Trumbull High head football coach Bob Maffei held his head up and told his team to do so as well following the Eagles’ 17-10 loss at St. Joseph High on Thanksgiving Day.

“We were right in the game, but they made more plays than we did and deserved to win,” Maffei said. “We were right in this game (down 3-0) and had a good first drive in the second half but couldn’t pick up the two yards running the ball.. We have a bright future...We played a lot of young kids and we matured as a team every week.”

Trumbull finished its season at 5-4. St. Joseph improved to 7-2 and qualified for the Class M state playoffs.

Trumbull had opened the third quarter with a 76-yard drive that culminated with the reliable Ryan Cranston kicking a 21-yard field goal to tie the game.

The Eagles, behind the blocking of Justin Appleby, Cory Haslam, Desmond Washington, Joseph Turner and Jake Dudal,  had moved from their 22-yard line to the Cadets’ 9. Junior quarterback Johnny McElroy connected with Danny Hoffmann on three passes and Dwight Patrick Daley latched onto an 11-yard reception to keep the chains moving.

Field position, and with it the game, switched on St. Joseph’s next possession.

Kris DiCocco had two hits from his linebacker position and Troy Murray dropped Kevin Trefz for a one-yard loss after a catch, and the Cadets were forced to punt from their 41-yard line.

Cameron Ryan’s boot was downed at the Eagles’ 8-yard line, where St. Joseph held and got the ball back on the Trumbull 43. Seven plays later, Robbie Miller scored on 3rd-and-goal from the two for a 10-3 lead.

Another empty series for the Eagles led to the Cadets extending their edge to 17-3 in the fourth quarter.

Trumbull’s defense kept battling while the offense struggled.

Jake Dudal, Cory Haslam, Joseph Turner were effective up front with Jonathan DeRosa playing a lights-out game at linebacker. Joey Ryan, Ryan Kelly and Angelo Tuccinardi were all in on multiple tackles.

Two stops by Ryan, a quarterback sack by Turner, and timely timeouts called by Maffei, gave Trumbull the ball back with only 1:49 left on the clock.

McElroy, who completed 25-of-47 passes for 270 yards, was at his best here — and so was Hoffmann

Hoffman had catches good for 16, 12 and 10 yards on consecutive plays to move the ball from the Eagles’ 28-yard line to the Cadets 34. Nathan Brunetti caught his second ball on the game to get to the 30, where Trumbull used its final timeout with 1:05 remaining.

On 4th-and-6, Markeese Woods took a screen pass for a 14-yard gain to the 14. Trevor Arganese and Dustin Siqueria made catches to gain a 1st-and-goal from the 9.

McElroy ran for a 3-yard touchdown, Cranston kicked the PAT, and with 5.4 seconds left Trumbull trailed by one score.

St. Joseph recovered the onside kick to put the game away.

“We’re disappointed, but we have great character as a team,” Maffei said. “Great character. We started four sophomores out there today, so I’m very excited about the future.

“Our senior captains provided great leadership...I’m proud of all our seniors and how they prepared themselves and this team each week.”

Eagle notes: Cory Haslam earned Trumbull’s MVP Award. Danny Hoffmann had 11 catches for 135 yards. Markeese Woods caught four passes for 22 yards. Dwight Patrick Daley had two catches for 20 yards.