SACO — A few weeks back, when Thornton Academy defeated Bonny Eagle in the regular season, Trojans quarterback Austin McCrum threw for less than 30 yards.

Saturday afternoon, McCrum had a much more productive passing game against the Scots to help Thornton Academy win the Western Class A football championship for the second time in three years. McCrum threw for 246 yards and two touchdowns – both to Kevin Barrett – as the top-ranked Trojans beat the defending state champions 30-14 at Hill Stadium.

Thornton Academy (9-1) will play Windham for the Class A state title next Saturday at Portland’s Fitzpatrick Stadium. The game time will be determined Monday morning by the Maine Principals’ Association.

“This means the world to me,” said McCrum, a junior. “I’ve never been a part of this. I was injured my freshman year. To be a part of this is the best thing I’ve ever been a part of. That’s the biggest win I’ve ever had.”

The Trojans, who lost to Bonny Eagle in the regional final a year ago, set the tone on the opening drive when McCrum threw a 29-yard touchdown pass to Barrett, who was behind the defense down the middle of the field. Cam Cadorette’s PAT kick made it 7-0.

Throughout the game, McCrum was able to not only make critical completions, but long ones, too. He averaged 20.5 yards on his 12 completions.

Kevin Kezal said his team effectively countered a Bonny Eagle defense that was looking to stop the run. “That opened up some of our pass stuff,” he said. “Our line did a great job protecting and Austin threw the ball well.”

Barrett caught five passes for 122 yards, while Corey Hart caught three passes for 83 yards and Ben Lambert had four catches for 41 yards.

As well as the Trojans moved the ball, it was a reasonably close game for almost three quarters.

It was 7-6 midway through the second quarter after the Scots (6-4) scored on a well-designed 24-yard pass from Zach Dubiel to Matt Smith out of the backfield. That play was set up by a 37-yard option pass from Smith to Ben Malloy. But the PAT kick was wide left and, said Kezal, “I think that gave us a lift.”

Thornton responded by going 68 yards in just four plays, with McCrum hitting Barrett for a 42-yard score – again right down the middle of the field. Cadorette made it 14-6.

“This week we added a few routes and plays to get me the ball down the middle of the field,” said Barrett. “The first game I really didn’t touch the ball, actually. So we added a few routes and ended up helping us.”

The Trojans forced a punt and took over at their 36 with 31.2 seconds remaining in the half. McCrum hit Hart for a 24-yard gain – an improbable catch in which Hart reached around the defender who was blanketing him – and then connected with Barrett for 24 yards. That set up a 32-yard field goal by Cadorette that gave the Trojans a 17-6 lead at the half.

“That was hugely important,” said Bonny Eagle Coach Kevin Cooper. “I think it was a great job by Thornton Academy to take advantage of the wind a little bit, make some passes to get it down there. Big play in the game, definitely.”

As the third quarter was winding down, Thornton’s Michael Laverriere made a sliding interception at the Bonny Eagle 19. Six plays later, Laverriere slammed it in from the 1 and Thornton led 24-6 with 6.9 seconds left in the third.

“We knew we couldn’t turn the ball over against Thornton because they’ll make you pay,” said Cooper. “They were the better team today and deserve to go to the state championship. We wish them the best. I’m proud of how hard our kids fought. We were with them close for a while.”

Thornton’s Greg Ruff scored on a 21-yard run in the fourth to make it 30-6. Bonny Eagle got a final touchdown on a 1-yard sneak by Dubiel, but the Trojans ran out the final four minutes to move on.

“We’ve had great senior leadership since January,” said Kezal. “They’ve done everything we’ve asked and worked their tails off. And it’s great to see them get rewarded with this opportunity.”

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

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