SACO — Mark this one as improbable. But also hard-earned.
Its starting lineup still ravaged by injuries and its psyche wracked after a 49-point loss a week ago, Thornton Academy regrouped Saturday to upset previously undefeated Bonny Eagle 30-21 at Hill Stadium.
The Trojans displayed their best offensive balance and forced three turnovers in the fourth quarter to win a wild, back-and-forth game.
Quarterback Austin McCrum said the Trojans took everything they learned from last week’s 56-7 loss to Cheverus and used it to get ready for Bonny Eagle.
“We learned that we have to play as a team, not individuals,’’ said McCrum, who threw for two touchdowns and directed a nearly flawless offense. “It’s a hard game. You have to have emotions. If you don’t have it, you’re not going to win.’’
The win improved the Trojans to 5-2. Bonny Eagle dropped to 6-1 in Western Class A.
Thornton recovered a fumble deep in its territory to blunt one Bonny Eagle drive in the fourth quarter, and later intercepted two passes, first by back Greg Ruff off a ball tipped by Carter Davis, then by lineman Ian Paul, who tipped a pass to himself.
Demel Ruff ran for 200 yards and a touchdown, providing Thornton with the ground game needed to control the Scots, who were averaging 40 points per game.
“We made the big plays we need to make,’’ said Trojans Coach Kevin Kezal, “and that’s why we won.’’
They included converting two fourth-down plays and a huge third-and-22 deep in their end.
The third-down conversion might have been the game’s biggest, changing the momentum from the Scots to the Trojans.
Trailing 7-0 and not moving the ball, the Trojans faced a third-and-22 at their 13. Ruff ran right, broke through the line, shook off one tackle, then headed to green space. Seventy-five yards later, he was dragged down by Jon Woods.
“I just got the ball and it opened up,’’ said Ruff. “And I kept running.’’
That led to the first fourth-down call: fourth-and-1 at the Bonny Eagle 3. Ruff got two yards, then added the last on the next play for the touchdown.
It was 14-14 when the Trojans put together a frantic drive at the end of the second quarter that culminated in a 19-yard field goal by Chris Camire.
Bonny Eagle came back with a touchdown on its first drive of the third quarter, an 11-yard run by Woods, his second touchdown. Isaiah Reynolds’ PAT made it 21-17.
Back came the Trojans with another fourth-down conversion. This one resulted in a touchdown, a 7-yard pass from McCrum to Cody Lynn, the second time they hooked up for a score.
“They’re a good offensive team and we felt we needed to score,’’ said Kezal. “We felt we had something that was going to work. And it did.’’
The Scots came back, but Woods fumbled inside the Trojans’ 10. That led to an eight-play, 98-yard drive that ended with a 1-yard touchdown run by Justin Boure that made it 30-21.
The next two Bonny Eagle drives ended in interceptions.
“Give Thornton Academy all the credit,’’ said Scots Coach Kevin Cooper. “After last week’s loss I’m sure it was hard to come back. They just played extremely hard all game long. Credit to those guys.’’
This was a statement game for the Trojans. And they made a loud one.
“I think today we proved we can play with anyone,’’ said Ruff.
Mike Lowe can be reached at 791-6422 or at: