Kevin Cooper’s halftime message was just what the Bonny Eagle linemen wanted to hear.

With his team trailing Portland by a point in the Class A state championship game Saturday at Fitzpatrick Stadium, Cooper told his team they were going to scrap the spread formation and line up with two tight ends and a wingback.

“We decided we wanted to come out and pound it in there, and that’s what our guys did. It was fun to watch,” Cooper said.

Backed by a defense that produced three turnovers and four sacks in the second half, unbeaten Bonny Eagle powered to a 34-14 win in front of a crowd of at least 5,000 fans on an unseasonably warm and sunny day.

“We were going to run them over, chew away at the clock, and still get yards and beat them with our physicality,” tackle Zach Klein said. “I like that a lot.”

Bonny Eagle (11-0) won its sixth state title under Cooper. The Scots’ previous titles came in 2004, 2005, 2007, 2008 and 2013.


Klein teamed with linemen Matt Silverman, Parker Gammon, Jeremiah Sheehan and Kirby Morrell, and tight ends Arlo Pike and Christian Tripp to create gaps for quarterback Cam Day (22 carries, 96 yards, 1 TD), and hard-running backs Alex Sprague (15 carries, 70 yards, 1 TD) and Nick Thorne (5 carries, 34 yards, 2 TDs).

“We wanted to hit it hard and fast up the middle,” Gammon said. “We love it. We have good running backs and everyone knows that.”

Portland (9-2) had won nine straight games but lost in the state final for a second consecutive season. The Bulldogs were held to 140 yards.

“They’re bigger and stronger than we are,” said Portland Coach Jim Hartman. “Our kids fought hard in the first half. We just ran out of gas.”

The Bonny Eagle defense set the tone in the second half as it sacked Issiah Bachelder (5 of 6, 85 yards, 1 TD, 3 INTs) and also forced an intentional grounding penalty on Portland’s first series.

The Scots took over at their 34, and 12 running plays got the ball to the Portland 13. Day then used his arm to produce the go-ahead score. On fourth-and-6 from the 13, he zipped a pass to Kordell Menard, who held on despite a hit by Vinnie Pasquali and tumbled into the end zone.


With the extra point by Christian Napolitano, Bonny Eagle led 13-7.

Three plays later, Thorne strip-sacked Bachelder and Alex Smith recovered at the Portland 9.

“I knew (Bachelder) didn’t see me because I was behind him, so I just brought my arm down and karate-chopped it down,” Thorne said. “That was my goal, to try to create a play that (would) work in our favor.”

Sprague scored from the 1 for a 19-7 lead.

Portland answered with its best sustained drive, featuring toss sweep runs by Dylan Bolduc (15 carries, 65 yards), who also had a strong day on defense. Bachelder sneaked in on fourth down and Quinn Clarke’s kick cut the Scots’ lead to 19-14 with 9:05 left.

But Portland’s defense could not come up with a stop. Bonny Eagle used seven consecutive running plays to quickly move 73 yards, with Thorne breaking through a pair of tackles and rumbling 27 yards for the touchdown.


“Coach told me that was kind of the backbreaker play, the one that just snaps the hopes of a team,” Thorne said.

Thorne also had two sacks, with Klein getting in on two others.

Bonny Eagle wrapped things up with a Cam Theberge interception and 26-yard return to the Portland 11, leading to Thorne’s 2-yard touchdown run with 2:27 left.

Napolitano picked off Bachelder’s final pass, allowing Bonny Eagle to begin celebrating while it ran out the clock.

The game started much better for Portland.

After a trio of punts, Bachelder got his team moving with a 12-yard pass to Griffin Foley and a 12-yard scramble. Then Bachelder and Foley connected on a 32-yard score, as Foley went high to snatch the pass near the goal line with 6:20 left in the first quarter.


Bonny Eagle’s next possession ended with Bolduc coming through clean on a blitz and smacking Day for a 7-yard loss back to the 2. Day came off clutching his right wrist and Napolitano’s punt went 17 yards.

Portland was unable to capitalize, though, as Menard knocked down a fourth-down pass.

“That was enormous. That was the game,” Hartman said. “We score there, we win the game.”

Bonny Eagle got on the board with 58.4 seconds left in the half on a 4-yard run by Day.

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