Thornton Academy’s Jacob Lessard, right, leads for someone to block as quarterback Kobe Gaudette gets around the edge during a Class A football semifinal Saturday against Oxford Hills. Gaudette rushed for two touchdowns in a 48-9 victory. Brewster Burns photo

SACO — The first time Thornton Academy beat Oxford Hills this season, senior quarterback Kobe Gaudette torched the Vikings through the air for 254 yards and five touchdowns en route to a 35-6 win.

For Saturday’s rematch in the Class A semifinals, the Golden Trojans stayed on the ground and dominated the Vikings even more.

Thornton scored touchdowns on its first seven possessions and rolled to a 48-9 win at Hill Stadium, punching its return ticket to the Class A state championship game. The Golden Trojans (11-0), who have won 22 in a row, will face No. 2 Bonny Eagle next Saturday at Fitzpatrick Stadium.

Gaudette rushed 12 times for 106 yards and two touchdowns, and senior running back Isaac Ofielu had 17 carries for 85 yards and three TDs. Costa Gikas and Julien BaileyCottle each added a rushing touchdown as Thornton outgained the Vikings 262-18 in the first half, with 218 of the Golden Trojans’ yards coming on the ground.

“That was our game plan, (come) out and set the tone physically for the playoffs and pound it down their throats,” Gaudette said. “We wanted to be physical with them and see how we could form our run game today.”

“We figured they would run at us,” Oxford Hills Coach Mark Soehren said. “We figured they would run the first time, too. We just did a better job with it. And we did prepare a lot for their pass, but I don’t think their run game was because we weren’t expecting it. They just execute at a really high level.”

Oxford Hills (6-5) scored on a 58-yard pass from Wyatt Knightly to Ty LeBlond in the fourth quarter, and on a safety when an errant punt snap went out of the back of the end zone.

Thornton running back Isaac Ofielu breaks away from Caden Truman of Oxford Hills. Brewster Burns photo

Thornton seized control of the line of scrimmage from the start, running exclusively on its first two possessions (15 plays) to take a 14-0 lead.

“We just worked on (the running game) in practice and we practiced hard the whole week,” Ofielu said. “It was really what we’ve been doing the whole year. We’ve been putting in the work every single week. It doesn’t matter what team (the opponent) is, we’ve been going our hardest so that we can make opportunities for ourselves later in the season. And it’s definitely paid off.”

Ofielu’s first carry resulted in his first touchdown, a 3-yard run that capped a nine-play, 62-yard drive.

The Trojans forced Oxford Hills to punt when junior linebacker Daniel Tarbox stopped Oxford Hills’ leading rusher, Colby VanDecker, a yard short of the first down on third-and-2. The punt went off the side of Elias Soehren’s foot and was downed at the line of scrimmage, setting up Thornton at the Vikings 32.

Ofielu and Gaudette alternated carries to the 14, where the Trojans faced fourth-and-3. Gaudette’s enticed the Vikings to jump offsides with his cadence, giving Thornton a first down, then ran up the middle for a 9-yard touchdown.

“We’ve got players everywhere,” Ofielu said. “We’ve got Peyton Jones. We’ve obviously got Kobe. We’ve got Costa Gikas. We’ve got Hayden (Pomerleau). We’ve got Danny (Tarbox). We’ve got so many people that can go out and effectively make plays that it’s hard for the defense to keep up with that.”

“The last time we played them, they kind of loaded the box against us and we were able to throw the ball a bit more,” Thornton Coach Kevin Kezal said. “This time, they played a little more coverage and we were able to get our running game going.”

Two plays into the Vikings’ next series, Gaudette intercepted a pass and returned it to the Oxford Hills 39, setting up a 24-yard TD run by Ofielu.

Artu Tapola sacked Knightly on third down to force the Vikings to punt from their own end zone. Starting at the 43, the Trojans needed only two runs by Gaudette – 19 and 24 yards – to make it 28-0.

A fumble recovery by Cody Ruff led to a 5-yard TD run by Gikas. BaileyCottle added a 1-yard run just before halftime for a 42-0 lead.

“They’re good as it is, and (the mistakes) put you in a hole,” Soehren said. “With our game plan, it was run-oriented, and it was tough to come back from that. Thornton dominated in every facet.”

Ofielu scored from the 1 on Thornton’s first possession of the second half.

The Trojans held Oxford Hills without a first down until late in the third quarter by bottling up VanDecker (eight carries, 24 yards), who rushed for 207 yards and three touchdowns in the Vikings’ 42-0 quarterfinal win over Sanford. Three plays after moving the chains with a 3-yard run, Knightly connected with LeBlond for the Vikings’ touchdown.

“Obviously (VanDecker) was kind of the guy we wanted to make it a point to stop the first time, and this time, too,” Kezal said. “He had a great game last weekend and he’s a very good back, and they’re pretty big up front and physical. So I was very pleased with how we controlled the run.”

“I think that’s one of our strong suits, how we’ve done a really great job of treating every team like they’re the best team in the league and this game is what matters right now,” Gaudette said.

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