SACO — Harry Bunce never lost sight of the big picture. Not when Thornton Academy fell short in its first two games of the football season, not when the Trojans were sitting at .500 after eight.

So when the Golden Trojans needed one yard to convert on fourth down Saturday and effectively sew up a 21-13 victory over Bonny Eagle in the Class A South regional final, Bunce delivered.

It was his only carry of the game. It was good for five yards. It allowed top-seeded Thornton Academy to run out the clock before a crowd of 1,074 at Hill Stadium.

“My goal at the beginning of the season was to make it to the state title game,” said Bunce, a senior linebacker and fullback. “Not for a second did I think we wouldn’t make it. We were a little rusty in the beginning of the season, but I knew deep down we had it in us to go to the end.”

Thornton Academy (7-4) will play Portland (10-0) next Saturday at 11 a.m. at Fitzpatrick Stadium in Portland. The teams met in their season opener back in September, with the Bulldogs winning 35-28.

The Trojans never trailed Saturday, jumping to an early 14-0 lead and taking a 21-7 edge into the fourth quarter. Senior quarterback Wyatt Benoit ran for touchdowns of 61 and 63 yards and caught a short flea-flicker pass for another score. He finished with 189 rushing yards on 17 carries.


“Give credit to my offensive line and my wide receivers for blocking,” Benoit said. “They made the gaps and I was able to shoot them.”

Third-seeded Bonny Eagle (7-4) drove 77 yards in the fourth quarter to pull within a touchdown and a 2-point conversion. Quarterback Terrell Edwards completed seven passes on the drive, all in the 8-to-12-yard range, and capped it with a 4-yard run to make it 21-13.

Thornton senior Sam Nelson blocked the point-after kick attempt to keep the margin at eight points with 3 minutes, 37 seconds remaining.

Preparing for an onside kick attempt, Thornton stationed 10 players near midfield and left one deep. Bonny Eagle’s Kyle Blaney pooched a kick over the forward wall but Thornton recovered. The Trojans drained the rest of the clock by running the ball seven times, drawing the Scots offsides twice and taking a knee twice.

“We thought we were in decent shape to have another shot at it,” said Bonny Eagle Coach Kevin Cooper. “What you always want to do on offense is be able to control the ball and be able to run out the clock, so give Thornton credit for being able to do that.”

Edwards was Bonny Eagle’s workhorse. He carried 21 times for 78 yards and two touchdowns. He also completed 12 of 26 passes for 166 yards. The Trojans sacked him four times and intercepted two passes.


Bonny Eagle twice lined up in punt formation before rubgy-style kicker Brandt Abbott ran for a first down. It was a blocked punt by Ben Augustino that set up the Scots’ first scoring drive, of 33 yards.

Edwards hit Abbott over the middle for 28 yards and then ran twice to cover the remaining five yards. Abbott’s kick cut Thornton’s advantage in half, 14-7.

Thornton scored on its second and third possession, both into a brisk wind. Benoit broke off a 61-yard touchdown run and, after an interception by Zach Nelson, capped a short drive with an 8-yard reception from Xander Cantara following two handoffs in the backfield.

“That quick start certainly helped us,” said Thornton Coach Kevin Kezal. “If you’re going to beat a Bonny Eagle team, you’re got to play a great 48 minutes and overcome some stuff. It was a great team effort.”

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