SCARBOROUGH — If you knew a punt that does not go beyond the line of scrimmage – blocked or not – can be advanced by the offensive team, then you understand how Scarborough scored the winning points Friday night in its 42-35 Western Class A quarterfinal against Sanford.

But at the Kippy Mitchell Sports Complex, most people were asking “What?” “How?” and “Is that legal?” after Zach Carriero of Scarborough grabbed Griffin Madden’s pop-up punt, then sprinted down the left sideline for a 42-22 lead.

“I didn’t even know it was legal,” Carriero said. “Apparently the coaches did. They yelled run.”

At the time the touchdown seemed like an odd footnote to a dominating second half by the Red Storm (5-4), who have won five straight and will meet top-ranked Thornton Academy in a semifinal next Saturday.

Sanford (4-5) responded with two quick touchdowns; Chase Eldredge connected with Eddie Michettie for touchdown passes of 54 and 19 yards, the latter with 56.7 seconds to play and no timeouts.

The craziest thing about Carriero’s punt advancement touchdown was that it was the second time the play happened in the game. In the first half Aren Dickman caught a deflected punt and ran forward for an apparent first down – after hearing his coaches from the far side yell to run. The play was called back because of an illegal procedure before the kick.

“I’ve been coaching 26 years and I don’t know if I’ve ever really seen it,” Scarborough Coach Lance Johnson said. “I always knew it was legal but I don’t know if I’ve ever seen it. Then to see it twice in a game. We weren’t practicing it. We’ll make sure the kids are aware of it.”

The play also overshadowed Scarborough quarterback Jack Hughes’ passing and Sanford’s ability to bounce back

Hughes finished the game 15 of 21 for 286 yards and three touchdowns to three different receivers on three different passes: a quick seam that Milani Hicks took 44 yards for a 14-7 lead in the first quarter; a 4-yard fade to 6-foot-6 Jacob Gardner in the second quarter that tied the game just before halftime; and a quick hard pass that Madden took across the field for a 14-yard score in the third quarter.

Carriero added two rushing touchdowns, including an 11-yard score early in the third to put Scarborough ahead to stay.

Sanford countered with the hard running of quarterback Eldredge (15 carries, 106 yards), the patient forays of shifty Peter Hegarty (22-78) and good runs around the end by wingback Michetti (8-83 with a 37-yard score).

Sanford hurt itself with three turnovers in the second half, one coming on an attempted reverse, that led to Madden’s score that put the Red Storm up 36-22.

“We tried a couple things that didn’t work out,” Sanford Coach Keith Noel said. “And they had (three) turnovers in the first half that we didn’t turn into points. That’s football. You’ve got to take advantage of all the chances you get.”

Punting was an issue throughout the game. Scarborough’s Anthony Simoneau, an explosive player on defense, blocked a Sanford punt and recovered it at the Spartan 3 to set up the game’s first score by Carriero.

Leading 42-29 with under two minutes to play, Madden went back for his final punt attempt and was thrown for a 17-yard loss. Sanford took over at the Scarborough 35 and scored the game’s final touchdown, the 19-yard pass to Michetti.

“We scored twice, we had the chance you know? We didn’t get it but I’m still proud of this team,” Eldredge said.

Steve Craig can be reached at 791-6413 or at:

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