With the Class A state football title in the balance, Bonny Eagle needed a plan to stop Thornton Academy.

Adjustments and technique aside, Scots Coach Kevin Cooper knew the only strategy.

“Sometimes, the only way to do that is hunker down and play tough, hard football,” Cooper said. “Above anything else, that’s what our kids did today.”

That they did. The Scots (11-1) celebrated their seventh state title in 16 years, with a 34-21 win over Thornton on Saturday afternoon at Fitzpatrick Stadium. The defending champion Trojans (11-1) had their winning streak stopped at 22 games.

The Bonny Eagle defense forced five turnovers, while the Scots committed none themselves.

Zach Maturo rushed for 112 yards and two touchdowns, ran a kickoff back 71 yards and also blocked an extra-point kick. Quarterback Keegan Meredith passed for 63 yards and two touchdowns. Nate Ferris rushed for 68 yards and scored two touchdowns. Jacob Humphrey made a key interception and caught a touchdown pass.

With the score tied at 14, the Scots scored late in the first half, and then dominated after halftime.

“They way they played defense in the second half was pretty special,” Cooper said.

Two interceptions and three fumbles stymied Thornton.

“We turned the ball over once the whole season and we turned it over five times today,” Trojans Coach Kevin Kezal said. “You can’t do that in a game like this.

“We just never gave ourselves a chance.”

Any time Thornton seemed to get going, either a turnover or big Bonny Eagle play followed.

Bonny Eagles’ initial possession ended in Maturo’s first-of-two failed fake punts, giving Thornton the ball on the Scots 40. But Bonny Eagle got the ball back on Nikolas Klein’s interception and 25-yard return to the Trojans 45. Bonny Eagle drove in, with Maturo scoring from the 1, for a 7-0 lead.

Thornton answered with a 60-yard touchdown run by quarterback Kobe Gaudette (117 yards rushing, 95 passing). But Maturo blocked the extra point and then ran back the ensuing kickoff 71 yards to the Trojans 16. Ferris caught a 5-yard touchdown pass and Bonny Eagle led 14-6.

Thornton answered again, with a 63-yard drive. Gaudette threw a 23-yard touchdown screen pass to Costa Gikas. An illegal-player-downfield penalty was called, nullifying the score. The referees marched off the penalty, but then they conferred. After a lengthy discussion, the refs waved off the penalty and ruled it a touchdown. Gaudette ran for the two-point conversion, tying the game 14-14.

The Trojans looked ready to take control, stopping a Bonny Eagle drive at the Thornton 45. On their first play, the Trojans had a receiver streaking open down the sideline. But Humphrey, a cornerback, quickly covered ground and made a leaping interception at the Scots 29.

“I saw the two guys going (out), over the middle for the post route and the streak,” said Humphrey, a junior in his first high school football season. “I just watched the ball. … Coach has been talking to us all week that once (the quarterback) moves his feet, that’s where he’s going to throw it.”

Humphrey’s anticipation and athleticism made for a huge play.

“That interception really swung the momentum of the first half right around,” Cooper said. “It was at a point where it might have been looking pretty bad for us. Thornton Academy dialed up a great play, had a guy open, and Jacob just came back and made an unreal play.

Bonny Eagle drove down in the closing minutes. With 1:24 left, on third-and-10 from the Trojans 33, Meredith rifled an accurate post-pattern pass to Humphrey in the end zone, and a 21-14 halftime lead.

“We have a saying that you can’t out-throw Hump,” Meredith said. “We have some plays where I throw it as far as I can, and he runs under and catches it. That was the idea when I threw touchdown pass. He’s a heck of an athlete. You know he’s going to make a play.”

In the second half, Thornton’s first possession ended with a fumble at midfield, recovered by Maturo.

The Trojans’ second possession reached the Bonny Eagle 26. On fourth-and-1, running back Isaac Ofielu was tackled for a loss. Ofielu, who gained 113 yards in Thornton’s 21-14 regular-season win over the Scots, was held to 46 yards on Saturday.

“We knew had to stop Ofielu,” Cooper said. “He’s going to gain some yards, but our kids were resilient all game.”

In the fourth quarter, two Thornton fumbles led to Bonny Eagle touchdown drives of 35 and 30 yards. With 3:56 left to play, the Scots led 34-14. They had also controlled the clock (25 1/2 minutes to Thornton’s 18 1/2).

“They had the ball the whole game,” Kezal said. “Typically, that’s what we do to teams. When we did get something going, we tended to have a really bad mistake.

“Tip your cap to them. They played a great game.”

The Trojans scored with 1:24 left – 30-yard pass from Gaudette to Hayden Pomerleau. Thornton recovered the onside kick but could get no more.

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