SACO — Just a few plays into Saturday’s game against Windham, Thornton Academy got an indication that this one would be a bit different from its first three games.

Not that it really needed a reminder.

The two-time defending Class A state champions fell behind for the first time this season when Windham’s Tanner Bernier returned an interception for a touchdown, and though the Golden Trojans answered quickly, they never did pull away. They did enough, though, to improve to 4-0 with a 17-13 victory.

“To our kids’ credit, they overcame a lot (today),” said Thornton Coach Kevin Kezal. “They overcame not playing their best football. They overcame some turnovers. We gave up a score defensively and had some weird bounces. To our credit, we were resilient enough to come out with a win. I am really proud of that.”

Senior quarterback Michael Laverriere rushed for 174 yards on 26 carries, including touchdown runs of 1 and 14 yards.

“Whenever we play Windham we expect a good game,” Laverriere said. “These guys are tough. They beat us last year and we beat them in the (state final) two years ago. It’s kinda like the new rivalry for us.”

Neither team scored in the second half. However, Windham (2-2) had a chance to pull off the upset when it took possession at its own 26 with 8:22 remaining.

The Eagles put together their best drive of the second half, but a holding penalty on first-and-10 at midfield forced them to throw. After a pass from Desmond Leslie to Bernier put the ball at the Thornton 46, Cameron Houde broke up a pass on third down and was one of a group of Trojans to pressure Leslie on a fourth-down incompletion.

Thornton then ran out the final 3:52 with three first downs, none bigger than sophomore Anthony Bracamonte’s 8-yard sweep on third-and-7 with a little less than two minutes left.

“We had a chance to win at the end. That’s what you want,” said Windham Coach Matt Perkins. “We’ll learn from it and take the next step.”

Bernier opened the scoring with a 28-yard interception return on the third play from scrimmage. The extra-point attempt hit an upright.

Thornton was undeterred, marching 65 yards on eight plays. Laverriere began the drive with a 33-yard keeper and finished it with a 1-yard sneak.

Thornton stalled on its next two drives, missing a field goal and fumbling. But with 5:50 remaining in the first half, Laverriere again found the end zone for a 14-6 lead.

“Michael does a lot for us. We asked him to do a lot today,” Kezal said. “He had a great game.”

Windham trimmed the deficit to 14-13 when Blake Houser took a screen pass 21 yards for a touchdown.

Thornton’s Cameron Cadorette kicked a 25-yard field goal 13 seconds before intermission.

Kezal said a tight game should bode well for the Trojans later in the season.

“We (often) talk about adversity and success,” he said. “At some point during the season you are going to face adversity and you’re going to have to overcome it. Today, I am real proud of our kids; we learned a lot today. We have some things we have to improve upon, but we got a win today. That’s the bottom line.”