MERIDEN>> Sometimes it pays to be tougher.
And Friday at Falcon Field, Bristol Central was tougher than Platt.
The Rams offensive line wore down the Panthers defensive line to the tune of a 32-14 victory in the first CCC Division II West game for both teams.
“They keep grinding it out,” Bristol Central coach Jeff Papazian said. “We don’t make any secrets about it. We try to play physical with other teams. We thought Platt (1-2) was a very physical team coming in and they gave us a really good test.”
The Panthers tested Central early with a couple of scores from Bernard Figueroa, but once quarterback Noah Cruz (169 yards and four TDs) and the Rams’ rushing attack figured it out, there was nothing Platt could do.
“They want to run the ball,” Platt coach Jason Bruenn said. “They’ve got a line to run it and the running backs and the quarterback to do it. They whooped our butts, that’s the bottom line. They kicked our butts up front. Unless you’re going to be tougher than a team like that, you’re going to get your butt kicked.”
The Rams got on the board with the first play of the second quarter when Cruz took the shotgun snap and rushed 34 yards to the end zone. They tried a two-point conversion after Platt was flagged for too many men on the field, but the try failed.
The Rams were off and running.
“We came out a little flat at the start of the game for whatever reason,” Papazian said. “I didn’t think we were ready to play a football game the first couple of minutes. We got on the kids a little bit and they did a great job, they responded. We made a couple adjustments at the half that I thought really jump-started us in the third quarter there and we were able to pull away at that point.”
Platt answered with a 26-yard run from Figueroa down the sideline, but couldn’t muster another trip to the red zone the entire game.
Bristol Central made a living inside the 20.
“As soon as you get inside 20 yards there’s no reason you shouldn’t score,” Cruz said.
Luis Medina scampered for 38 yards to get the Rams back within two after the second two-point conversion attempt failed and then the defense came up with a big stop.
Jesue Quiles returned the ensuing punt deep into Platt territory, setting up a nine-yard TD run by Cruz to give Bristol Central an 18-14 lead.
“Early on we thought we had some things going,” Bruenn said. “I thought the huge punt return they had set us back.”
Midway through the third it was Cruz again for 16 yards and towards the end of the quarter his own 42 yard run set up the final Central TD, a three yard run by Cruz once again.
“Big boys up front,” Cruz said. “Everybody’s getting it done, no one’s leaning, everyone’s driving right off the ball. We got Luis [Medina], we got Isaiah Miller, our backs blocking everything out of the backfield like they should. [We] made some halftime adjustments after that and we were hitting on all cylinders.”
For Platt it was a game of missed opportunities.
“There were some wide open guys we just didn’t hit tonight and good passes that we just didn’t catch tonight and there were some blocks that didn’t happen tonight,” Bruenn said.
Bristol Central 32, Platt 14
Bristol Central: 0 18 14 0 — 32
Platt: 7 7 0 0 — 14
(at Falcon Field, Meriden)
P-Bernard Figueroa 11 run (Joseph Mwamba kick)
BC-Noah Cruz 34 run (Cruz run failed)
P-Figueroa 26 run (Mwamba kick)
BC-Luis Medina 38 run (Cruz pass failed)
BC-Cruz 9 run (Cruz run failed)
BC-Cruz 16 run (Brett Adams kick)
BC-Cruz 3 run (Adams kick)
Team records: Bristol Central 2-1 (1-0 CCC D-II West); Platt 1-2 (0-1 CCC D-II West)