Trumbull High’s football team used a strong performance from its takeaway-happy defense, a special team score, and a timely touchdown late in the fourth quarter to defeat Trinity Catholic, 35-27, at McDougall Stadium on Thursday night.

“They hit some big plays on us,” Trumbull head coach Bob Maffei said of the Crusaders, who fought back from a 28-6 deficit to twice make it a one-score game in the second half. “This was two young teams still finding a way.”

Trumbull is 2-2; Trinity Catholic 1-3.

Trumbull quarterback Colton Nicholas threw for three touchdowns, two to Ryan Cranston, and ran for another.

Trinity Catholic quarterback Sam Adolf tossed four touchdown passes, including an 84-yarder to Anthony Anderson to pull coach Donny Panapada’s Crusaders within 28-20 with 7:53 remaining.

Trinity forced a punt, but Trumbull’s Dan Arganese intercepted a pass at midfield for the Eagles fourth takeaway of the game.

Faced with 3rd-and-19 from the Crusader’s 27-yard line, Nicholas found Peter Schmitz for a touchdown. Cranston’s fifth PAT made it 35-20 with 1:19 remaining.

Trinity drove the field one more time, before Adolf hit Lucas Breault for a 7-yard TD with 33.4 on the clock.

Trumbull’s Zachary Brace caught the onside kick and fell to the turf to secure the victory.

“I can’t say enough about how we ran our two-minute drill (to end the first half),” Maffei said. “We ran it to perfection and then had that late touchdown drive as well.”

Trumbull led 21-6 when it took over on its 23 with 1:52 on the clock in the first half.

With Chris Briganti centering an o-line of guards Wade Dayton and Justin Schwartz and tackles Joseph Turner and Peter Cole Smith, Nicholas connected with Kyle Atherton for a 34 yard catch-and-carry and Aidan Clark for an 11-yard gain.

On 3rd and 17 from the 29, Atherton held on to the pass while being hit at the TC 10.

Nicholas then put up a pass to Cranston in the corner of the end zone. The junior out fought a defender for the 10-yard score with only 6.3 seconds left before intermission.

After the opening kickoff saw TC give the ball up on downs at its 25, Nicholas scored on a 1-yard run.

On the first play following the ensuing kickoff, Adolf used a fake jet sweep to freeze the Eagle secondary and threw a perfect pass to John Petrizzi for a 66-yard touchdown.

The PAT went outside the left upright and Trumbull led 7-6 at the 8:25 mark of the first period.

Trinity, led by Michael Kaminski and Aidan Connelly, forced a punt and a high snap gave the Crusaders possession at the Trumbull 22.

On third down, Trumbull’s Eric Palinkas not only knocked the ball out of Adolf’s grasp, but recovered the fumble on the Eagles’ 49.

Trumbull moved the chains twice, only to see each gain negated by holding or block in the back penalties and the drive stalled at midfield.

The Eagles’ Aidan Clark got his punt off under pressure, and the ball short-hopped TC’s Sam Pensiero who fumbled. Caesar Haddad recovered for Trumbull.

Jason Svec’s interception at the TC 10 ended Trumbull’s prolonged possession.

With Adam Tolk, Turner, Palinkas and Brett Nutter making life miserable for the Crusaders, they were forced to punt.

Alex Moran broke through and blocked David Broncati’s kick from the 25.

Sam Persico picked up the ball at the 13 and ran untouched into the end zone for a 14-6 lead with 10:19 left in the first half.

Palinkas, on the third play of TC’s next series, rushed hard and stripped Adolf of the ball.

A game of you take it, no it’s yours finally ended when Trumbull’s Odai Dayoub gathered in the ball at the Trinity 13.

The Crusaders defense held on downs; and the Eagles too got the ball back on downs at the TC 42.

Using the man in motion to open up its passing game, Nicholas hit Atherton for a 12-yard gain.

Avoiding two tackles, the junior QB then rolled to his right and stepped into a 40-yard scoring pass to Cranston with 2:37 remaining in the second quarter.

Trumbull’s defense had one more big play in its bag of tricks, as Turner pushed his blocker back into Adolf, knocked the ball away, and TC’s Connolly recovered.

Trumbull took possession at its 23, leading to the late TD drive and the 28-6 halftime lead.

Punts and penalties dominated much of the third quarter, including a blocking penalty that negated a 33-yard TD pass from Nicholas to Atherton with four-minutes left in the stanza.

Adolf led the Crusaders on a 70-yard drive early in the final quarter, with Breault hauling in a 5-yard TD pass at 10:21 of the period and Broncati adding one of three PATs.

On its next possession, TC saw Adolf find Anderson for his 84-yarder.