MANCHESTER, N.H. – Not content with Sunday’s NHIAA Division III state championship, the Trinity Pioneers capped off their season on Wednesday with a 35-14 victory over St. Thomas Aquinas in the first annual Bishop’s Bowl.
Trinity opened the contest with a promising ten-play drive, saw their progress stopped just short of the red zone, followed by a 14-play drive that included a 30-minute thunder delay. The Pioneers would finally get on the board in their third possession thanks to a 15-yard scoring run by junior Peter Alisandro.
Sophomore James Thibault broke out for an 80-yard touchdown run on the Pioneers’ fourth and final possession of the first half to provide the hosts a 14-0 lead heading into the break.
Alisandro provided a third rushing touchdown to start the second half, capping a six-play, 55-yard drive with a 13-yard run into the end zone. However, Trinity’s inability to make consistent near the line of scrimmage combined with Saint Thomas Aquinas junior Cameron Paquette’s persistence in the passing game after early struggles provided the Saints with a path back into the contest.
After completing just three of his 14 passes in the first half, Paquette connected three separate times on the Saints’ second drive of the second half, finding freshman Brendan McQuillen for a 17-yard scoring strike.
Thibault answered with another rushing touchdown from 20 yards out and when Paquette found senior Stone Compton on a 10-yard completion for the visitors’ second touchdown of the night, Thibault responded again with his third touchdown of the time from 10 yards out.
Alisandro sealed the victory by intercepting Paquette late in the fourth quarter, echoing his defensive heroics from Sunday in Durham.
Thibault led the Pioneers with 183 yards, followed by Alisandro’s 90 and 84 from James’ older brother John.
For John, an outgoing senior, emotions from the win were mixed with the bittersweet fact that this will probably be the last organized football game he ever plays.
“Obviously I’m happy for the guys, but I’m sad leaving because this is probably my last game,” said John. “I’m happy (for James), I’m looking forward to watching him next year. It’s been awesome being on the field with my younger brother and mentoring him and seeing him grow.”
Alisandro went 1-for-6 passing, connecting with James Thibault for nine yards total through the air.
For Saint Thomas Aquinas, all but two of their 31 rushing attempts went through senior Hunter Lessard, who finished with 135 yards on the night.
Paquette went 14-for-26 through the air for 132 total passing yards.
Saint Thomas did not qualify for the Division II playoffs, finishing the season 4-6 including Wednesday’s contest.
Trinity, including Wednesday and their three postseason wins, finishes the year 12-1, with their only loss coming on Sept. 13 at Lebanon.