New Colby College head football coach Jack Cosgrove fires up his team during a game against Trinity on Saturday in Waterville. Staff photo by Joe Phelan

WATERVILLE — If Jack Cosgrove can take anything from Saturday’s 35-0 loss to Trinity College, he can take this: In his first season as Colby College’s head football coach, it’s doubtful his Mules will face a team of the Bantams’ caliber the rest of the season.

“I had heard stories about Trinity and how good they were, and I got to experience it firsthand on the field,” Cosgrove said. “We played a good team, and they executed very well.”

Trinity, the defending New England Small College Athletic Conference champion, pulled away from Colby in the second quarter, to spoil Cosgrove’s debut on the Mules sidelines. The head coach at the University of Maine for 23 years, Cosgrove retired from coaching the Black Bears after the 2015 season. Two years away from the game was enough for Cosgrove, who was hired to lead the Mules a few days after Christmas.

Cosgrove’s last and only head coaching debut came in 1993. That day, he coached Maine to a 30-27 win at Buffalo.

Colby College offensive linemen Ty Mahar, left, and Brandon Troisi block for quarterback Jack O’Brien during a game against Trinity on Saturday in Waterville. Staff photo by Joe Phelan

“There’s always the newness of the first game out with a team. This is a whole new staff that I’m working with. The nerves are there for everyone. Especially the kids,” Cosgrove said. “It’s been such a long offseason. This isn’t a level where you have spring practice and you have a lot of opportunities in preseason. It’s such a short time to prepare for the game, and you find yourself even more worried. Have you covered everything?”

The Mules came out with an energy and enthusiasm their new coached liked, forcing Trinity three and out on the game’s first possession. When the Bantams got the ball back, however, they began to exert their control over the game. A 19-yard pass completion by Ian McDonald on a fake punt set Trinity up at the Colby 22. Two plays later, Max Chipouras scored on a 4-yard run to give Trinity the lead for good.

Trinity sprinkled big plays like that fake punt throughout the afternoon. The Bantams second touchdown came late in the first quarter, when Jonathan Girard caught a 97-yard touchdown pass from Jordan Vazzano. Cosgrove didn’t see the play.

“I was over talking to the offense and the punt team after we had pinned them down there, and they hit us on a deep route,” he said.

Trinity capitalized on a Colby turnover for its next touchdown, an 18-yard Vazzano to Girard connection. Chipouras added touchdown runs of 2 and 64 yards, and the Bantams held a 35-0 lead at the half.

“I told them at halftime, it didn’t matter what the score was. It was how we came out and played the second half. I thought we did a real good job of standing up to them in the second half,” Cosgrove said.

The Bantams gained 573 yards to Colby’s 167. Chipouras ran for 173, while Girard had six catches for 166 yards. While Trinity averaged 8.6 yards per carry, the Mules gained just 1.6 yards per rush. Jake Schwern carried the ball 29 times for 108 yards for Colby, but the rest of the team finished with minus-34 yards.

Colby College running back Jake Schwern tries to run past Trinity defensive lineman Nick Rose during a game Saturday in Waterville. Staff photo by Joe Phelan

“We kept trying to do the things we’ve got to be able to do. We want to run the football. I think that makes our quarterback better. At times it looked like we did that in the second half. For the most part, we’ve got some work to do in the run game. That just fits our personnel right now. That’s just the way it is,” Cosgrove said. “We’re going to spend time on this tape, because there’s obviously some things to fix, but there’s obviously going to be some things we’re going to be happy about, that we can emphasize to the guys.”

The Mules did give Cosgrove building blocks for the season. There was a blocked Trinity punt early in the second quarter. Early in the fourth quarter, freshman defensive lineman Nick Wilcox recovered a Vazzano fumble at the Colby 11 and returned it 51 yards to the Trinity 38.

“We did some things well, I thought. We’ll watch the tape and hopefully see that our execution at times was better than perhaps it looked. It’s one of those tough ones, because that’s a good team over there,” Cosgrove said.

In the second quarter, Cosgrove took out starting quarterback Jack O’Brien and went to freshman Matt Hersch for two series.

“There were a couple series in the second quarter where we didn’t throw it well. We missed some throws. We looked hesitant. So I just said let’s go with the freshman and give him a couple series. I thought we might get a spark, but we didn’t. We went back to Jack and I thought he acquitted himself better in the second half,” Cosgrove said.

O’Brien completed 12 of 21 passes for 93 yards, while Hersch was 0 for 3. Linebacker Marcus Bullard led Colby with seven tackles.

Travis Lazarczyk — 861-9242

[email protected]

Twitter: @TLazarczykMTM

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