SACO — Coming off a bye week, top-ranked Thornton Academy looked to set the tempo early in its Western Class A football semifinal with Scarborough. And that’s just what the Trojans did.

Aided by two turnovers, Thornton scored three touchdowns in the first 10 minutes and never looked back, defeating the Red Storm 50-20 Saturday at Hill Stadium. Michael Laverriere scored on runs of 3, 9 and 3 yards, and Demel Ruff had touchdown runs of 14 and 29 yards.

“Just to come out and set the tempo like that was big for us,” said Ruff, who led Thornton with 152 yards rushing. “We knew they were going to come out and be a lot better than they were at the beginning of the season, so it was important for us to get going like that.”

The Trojans (8-1) will host Bonny Eagle in the regional final at 1 p.m. Saturday. In stopping Scarborough’s five-game winning streak, Thornton displayed a balanced game across the line.

The Trojans rushed for 280 yards and six touchdowns, while Austin McCrum passed for 114 yards and a touchdown. The defense had three interceptions and three sacks. And the Trojans’ special teams forced a fumble that led to a score.

“It was a great effort by the kids, great win,” said Thornton Coach Kevin Kezal. “This time of year you just want to win and advance, and that’s what we did.”

Scarborough (5-5) faced fourth-and-2 at its 45 when Matthew Cleary intercepted a deflected pass, giving Thornton the ball at the Red Storm 43. Ruff gained 39 yards on second down, setting up Laverriere for his first score. Cameron Cadorette, who was perfect on six PAT kicks, made it 7-0 just 2:48 into the game.

“When we make big plays like that it gets everyone going, even the guys on the sideline,” linebacker Jimmy Remmes said of the interception. “It makes the tempo a lot faster and makes guys get into the game a lot faster.”

Back-to-back sacks by Remmes forced Scarborough to punt on the next series, and the Trojans drove for another score – a 3-yard run by Greg Ruff with 3:43 left in the first quarter.

Remmes recovered a fumble at the Scarborough 28 on the kickoff, leading to a 14-yard scoring run by Demel Ruff, and it was 21-0.

Scarborough quarterback Jack Hughes threw touchdown passes of 19 yards to Anthony Quintiliani and 71 yards to Griffin Madden in the second quarter to bring the Red Storm within 28-14. Hughes finished with 258 yards passing.

But Laverriere’s second touchdown, a 9-yard run with 1:36 remaining in the half, and his 2-point conversion rush helped Thornton regain control.

“That was huge for us,” said Kezal. “It gave us a three-score lead again.”

Scarborough drove to the Thornton 4 on its first possession of the second half, but a fumbled snap and three incompletions ended the threat.

“If we could have got that first score of the second half, we could have made it a little more interesting,” said Scarborough Coach Lance Johnson. “But I was proud of our kids. They gave away a lot of size, with our skill kids and our linemen, and fought really hard and played really well. And they played together and never gave up. I’ll take that.”

Mike Lowe can be contacted at 791-6422 or at:

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