cheverus remained unbeaten was how it created and reacted to such abrupt changes.

“What we practice is something called Sudden Change,” said senior captain Evan Jendrasko. “Sudden Change is a mind-set. We have to be emotionally ready for it.”

Jendrasko ran for 134 yards and scored the winning touchdown, but his biggest contribution in the 21-14 victory came at nose tackle.

With a minute left in the third quarter and Scarborough driving for a go-ahead touchdown, Jendrasko shot the guard-center gap for a sack and a fumble the led to the winning touchdown.

“I knew we needed a big play,” Jendrasko said, “and as a captain, I thought I might try to step up and make one.”

Teammate A.J. Bennett recovered the ball, and when a Scarborough back piled on, the 15-yard penalty gave Cheverus possession across midfield after a play that began with the Stags backpedaling on their 29.

“That sack was obviously huge,” said Cheverus Coach John Wolfgram. “It turned the game.”

Top-ranked Cheverus (10-0) will be home against No. 3 Deering (8-2) in the regional final next Saturday.

After the fumble, the Stags drove 45 yards in 11 plays, highlighted by an 8-yard completion from Peter Gwilym to Jack Bushey on fourth-and-7 from the Scarborough 15.

Two runs by Jendrasko covered the final 7 yards, and Louis DiStasio’s point-after kick made it 21-14.

Fifth-seeded Scarborough (8-2) responded with a long kickoff return by Merrick Madden. A pump-and-go pass of 26 yards from Jack Adams to Kyle Kelley brought Scarborough inside the Cheverus 25, but the Stags twice stopped Mark Pearson (101 yards on 22 carries) at the 15 when Scarborough needed less than a yard for a first down.

Cheverus took over and ate up the last 5:06, grinding out four first downs.

“They weren’t 8-1 with smoke and mirrors,” Wolfgram said of the Red Storm, who came off a 1-7 season. “They gave us all we wanted.”

The Stags never trailed. Their opening drive covered 83 yards, all on the ground, never a third down. A 25-yard run by Gwilym set up a 6-yard score by Spencer Cooke.

A roughing-the-punter penalty turned a three-and-out series into a long scoring drive for Scarborough. Scott Thibeault bounced outside for a 16-yard TD run and Nathan Provencher kicked the point after.

Having never met in the regular season, Scarborough’s straight-ahead style proved challenging for a Cheverus defense used to wide splits and zone blocking.

“With all the spread offenses, not many (teams) run at people anymore,” said Scarborough’s first-year coach, Lance Johnson. “We had some success and play-action off it, and just couldn’t cash in there when we had chances.”

The first of those came late in the half with the score 7-7. Facing fourth-and-2 at the Cheverus 41, Johnson called for a direct snap to tight end Mike Cyr in a wildcat formation, but a muffed snap scuttled the play.

Cheverus took immediate advantage. Gwilym twice connected on long passes to DiStasio, who made a diving catch good for 21 yards, then hauled in a 32-yarder after a Scarborough defensive back misjudged his jump. Gwilym, who was 7 of 7 passing for 101 yards, scored from the 3 with 55 seconds remaining.

In the third quarter, it was Scarborough’s turn to make a stand, stuffing Cheverus on fourth-and-3 from the Scarborough 35. The Red Storm responded with a tying drive of five plays. Adams (11 of 21 for 153 yards) completed three passes, including a 37-yarder to Cyr, who broke two tackles on his way to the end zone.

Even though 6:12 remained in the third quarter of the 14-14 game, Scarborough regained possession only twice more. On the 10th play of its next drive, Jendrasko caused the game’s only lost fumble.

Staff Writer Glenn Jordan can be contacted at 791-6425 or at:

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