Scarborough brings stunning end to TA’s reign; Cape also advances to regional final

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Scarborough’s Eric Quirk is congratulated by Emmett Peoples after catching a fourth quarter touchdown pass in the Red Storm’s stirring and stunning 36-29 victory at Thornton Academy in Saturday’s Class A South semifinal. Scarborough beat the Golden Trojans for the first time ever and ended their two-year title reign.

Scarborough’s Cody Dudley hauls in the winning touchdown pass in Saturday’s victory. The Red Storm scored 22 fourth quarter points to stun Thornton Academy.

Two Forecaster Country football teams are on to the regional final.

One as expected.

The other in shocking fashion.

Last Friday night, Cape Elizabeth, the top seed in Class C South, had little trouble with fourth-ranked Spruce Mountain, advancing by virtue of a 43-7 victory, the Capers’ 10th without a loss this fall.

Saturday afternoon, No. 3 Scarborough went to two-time defending Class A champion Thornton Academy, the second-ranked squad, and ended the Golden Trojans’ reign with a stunning and stirring 36-29 upset victory.

Unexpected

Entering play Saturday, the Red Storm had never beaten the Golden Trojans in 15 previous meetings (12 in the regular season and three in the playoffs).

Thornton Academy won the regular season encounter, 34-19, Sept. 30 at Scarborough and blanked the Red Storm, 35-0, in last year’s semifinals.

This time around, Scarborough got the job done.

The Red Storm scored first, on a touchdown pass from quarterback Zoltan Panyi to Eric Quirk in the first quarter for a 7-0 lead. Scarborough made it 14-0 in the second period when Owen Garrard scored on a short run, but Thornton Academy pulled within 14-7 at halftime, then tied the score with a third quarter TD, setting the stage for a wild fourth period.

The Red Storm retook the lead, 21-14, on a Panyi touchdown run, but the Golden Trojans answered to tie it again. Again, Scarborough responded and went ahead, 28-21, when Panyi hit Quirk with a TD pass, but Thornton Academy drove down, got a touchdown and a two-point conversion to go on top, 29-28.

With their season hanging in the balance, the Red Storm responded like the champions they hope to become, driving for the winning score, as Panyi found Cody Dudley in the end zone and Garrard’s two-point conversion rush extended the lead. Dudley intercepted a pass late and Scarborough held on to prevail in breathtaking fashion, 36-29.

“It was a great high school football game,” said Red Storm coach Lance Johnson. “Two very determined teams left it all on the field. Neither team wanted to lose. Our guys made one more play at the end. Our offensive line has improved greatly and played a tremendous game. Our backs and receivers also did a great job blocking for each other. Our three backs ran extremely hard, receivers made plays and our quarterback made plays with his feet and his arm. We could not have asked for any more effort from our players. We rushed for 285 yards and threw for 166, ran 65 plays to their 35 and possessed the ball for 33 minutes. After the first two drives we did not stop TA, but we limited their possessions and controlled the clock with our offense. We just had our players focused on executing physically and mentally play after play. Our players bought in and believed in each other right until the end.”

Friday at 7 p.m., in the Class A South Final, Scarborough (8-2) goes to top-ranked, preseason favorite Bonny Eagle (9-0), which ousted Sanford in its semifinal. Way back on Sept. 9, the Scots won, 21-7, in Scarborough in a game which saw the Red Storm squander many opportunities.

The teams’ lone prior playoff meeting came in the 2013 semifinals, when Bonny Eagle prevailed, 27-0, at home en route to its most recent championship.

“It should be a great high school football game,” Johnson said. “Two very tough, physical and determined football teams. They are very disciplined and well-coached. We will work hard this week in practice to be as ready as possible. We feel like we have improved greatly as a team since our last game against Bonny Eagle.”

The Scarborough-Bonny Eagle winner will face either Portland (9-0) or Windham (6-3) in the Class A state final Saturday, Nov. 19 at Fitzpatrick Stadium at a time to be announced.

As expected

Cape Elizabeth has clearly been one of the two powerhouse teams in Class C South since the onset of the 2016 season. The Capers won seven of their eight regular season games with ease and in the other, edged host Wells in a deluge, 13-7, to earn the top seed for the playoffs.

After a 40-6 win over Poland in the quarterfinals, Cape Elizabeth welcomed Spruce Mountain last Friday and while there were a few anxious moments in the first quarter, the Capers had no trouble advancing to their first regional final in seven seasons.

Brett McAlister broke a long touchdown run to give Cape Elizabeth an early 7-0 lead, but the Phoenix rallied to tie the score. By the end of the first period, however, the Capers had a 21-7 lead, thanks to two touchdown runs from Peyton Weatherbie. Jeb Boeschenstein hit Ben Ekedahl for a long touchdown pass and Cape Elizabeth added a two-point conversion to make it 29-7 at halftime and a Weatherbie TD scamper and a fumble recovery for a score by Alex Depke accounted for the 43-7 final score.

“The kids are in the moment, which is where I want them to be,” said Capers coach Aaron Filieo. “This group of kids is great and they’re so much fun to coach.”

Saturday at 12:30 p.m., Cape Elizabeth hosts 9-1 Wells for a highly anticipated regional final, one that many people have been expecting since August.

“We’ve played a full season of not so competitive games, so the guys had a blast playing them down there in the rain (a 13-7 Cape Elizabeth victory Oct. 21),” Filieo said. “Winning that game in the rain was telling for the coaching staff. The guys played like it was 60 degrees and sunny. We’re excited to play them again.”

The Capers and Warriors have met four times in the playoffs, dating back to 2009, and Wells has won on three occasions, including last year’s stunning 20-14 come-from-behind victory at Cape Elizabeth in the semifinals.

“We anticipate a competitive game with play at a high level,” Filieo said. “They have a good defense, team speed and can run the ball. Our guys love to compete. They enjoy spending time with each other. The more we can prolong that, the better for everybody. We’ll be fired up and ready to go.”

The Cape Elizabeth-Wells winner will meet Mt. Desert Island (8-1) or defending champion Winslow (9-1) in the Class C state final Saturday, Nov. 19 at Fitzpatrick Stadium in Portland at a time to be announced.

Sports Editor Michael Hoffer can be reached at mhoffer@theforecaster.net. Follow him on Twitter: @foresports.

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Sports Editor of The Forecaster since 2001. Find detailed game stories at theforecaster.net. I tweet prodigiously at @foresports.