Thornton Academy's Ean Patry hoists the gold ball for the crowd to see at the Class A state football championship game in Portland on Saturday. Credit: Troy R. Bennett | BDN

PORTLAND, Maine — The first two times Thornton Academy’s Anthony Bracamonte touched the football, he scored.

And that was just the start for the senior standout, who finished with 100 rushing yards, another 144 receiving and 4 total touchdowns in a 49-14 Class A state championship game blowout victory over Portland High School Saturday.

The Bulldogs, playing in their home Fitzpatrick Stadium, were crippled by mistakes and penalties, which killed promising drives and repeatedly handed Thornton good field position.

Portland’s lone bright spot came in the form of senior Zachary Elowitch, who carried the ball on nearly every Bulldog snap on offense, with 33 rushes, 243 yards and the team’s only two touchdowns — a 67-yard run in the second quarter and 66-yarder in the fourth.

Credit: Troy R. Bennett | BDN

Thornton Academy’s victory gives the Saco school its fourth gold ball since 2012 and seventh in the school’s history.

The Trojans started quickly to get it. On the team’s first possession, junior quarterback Kobe Gaudette connected with Bracamonte on a 61-yard touchdown pass, hitting the do-it-all back in stride 30 yards downfield, before he spun out of a tackle and went the rest of the way untouched.

In a mental lapse, Portland downed the ensuing kickoff at its own one-yard line and quickly went three-and-out. Bracamonte then took the Bulldogs’ punt 34 yards for another touchdown, and after extra point kicks, Thornton Academy had a 14-0 advantage before three minutes had ticked away.

It got worse for the Bulldogs. On Portland’s next possession, Trojan senior Grant Dow intercepted Samuel Knop at the Bulldog 26. Six plays later, Dow took a handoff and punched it in from the one-yard line to give Thornton a 21-0 lead.

“All throughout the week, we knew we had to jump on them quickly, and that’s what we did,” said Bracamonte after the game, the state title trophy tucked under his arm.

“It set the town for what we wanted to do all game long, which was go for the big plays,” said Gaudette, who finished with seven completions in 10 attempts, with 166 yards and 4 touchdowns passing.

Credit: Troy R. Bennett | BDN

After Elowitch broke away for his first touchdown run and Portland recovered a Trojan fumble at the Thornton Academy 31 on the next possession, the Bulldogs seemed primed to make a game out of it.

But Portland started its short-field drive with a false start penalty — one of 14 against the Bulldogs Saturday — and never recovered.

Portland stalled, punted, and Thornton Academy never looked back again. The Trojans went 86 yards on six plays on their next possession — including runs of 36 and 16 yards by Bracamonte — and scored on a two-yard plunge by senior fullback Thomas Palmer for a 28-7 lead.

A 22-yard lob from Gaudette to senior Derek Madore on play action, set up by a Elowitch fumble one play earlier, put Thornton up 35-7 at halftime.

Gaudette finished Thornton’s first two possessions of the second half with touchdown passes to Bracamonte — from 31 yards and 8 yards, respectively — to account for the rest of the Trojans’ scoring.

Credit: Troy R. Bennett | BDN

“Anthony is crazy,” Gaudette said of Bracamonte. “He gets open no matter who is covering him. I always know I can go to him.”

Junior running back Isaac Ofielu contributed to the winning effort with 108 yards rushing on 17 carries.

Aside from Elowitch, the offensive stat sheet for Portland was almost clean. Junior Jamal Moriba had three carries for 4 yards and Knop finished 0-7 passing.

Thornton Academy finished the season undefeated after going 8-0 in the regular season and cruising through the Class A South playoffs with big wins over Sanford (47-7) and Scarborough (53-21).

Portland went 7-1 in the regular season and defeated Edward Little of Auburn (49-15) and Oxford Hills of South Paris (21-14) in the Class A North playoffs to reach the title game.

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Seth Koenig

Seth has nearly a decade of professional journalism experience and writes about the greater Portland region.