WATERVILLE — If Jack Cosgrove can take anything from a 35-0 loss to Trinity on Saturday, it’s this: In his first season as Colby College’s football coach, it’s doubtful his team will face a tougher opponent.

“I had heard stories about Trinity and how good they were, and I got to experience it firsthand on the field,” Cosgrove said. “We played a good team and they executed very well.”

Trinity, the defending New England Small College Athletic Conference champion, pulled away in the second quarter to spoil Cosgrove’s debut with the Mules. After 23 years, he retired as the Black Bears’ coach following the 2015 season. Two years away from the game was enough for Cosgrove, who was hired by Colby a few days before Christmas.

Cosgrove’s other head coaching debut came in 1993 when Maine won at Buffalo, 30-27.

“There’s always the newness of the first game out with a team. This is a whole new staff that I’m working with. The nerves are there for everyone, especially the kids,” Cosgrove said.

“It’s been such a long offseason. This isn’t a level where you have spring practice and you have a lot of opportunities in preseason. It’s such a short time to prepare for the game and you find yourself even more worried. Have you covered everything?”

The Mules came out with energy and enthusiasm, forcing Trinity three-and-out on the game’s first possession. But when the Bantams got the ball back, they began to exert their control. A 19-yard pass by Ian McDonald on a fake punt set Trinity up at the Colby 22. Two plays later, Max Chipouras scored on a 4-yard run.

The second touchdown came late in the first quarter when Jonathan Girard caught a 97-yard pass from Jordan Vazzano. Cosgrove didn’t see the play.

“I was over talking to the offense and the punt team after we had pinned them down there, and they hit us on a deep route,” he said.

Trinity capitalized on a turnover for its next touchdown, an 18-yard Vazzano-to-Girard connection. Chipouras added touchdown runs of 2 and 64 yards, and the Bantams led 35-0 at the half.

“I told them at halftime, it didn’t matter what the score was. It was how we came out and played the second half. I thought we did a real good job of standing up to them in the second half,” Cosgrove said.

The Bantams gained 573 yards to Colby’s 167. Jake Schwern carried 29 times for 108 yards for Colby, but the rest of the team had minus-34 rushing yards.

“We kept trying to do the things we’ve got to be able to do. We want to run the football. I think that makes our quarterback better,” said Cosgrove.

“At times it looked like we did that in the second half. For the most part we’ve got some work to do in the run game. That just fits our personnel right now. That’s just the way it is. We’re going to spend time on this tape because there’s obviously some things to fix, but there’s obviously going to be some things we’re going to be happy about that we can emphasize to the guys.”

The Mules did give Cosgrove things to build on. There was a blocked Trinity punt early in the second quarter. Early in the fourth quarter, freshman Nick Wilcox recovered a Vazzano fumble at the Colby 11 and returned it 51 yards.

“We did some things well, I thought. We’ll watch the tape and hopefully see that our execution at times was better than perhaps it looked. It’s one of those tough ones because that’s a good team,” Cosgrove said.

In the second quarter, Cosgrove took out quarterback Jack O’Brien and went to freshman Matt Hersch for two series.

“We missed some throws. We looked hesitant. So I just said let’s go with the freshman and give him a couple series. I thought we might get a spark, but we didn’t. We went back to Jack and I thought he acquitted himself better,” Cosgrove said.