Windham football fought the defending champs before falling in the NH Division 4 semifinals.
MANCHESTER, N.H. — Windham wasted no time letting Trinity know this wasn’t last week. Unfortunately for the Jaguars, while the process was much improved, the product remained the same.
Seven days after a 35-point blowout loss, Windham held a fourth-quarter lead. But the defending champion Pioneers rallied for a 20-13 victory in the Division 4 semifinals at Gill Stadium.
Second-seeded Trinity (9-1) will play top-seeded Plymouth in next week’s championship in a rematch of last year’s title game.
“We thought we had a pretty good game plan coming in,” said Windham coach Bill Raycraft, whose offense ran 23 more plays and gained 204 yards more than it did in the 42-7 defeat in the regular-season finale. “Unfortunately we had a few miscues and took some chances and came up on the short end of the stick.”
The biggest gamble came late in the opening half on a fourth-and-10 at the Windham 35. When Kevin Cooney gained only five yards on the fake punt, Trinity made the Jaguars pay three plays later with a touchdown and a 12-7 halftime lead.
“The wind was picking up and quarterback/punter Joe (Lorenz) didn’t feel comfortable kicking at that point and I agreed with him,” Raycraft said. “We had a couple options. If I could put the ball in Kevin Cooney’s hands, I’m going to do it 10 times out of 10.”
Windham (7-3) gained 127 yards on its first two possessions, but the output yielded only Cooney’s 18-yard scoring run for a 7-0 lead early in the second period.
The Jaguars once again grabbed the advantage late in the third quarter when Thomas Anderson capped an 11-play, 60-yard drive that consumed 4:43 with a 10-yard scoring run on fourth-and-4.
“We had a fantastic week of practice,” Raycraft said. “Hurricane Sandy on Monday (which shutdown the school day) gave us a chance to have some fun and do some meetings. From Monday on we were confident. I don’t think there was a coach or player that didn’t think we would walk off this field a winner.”