Windham had extra motivation for their home game vs. Trinity on Saturday afternoon, since the Pioneers knocked the Jaguars out of the playoffs each of the past two years. Windham got their redemption, defeating Trinity 49-12. The Jaguars used a slew of big plays. QB Brendan McInnis ran for a 78 yard touchdown, RB/DB Kellin Bail had TD runs of 66 and 47 yards, Kurtis Jolicoeur ran for a 52 yard score and McInnis threw a 33 yard TD pass to Joe Frake. Windham has good talent at the skill positions but they also got some great blocking up front.
"Our line doesn't get enough credit, they did a great job" said McInnis, who passed for 90 yards and 2 TDs and also rushed for 90 yards and 1 TD.
"It's easy to run when our line opens up the holes" Bail concurred.
Windham solidified its status as one of the favorites in Division II. They're big, they're fast, they're physical and they have playmakers on both sides of the ball. They're also a veteran team led by a strong group of seniors.
"We've all been playing together since 3rd or 4th grade" said Bail, who rushed for 178 yards and 2 TDs on just 10 carries and also caught 3 passes for 13 yards and 1 TD. "We're more than teammates, we're like brothers."
The game started out as a defensive battle. Windham's defense was gang tackling Trinity, led by Victor Pizzotti, Andrew Dalencourt and Matt Shea. Trinity turned the ball over on downs, and then Trinity's defense stepped up (led by Will Sheppard, Ryan Boldwin and Kegan Williams) to force the Jaguars to punt.
Then on Trinity's next drive the Windham defense continued to impress. Jolicoeur and Kyle Adamson teamed up for a tackle that went for a loss of 2. Then the Jaguars defense continued to swarm the football and gang tackle, as this time it was Bail and Pizzotti with a big hit. Then on 3rd and 11 on their own 29 yard line Trinity QB Hunter Hannon (7/14 passing for 108 yards and 1 TD) was sacked by Pizzotti. Trinity was forced to punt, and on the punt return Griffin Lyons delivered the hit of the game, leveling Bail.
That's when Windham started rolling. Bail took the hand off, a big hole opened up on the right side and Bail showed some great speed down the right sideline for a 47 yard TD run. Anthony Gallo's PAT was good and it was 7-0 Windham with 1:44 left in the 1st quarter.
Trinity answered right back just a minute later, as Saikou Bah (81 rushing yards and 39 receiving yards) broke loose for a 41 yard TD run. Bah got a good block which opened up a big hole on the left side. The 2 point conversion attempt was no good and it was 7-6 Windham with 13.3 seconds left in the 1st quarter.
Windham would then score the game's next 20 points. McInnis connected with Frake for a 33 yard TD pass. McInnis is a big kid at 6-foot-3 but he's very quick for a QB his size and has a cannon for an arm. Windham went for 2 but Keegan Williams made a good tackle to stop the Jaguars short of the goal line.
On Trinity's next drive we saw some good sportsmanship. Bah ran the ball and got tackled near his own sideline. He was slow getting up and Kevin Anderson from Windham came over, gave Bah a hand and helped him up. It's always nice to see things like that. On 4th and 2 from their own 47 yard line Sheppard was stopped just short of the 1st down marker resulting in a turnover on downs.
Windham ball, and Shane Lafond made a crucial 10 yard run on 3rd and 1. Then on 4th and 6 from the Trinity 25 yard line McInnis hit Gallo for a big 16 yard pass. That set up 1st and goal from the 9 yard line. Bah and Sheppard teamed up for a nice hit, but then Jolicoeur ran in an 8 yard TD. The 2 point conversion was no good and it was 19-6 Windham with 6:15 left in the 1st half.
The Jaguars defense continued to step up. Frake and Pizzotti teamed up for a nice tackle. Then Jolicoeur made one of the best tackles of the game, bringing Sheppard down for a 1 yard loss. It was a great shoe string tackle, and if he didn't make the play there was a lot of open space on the right side so it would have likely been a big gain for Trinity. The drive ended in a turnover on downs.
Windham ball, with good field position at the Trinity 45. Bail runs for 10 yards and then McInnis picks up 14 on a QB keeper. Trinity was hanging tough in there however, as Bah made a great play, sacking McInnis for a loss of 8 yards. But then McInnis hit Lafond for a 10 yard gain and then connected with Gallo for a 21 yard completion which set up 1st and goal on the 4 yard line. McInnis capped the drive with a 3 yard TD pass to Bail. McInnis kept it himself and dove into the end zone for the 2 point conversion and it was 27-6 Windham with 1:28 left in the 2nd quarter.
"They're a championship caliber football team" commented Trinity head coach Steve Burns. "Everyone is already picking them and St. Thomas to make the finals. McInnis is a stud QB, probably the best QB in our division and I'm sure a lot of teams in Division I would like a QB like that. We have a lot of work to do to make playoffs. We are a young team, I thought we played passive today."
Trinity ball with just 1:28 left in the 1st half. Trinity typically isn't a team that spreads the field and throws it down field much, but they wanted to get back on the board before the half to get some momentum so in this case they had to do it. They actually had success throwing it, too. Hannon completed a 15 yard pass to Sheppard, a 21 yard pass to Bah and then a 23 yard TD pass to Boldwin. On the TD pass Hannon got hit just as he threw it but still put the ball right on the money. Boldwin leaped up and hauled it in with a Windham defender all over him for a great catch. The 2 point conversion was no good and it was 27-12 Jaguars at halftime.
Windham didn't waste time taking control of the game back in the 2nd half. They ran the same play as on Bail's previous long TD run, and this time Bail broke loose on the right side for a 66 yard TD run. Jolicoeur and Gallo made good blocks down field to open things up for Bail. The 2 point conversion was no good and it was 33-12 Windham with 11:09 left in the 3rd quarter.
"We watched the film from the game we had with them last November" said Windham head coach Bill Raycraft. "They were bringing pressure in the A and B gaps, and our offensive line coach made some adjustments."
Trinity tried to answer back, but Hannon's pass attempt on 3rd and 14 from his own 16 yard line fell incomplete. The Pioneers were forced to punt. Again Windham ran that same play for Bail, and again it went for a big gain, 43 yards to the Trinity 19 yard line. Boldwin made a nice tackle for no gain, bringing up 4th and 10. Marshall Williams sacked McInnis, resulting in a turnover on downs.
On Windham's next possession Jolicoeur scampered 52 yards for his second TD run of the game. He had 73 yards and 2 TDs on just 5 carries. He ran through a big hole right up the middle and then bounced it to the left sideline and sprinted in for the score. McInnis hit Troy Peters in the end zone for the 2 point conversion and it was 41-12 Windham with 3:48 left in the 3rd quarter.
"We saw their outside backers were playing inside more and that opened up running room for us on the outside" explained Jolicoeur. "Going home early last year really killed us, so there was extra motivation today."
Sheppard made a good return on the ensuing kickoff, he's tough as nails. Jolicoeur made another good tackle (he's easily one of the top linebackers in the state). Hannon connected with Bah for a 9 yard pass, but then Anderson made another good tackle. Trinity turned it over on downs.
The big plays continued for Windham, as McInnis kept it himself and made a tremendous run for a 78 yard touchdown. McInnis showed great speed and elusiveness. Jolicoeur ran in the 2 point conversion and it was 49-12 Jaguars with 11:41 left in the 4th quarter. We had running time for the rest of the game.
"It was actually a pass play to the right" said McInnis. "But then a hole opened up and Matty Shea made a great down field block. I almost went out of bounds but was able to stay in."
Windham then started pulling out some of their starters and cruised to the 49-12 win.