Nate Ferris pounds toward the end zone for a BE touchdown. Adam Birt / American Journal

SACO—Bonny Eagle battled rivals TA on Saturday afternoon, Oct. 5, and held a slight edge for most of the game – most of it, but not enough of it. Zach Maturo and Nate Ferris scored picturesque TDs for the Scots and the team’s defense stood on its head through three-plus quarters, but the Trojans surged late to steal victory from their guests. 21-14 the final.

“Anytime that the other team makes plays,” Bonny Eagle head coach Kevin Cooper said, asked if the tide turned at a particular point. “That’s what Thornton Academy did; they turned us over. That was some great defense that they played, rising up to get the ball back. Those types of things, when you have chances and you don’t finish, momentum gets switched. That’s how football works.”

TA began with the ball, and fought from their own 13-yard-line into Scots territory – all the way to fourth and third at Bonny Eagle’s 25. BE didn’t make the drive easy-going: Maturo, Garison Emerson and John Dugan turned in key defensive plays to halt the Trojans and force a turnover on downs.

Thornton thwarted Bonny Eagle’s first drive, too. Nevermind that Maturo began it with a 22-yard run; it died on the table three snaps later. Maturo punted beautifully, trapping the Trojans deep in their own territory. From first and 10 at their own three, TA advanced no further than their own eight. Bode Day Coombs and Nolan Davis, along with Ferris, Maturo and Alex Dyer, logged good work on the stop.

“Our defense can play,” Cooper said, “We didn’t get the stops we needed to in the second half, but we’ve got good players on defense. We haven’t played our best game yet. Obviously we’ve gotta go back to the drawing board against these guys, and keep fixing things and keep improving.”

Thornton punted, but their kicker sky-ed it, and BE took possession at the Trojans’ 35. Maturo chewed threw a big chunk of those 35 with a 28-yard dash rightward: first and goal at the TA seven. Two downs later – from third and goal at the seven – Maturo picked up six more; from fourth and goal at the one, he wormed through the pack and over the goal line. Cam MacDonald split the uprights for 7-0.

The Trojans were playing catchup, but they wouldn’t gain on the Scots quite yet: Their follow-up drive ended in a punt. Bonny Eagle took over at their own two-yard line. QB Keegan Meredith found receiver Jake Humphrey on first down and Humphrey took off running for 32.

Ferris added one up the middle, Meredith hit Maturo for four. Fourth down. Maturo ran for three; BE were on the move – slowly, but surely.

A holding flag cost the Scots 10, setting them up with first and 17 at their own 47. Ferris ran for eight and Meredith for four; Meredith then faked a handoff to Maturo and grabbed 20 more. First and 10 at the TA 21 – but that soon devolved into fourth and four at the TA 15.

A field-goal from that distance might’ve been a tall order. MacDonald is good, but every yard, every foot, every inch, between a kicker and the uprights can sink a try. So Cooper & Co. went for it: Meredith hurled for Ferris – but the pass fell incomplete.

The Trojans took over deep in their own end, and proceeded toward midfield. QB Kobe Gaudette hit Peyton Jones for a long gain – for first and 10 at BE’s 15. The Scots defended admirably as TA crawled closer to the goal line, and Trojan Isaac Ofielu – somehow, even faced with Ferris, Day Coombs, Dyer, Davis and Cam Gardner – picked up first and goal at the four.

Ofielu shoved his way home on his next run and kicker Brady Forbes hit the PAT to balance the tally at 7-7.

7-7 is where things stood at the break.

The Scots opened the second half in possession; they took advantage of the opportunity. Humphrey returned the kickoff to Bonny Eagle’s 38; Ferris gained a yard up the middle, Meredith broke away for 22, Ferris grabbed 16 more. The Scots lost five on a false start, and another when Trojan Sam Edborg took Maturo down behind the line of scrimmage, but Meredith found Ferris after that for a screen pass. Ferris converted for a TD and MacDonald for a PAT. 14-7.

But TA gradually seized the momentum, and Ferris’s touchdown proved Bonny Eagle’s last of the afternoon. BE continued to turn in good plays on both sides of the ball; Thornton merely turned in more.

The Scots kept up their intrepid play-calling. Maturo converted on a fake punt – he’s an ace at it – and Humphrey nearly converted on another: Pressured hard, Humphrey leapt and threw (yeah, threw!) for Cam Gardner. The ball hit the turf just out of Gardner’s diving reach.

“That’s our philosophy this year on fourth down,” Cooper said about the gutsy calls. “We’re going to run the rugby punt right now. We don’t have that guy to just stand back there and boom it 40 yards. So we’re going to rugby punt, take our chances. We believe in it. When Zach was hurt, we believe in it with Hump. When you’re snapping to the kid that we feel is the best football player in the State, sometimes you’ve got to let him go make plays for you, and that’s what I feel with Zach Maturo.”

Ofielu added his second score of the day – on a three-yard run – near the start of the fourth, and his third of the day, on an 11-yard run, midway through the stretch. Now Bonny Eagle were playing catchup.

Humphrey returned the kickoff, reaching the Scots’ own 43 – another fantastic run. BE fought; they crept across midfield as far as the TA 41. But they faltered there, with a pair of Meredith pass tries missing their mark. Trojan Daniel Tarbox harassed Meredith on both plays, forcing the incompletions.

Under 5:00 remained, and TA chewed through the time successfully. The Scots needed a stop, but couldn’t create one: Thornton dug up a couple first downs and maintained possession until the final buzzer tolled.

“If it was 21-14, Bonny Eagle right now, it really wouldn’t change what’s going to happen in a month. It really wouldn’t,” Cooper said. “We can feel bad about losing this game, and I’m sure Thornton Academy is going to feel great about winning this game. If it was 21-14 and our guys were jumping around and their guys were all bummed out, it wouldn’t change what’s going to happen in November anyways. We’re going to keep trying to play our best game in the future.”

“Two years ago, we won done here, and we felt great coming off the field,” Cooper said. “And we had to come back here in the playoffs, and we got beat. So we’re going to try to keep learning. High school sports is a learning situation.”

Jake Humphrey cuts on the run for BE. Adam Birt / American Journal

The Bonny Eagle line – including John Dugan (67) – gets set. Adam Birt / American Journal

Chase Graves preps for the snap. Adam Birt / American Journal

Bonny Eagler Will Horton (75) blocks; behind him, the snap sails towards the waiting hands of hits QB, Keegan Meredith. Adam Birt / American Journal

Scots John Dugan (67) and Shaun Brilliant (12) pair up for a block. Adam Birt / American Journal

Shaun Brilliant races toward the action. Adam Birt / American Journal

The BE O-line, including center Garrett Gonyea (51) line up for a snap. Adam Birt / American Journal

BE’s Nolan Davis (40) turned in a superb defensive effort, despite his boys’ loss. Adam Birt / American Journal

Bonny Eagle standout Zach Maturo ditches a would-be TA tackler. Adam Birt / American Journal

Bonny Eagler Nate Ferris will soon emerge from this dogfight in successful possession of a pass attempt from his QB. Adam Birt / American Journal

Keegan Meredith collects a snap. Adam Birt / American Journal

Nate Ferris carries for the Scots. Adam Birt / American Journal

Bonny Eagler John Merrill zips toward the play. Adam Birt / American Journal

Nate Ferris pounds toward the end zone for a BE touchdown. Adam Birt / American Journal

Zach Maturo wends his way through the pack and over the TA goal line. Adam Birt / American Journal

Jake Humphrey reels in a pass. Adam Birt / American Journal

BE QB Keegan Meredith receives the snap. Adam Birt / American Journal

Garison Emerson trips TA ball-carrier Isaac Ofielu. Adam Birt / American Journal

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