PORTLAND — Cheverus was out of kilter in the first half of its Western Class A football final against Thornton Academy. A team that prides itself on mistake-free football lost a fumble, was called for blocking below the waist and had a pass intercepted at the goal line. The Stags found themselves trailing the inspired Golden Trojans 3-0 at the break.

That all changed in the second half. The Stags scored 21 unanswered points to take control on their way to a 21-10 victory Saturday at Boulos Stadium.

Cheverus (11-0), the defending Class A state champion, will look to repeat next Saturday when it plays Lawrence (11-0) in the final at Fitzpatrick Stadium.

“We couldn’t find the flow in the first half,” said Louie DiStasio, a standout wide receiver/defensive back.

“Our team motto is to play a full 48 minutes. We came up a little short in the first half but made up for it in the second. We had some big plays. It feels awesome to reach the state final again. We would love to repeat.”

Thornton (9-2) had a lot to do with the Stags’ struggles. Cheverus moved the ball on its first series, but on fourth-and-2 from the 21, the Golden Trojans stopped quarterback Cam Olson a yard short.

Late in the second quarter with Cheverus threatening, Andrew Libby intercepted a pass at the goal line and returned it 33 yards. That led to a 24-yard field goal by Brandon Briggs with 1:56 left in the half.

The Trojans had one more fourth-down stop in the third quarter before the Stags used field position and a strong wind to take control. Cheverus scored on its second and third possessions of the third quarter and added a third consecutive score at the start of the fourth for its 21-point run. The Stags also didn’t allow a first down in the third quarter.

“Our playmakers made plays,” said Cheverus Coach John Wolfgram. “We made some adjustments at halftime and the wind helped us a lot at the start of the second half.”

The Stags were stymied in the first half but determined in the second.

“Thornton has gouged every team inside. We stood up to them physically. Our front seven played very well,” said Wolfgram.

Cheverus took advantage of a pass interference call against Thornton early in the third quarter. Cam Olson then passed to Ryan Casale in the middle for 34 yards to the 5. Two plays later, Olson scored from the 5.

Casale, at linebacker, then stopped Nick Kenney of Thornton on third-and-1 at the 29.

On first down, Don Goodrich (20 carries, 127 yards) scored on a 54-yard run with 3:39 left in the third.

DiStasio’s point-after gave the Stags a 14-3 lead.

Thornton couldn’t move again and Cheverus, starting a drive at the 40 after a short punt, scored on the first play of the fourth when Olson lofted a pass to DiStasio, who outleaped a defensive back for a 25-yard score on third-and-12.

“I was the second option on the play,” said DiStasio, who batted away a pass for tight end Dakota Tarbox in the end zone in the second quarter. “Cam (Olson) was looking for Ryan Casale across the middle but he was covered.”

With 6:06 remaining in the game, quarterback Eric Christensen (8 of 19, 168 yards) passed over the middle to Libby, who split two defenders and ran the rest of the way for the score, the play covering 80 yards.

The Trojans got the ball back with 4:21 left, but Christensen fumbled on second down with Colie Walsh recovering.

“We couldn’t generate any offense in the third quarter,” said Thornton Coach Kevin Kezal. “Your defense can’t be on the field for as long as ours without Cheverus taking advantage. They’re too good of a team. I’m proud of the kids. They left everything on the field.”

Staff Writer Tom Chard can be contacted at 791-6419 or at: [email protected]

Twitter: TomChardPPH