NHIAA Football: Trinity, Plymouth Div. IV finalists
Trinity's Austin Chambers dives into the end zone to put Trinity ahead at the half. (Bruce Taylor/Union Leader)
MANCHESTER - The difference between Trinity of Manchester's 35-point victory over Windham during the regular season and Saturday's Division IV playoff game between the same teams?
This time Windham fought back.
Third-seeded Windham was in position to pull off the upset, but second-seeded Trinity scored midway through the fourth quarter and extended its season with a 20-13 come-from-behind victory at Gill Stadium.
Windham led 13-12 until Trinity quarterback Carmen Giampetruzzi hooked up with Tristan Theroux for an 8-yard touchdown pass with 6:05 to play. Fullback Ryan Carrier capped the scoring when he ran in the two-point conversion.
"We told the kids all week it was going to be different," Trinity coach Steve Burns said. "They talked about resting some guys (in last weekend's regular-season game). When it's do or die, it's a lot different than if you know you have another week to live - another week to fight. I can't give enough credit to our kids. They came from behind twice."
Giampetruzzi completed 6 of 7 pass attempts for 115 yards.
"We said, 'If they're going to beat us, they're going to have to do it throwing,'" Windham coach Bill Raycraft said. "We know how potent they are on the ground. We felt if we could put them in a position to do something that they're not used to doing we might get a pick or a dropped ball or something. They executed."
Trinity, which beat Windham 42-7 last weekend, improved its record to 9-1 and will face top-seeded Plymouth in Saturday's Division IV championship game. Trinity beat Plymouth to win last year's Division IV title.
Windham moved the ball to the Trinity 44-yard line on its final possession, but quarterback Joe Lorenz came up short on a fourth-and-two play and Trinity took possesion with 2:48 to play. The Jaguars completed their first season in Division IV with a 7-3 record.
"We have a couple plays for short yardage," Raycraft said. "We rolled the dice a little bit and thought maybe they would bite with Cooney (fullback Kevin Cooney) because he had been running the ball. I'd do that again. It's a situation where I think it could have been there."
Windham grabbed a 7-0 lead when Cooney scored on an 18-yard run in the second quarter, but Trinity led 12-7 at the half thanks to second-quarter TDs from Carrier (4-yard run) and Austin Chambers (6-yard run).
Trinity's second TD came three plays after Windham tried a fake punt in a fourth-and-10 situation, but came up 5 yards short. Trinity took over on Windham's 35-yard line with 1:25 to play.
"The wind was picking up and Joe (Lorenz) didn't feel comfortable kicking at that point - and I agreed with him," Raycraft said.
Trinity dropped a 36-14 decision at Plymouth earlier this season.
"Plymouth is a phenomenal football team," Burns said. "Turnovers hurt us that day, but they outplayed us."
Plymouth 42, St. Thomas 17
At Plymouth, the top-seeded Bobcats (10-0) erased a 10-7 halftime deficit by scoring 21 points in the third quarter.
Fullback Brandon Goodale rushed for 120 yards and two touchdowns in the victory. Plymouth also received three TDs from fullback John Thomas.
"St. Thomas came to play," Plymouth coach Chuck Lenahan said. "We had some turnovers and penalties in the first half. The kids went out in the second half and played a lot better."
Fourth-seeded St. Thomas, which moved up to Division IV after winning the Division V championship last year, completed its season with a 6-4 record. Plymouth beat St. Thomas 38-0 during the regular season.
Plymouth will be at home for Saturday's Division IV championship game against Trinity.
"We know it's gonna be as tough as it gets," Lenahan said. "They're big, physical and there's nothing they can't do on offense. They can put a hurt on you real quick. The first game was a lot closer than the score indicated."