MANCHESTER — It was a Thanksgiving Day football game the Trinity of Manchester players will likely remember for a long, long time, and a game Manchester Central would probably like to forget.
Trinity won its second consecutive city championship by routing Central 52-8 Thursday in the 33rd Annual Manchester Turkey Bowl at Gill Stadium.
Senior quarterback Carmen Giampetruzzi rushed for three touchdowns in the victory. Trinity also received two touchdowns from Brad Rhoades, one of which was a 55-yard interception return. Rhoades finished the game with 121 yards rushing on nine carries.
Austin Chambers (9-yard run) and Steve Letvinchuk (3-yard run) each added a touchdown for the Division II Pioneers, who completed their season with a 9-3 record.
“We came together as a team today,” Rhoades said. “It just shows how much heart we put into this game and how much we wanted it on Thanksgiving. We didn’t want the cold turkey. We wanted the warm turkey.”
It was a 16-8 game at halftime, but the Pioneers outscored the Little Green 30-0 in the third quarter. Trinity took advantage of two Central turnovers by scoring two touchdowns in a 29-second span in the third, and led 38-8 with 8:22 left in the quarter. Running time began after Giampetruzzi scored his third touchdown on a 1-yard run with 2:42 left in the third.
“It feels great,” Giampetruzzi said. “We didn’t want to go out any other way. To win this big against a team like that is awesome. After a few TDs we just drained them. They had no life left.”
The third quarter also featured a fight among several players along the Trinity sideline, but both coaching staffs and the officials managed to restore order before the situation escalated. The starters for each team were pulled before the fourth quarter.
“I have never seen anything like that third quarter in my entire life,” Trinity coach Steve Burns said. “Our kids came out fired up. They were hitting everything that moved. Their kids lost control. I’m glad my kids kept their wits about them when punches were being thrown.
“I give a lot of credit to (Central coach) Ryan Ray. After the altercation on the sideline happened he said, ‘I’m pulling my guys. This one’s over. You have beaten me, and I don’t want this one to go bad.’”
Central turned the ball over five times (four fumbles) and had a punt blocked. Trinity also recovered an onside kick in the third.
Central running back Jesiah Wade rushed for 129 yards on 25 carries, but fumbled the ball away three times. Wade scored Central’s TD on a 3-yard run and added the two-point conversion.
“Trinity certainly executed a lot better than we did today,” Ray said. “Trinity played real well today, and we didn’t. Both teams played hard, but they played better and they played smarter.
“I think probably emotions got the best of us today. Everybody fought hard to get back into it and sometimes we didn’t make good decisions.”
Central, one of eight Division I playoff teams this season, completed its season with a 7-4 record.
“These guys came out in the second half and it was going to be their game,” Burns said. “They weren’t going to let anything come between them and that trophy.”