SACO – Second-ranked Thornton Academy took a quarter to shake its early jitters, which was about the same time it took sophomore running back Andrew Libby to get rolling.

Thornton (8-1) did what it had to do in beating No. 7 Windham (4-5), 21-9, in a Western Class A football quarterfinal game Saturday at Hill Stadium.

The Golden Trojans will play South Portland (7-2) at home Saturday at 1 p.m. in a regional semifinal. The Red Riots — the only team to have beaten Thornton this season — advanced with a win over No. 6 Sanford.

Libby scored two touchdowns on short runs, but it was his rushing yardage that took its toll on Windham. Libby, running out of the Wildcat offense, finished with 248 yards on 25 carries.

“I was getting good blocking and my brother (Luke) was pulling and I was following him through the hole,” said Libby. “We might have been a little nervous at the start.”

Thornton Coach Kevin Kezal sensed that his team might be a little anxious at the start. The Golden Trojans squeezed by Windham, 7-0, early in the season.

“They were pretty quiet in the locker room before the game which is not like them,” he said. “We’re still a young team. For most of them, it’s their first time in the playoffs. We settled down after that and stayed focused the rest of the way.”

With the regular center out with an injury, the snaps to quarterback Eric Christensen in the shotgun were a little shaky in the early going. One that flew over the head of the 6-foot-2 Christensen resulted in a 13-yard loss, putting Thornton on its own 1.

Two plays later, the Eagles dropped Christensen in the end zone for a safety and a 2-0 lead with 8.7 seconds left in the first quarter.

The Eagles got the ball back on the free kick, but couldn’t move. Taking over at its own 19 to start of the second quarter, Thornton moved down field quickly. On the first two plays, Libby gained nine yards and then Christensen went for 14.

That was followed by consecutive Libby runs of 19 and 22. Two plays later, Libby scored from the two.

The Golden Trojans went up 14-2 on a 4-yard run by Libby with less than a minute before intermission. Libby gained 155 yards in the first half.

Early in the third quarter, Thornton looked like it was going in for its third touchdown, but the Golden Trojans fumbled at the 10 with Matt McLean recovering for the Eagles.

With 2:50 left in the game, Thornton put the game away on a 1-yard plunge by Christensen. On the ensuing kickoff, Damien Shepard of Windham caught the ball at the 1, started up the middle before cutting it outside and scoring on a 99-yard run.. The Golden Trojans ran out the remaining time.

Windham got into the playoffs by rebounding from an 0-3 start. “We just couldn’t recover from our mistakes,” said Windham Coach Matt Perkins.

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

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