SACO — Thornton Academy rallied behind backup quarterback Kobe Gaudette and dethroned Class A champion Bonny Eagle with a 28-24 win Saturday afternoon in a Class A South football semifinal.

Gaudette, a sophomore making his first varsity start, completed 9 of 12 passes for 115 yards and a touchdown – a 17-yard pass to Anthony Bracamonte that put second-seeded Thornton (8-1) ahead 21-6 midway through the third quarter.

“I was really excited, but so nervous,” said Gaudette. “The team really picked me up.”

Thornton will play at No. 1 Scarborough in the regional final. The Trojans won their regular-season meeting, 32-28.

Bonny Eagle finished 8-2, losing two of its last three games after an 18-game winning streak.

Gaudette was 4 of 5 on his first drive, hitting short passes to Bracamonte and CJ LaBreck, who turned them into big chunks of yardage. The drive stalled when Gaudette bobbled a fourth-down snap at the 3, but it imparted confidence.

“It was still a good drive and we were happy with how we went down the field,” Gaudette said. “Everybody picked me up. My teammates are great.”

Bracamonte’s ability to set up blocks and elude defenders was a Thornton staple. He had six catches for 77 yards and 18 rushing attempts for 105 yards.

“I just try to wait and see to find an opening,” Bracamonte said. “I know my line is working hard, and (fullback) Derek Madore worked his butt off.”

LaBreck’s two interceptions, including one returned 45 yards for a touchdown and a 14-0 lead in the second quarter, also helped erase the memory of a 49-14 home loss to Bonny Eagle in the fifth game of the season. Scots quarterback Connor Sirois struggled, going 8 of 15 for 90 yards with three interceptions.

“Bonny Eagle, in general, just the name motivated us,” LaBreck said. “We just came out and played our hardest and practiced hard all week, and we definitely wanted this game, and it looked like we wanted it more.”

Gaudette started in place of Will Mitchell, who was not present on the sideline. Coach Kevin Kezal and Athletic Director Gary Stevens would not comment on why Mitchell was absent.

“Kobe Gaudette played a great game,” Kezal said.

Gaudette completed three more passes on Thornton’s second drive, setting up Bracamonte’s 5-yard touchdown early in the second quarter.

LaBreck’s interception return came 2:25 later.

“It’s not easy playing from behind,” said Bonny Eagle Coach Kevin Cooper. “You’ve got to take some risks, and that probably contributed to Connor having more interceptions than he normally has.”

The Scots’ first two touchdowns, on 5- and 3-yard runs by Alex Sprague, came on drives of 22 and 8 yards. The first was set up by a Kordell Menard interception in the second quarter, and the second was two plays after a high snap flew past punter Grant Dow. The second TD trimmed the lead to 21-12 in the third quarter, but the second of Christian Napolitano’s three missed PATs followed. Bonny Eagle also failed on a 2-point run attempt.

With help from a late-hit penalty when Bracamonte was stopped short on a third-down run, Thornton went 52 yards in eight plays, with Bracamonte slicing in from the 5 with 20 seconds left in the third quarter.

Bonny Eagle scored twice in the fourth quarter but had to work hard for every yard. Sirois scored on a 4-yard run, then found Menard for a 7-yard touchdown catch with 2:12 left.

After a Thornton punt, Jordan Sharpe clinched the with an interception.

Steve Craig can be reached at 791-6413 or:

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Twitter: SteveCCraig

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