SACO — Running back Isaac Ofielu admitted it was a bit nerve-wracking Saturday when the Thornton Academy coaches kept calling his number with the game against rival Bonny Eagle in the balance.

“It’s a little bit scary sometimes, especially when it’s third-and-10 and you know you have to get the first down,” Ofielu said. “But I just lock in and try my best.”

Turned out the 6-foot-1, 200-pound back barreling straight ahead behind an overloaded line was the right call. Over and over again.

Trailing 14-7 in the third quarter, Thornton rallied for a 21-14 win behind two fourth-quarter Ofielu touchdowns, then a clock-eating ground-and-pound drive to kill the final 4:59 before at least 2,000 fans at Paul S. Hill Stadium.

With its third second-half comeback this season, Thornton is 5-0 and alone in first in Class A. Bonny Eagle is 4-1.

Ofielu carried 17 times in the second half for 75 of his 113 yards. His 3-yard score on the second play of the fourth quarter (and Brady Forbes’ PAT) made it 14-14. Ofielu had set up the score with a 15-yard burst up the middle on fourth-and-1, running behind an unbalanced line with Bonny Eagle having to react to a jet sweep motion during the play.

That same play worked for an 11-yard score on a third-and-10 with 7:31 to play to put Thornton ahead for the first time.

After stopping Bonny Eagle on downs, seven Ofielu runs (and one key 11-yard gain on a read-option keep by Kobe Gaudette) produced four first downs to run off the final 4:55. Thornton’s offensive line of guards Jack Rogers and Jacob Lessard, tackles Trey Tanguay and Dane Giguere, center Jack Lausier, and tight ends Tanner Lynn and Cole Michaud were winning the battle up front.

“It feels like the whole game rides on us and we love the pressure,” said Rogers, a senior captain.

Bonny Eagle had the better of play for much of the first half and scored first, taking advantage of a short field after a defensive stop and a short punt. Starting at the Thornton 35, the Scots were quickly in scoring territory after a 28-yard scamper by Zach Maturo to the 7. Maturo scored on fourth-and-goal from the 1.

The Scots had two other chances in the second quarter but couldn’t convert. Nate Ferris couldn’t come down with a fourth-down pass in the end zone that would have put Bonny Eagle ahead by two scores.

Ofielu’s first touchdown (set up by a 77-yard Peyton Jones catch and run) had tied the game with 2:06 to play.

Bonny Eagle quickly drove inside the 25 but with 15 seconds left, Keegan Meredith was sacked and fumbled against an all-out blitz.

Thornton continued to go to the blitz often in the second half.

Bonny Eagle called the perfect play against pressure on its first possession of the half, a middle screen to Ferris, who went 30 yards for the go-ahead touchdown.

But on the next Scots’ next possession, on a first down from the Thornton 39, Gaudette came free on another blitz and caused a fumble that Lynn recovered.

“I was blitzing off the corner all game and I was unblocked,” Gaudette said. “Made the play, we got the ball back and that was great.”

“You’ve got to give Thornton Academy credit. They rose up on defense, forcing those turnovers, sending pressure, really disrupted our pass game,” said Bonny Eagle Coach Kevin Cooper.

From that point, Thornton went to its power offense and it paid off.

“When we get the ball back (nearly five) minutes to go in the game and are able to run the clock out, that’s a great sign offensively,” said Thornton Coach Kevin Kezal.

 

 

 

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