CROMWELL — After a tough, season-opening overtime loss to Granby/Canton, Stafford/East Windsor/Somers coach Brian Mazzone wondered where his team fit in this season moving forward.
“We lost to a good team in overtime, but it was a tough loss,” Mazzone said. “We’re so young this season, we have so many sophomores on the team, and after that first game I wondered what were we in for this season? Between our first and second game we worked on a few things and we won our second game. We had our bye the third week and we tweaked a few other things and that made us better. We started playing better, especially on defense and I started thinking we were heading in the right direction.”
If Friday’s game at Cromwell/Portland is any indication, the Bulldogs are headed in the right direction. They dominated the game, especially in the last six minutes of the first quarter when they scored three touchdowns to take control.
Tyler Ouellette completed 11-of-15 passes for 215 yards and four touchdowns and Logan Briggs caught all four of those touchdown passes to lead Stafford/East Windsor/Somers to a 44-7 Pequot Conference win over at Pierson Park. Briggs ended up with six catches for 112 yards.
It was the Buldogs’ third win in a row.
“Early in the game we were just feeling them out, trying to figure out what worked against them,” Ouellette said. “Running the ball was hard against Cromwell so we went with our strength and started passing the ball. It’s just the way things worked out in the game.
“We did not expect a one-sided game. We always respect our opponents. When we scored our second touchdown and saw the success we were having passing the ball, at that point we sensed the momentum going our way. It gave us the confidence that we could do anything out here.”
On the Bulldogs’ second possession of the game, Ouellette spotted a wide open Briggs in the middle of the field. Briggs caught the ball in stride and ran into the end zone untouched for the touchdown. Lenardi Berkais’ kick made it 7-0 with 5:44 to go in the first quarter.
The Bulldogs (3-1) wasted no time in padding the lead. On the first play of their next drive, Ouellette and Briggs connected for a 40-yard touchdown pass with 3:35 to go in the first quarter.
On their next possession, the Panthers were pinned deep in their territory with a fourth down at their 5 yard line. Matt Pepe dropped back in the end zone to punt the ball. But the ball was snapped over his head, giving the Bulldogs a saftey and 16-0 lead with 1:44 to go in the first quarter.
On the kickoff, Briggs returned the ball 37 yards to the Panthers 11. Three plays later, Ouellette found Briggs over the middle for a 6-yard touchdown pass and a 22-0 lead (kick failed) with 35 seconds to go in the quarter.
The scoring barrage continued in the second quarter for the Panthers. Brandon Gardner scored on a 35-yard touchdown run, the Panthers got another safety and Briggs caught a 35-yard touchdown pass from Ouellette for a 37-0 lead at halftime.
The Panthers came out in the second half and picked up the pace with a focus on passing. They opened the third quarter with quarterback Cole Brisson and Justin Sturgos, at least for one drive, getting in a rhythm that the Bulldogs couldn’t stop. On the 11th play of the drive, Brisson sent a pass that Sturgos caught in stride for an 11-yard touchdown with 4:19 to go in the quarter. Pepe’s kick cut the Bulldogs’ lead to 37-7
The Panthers couldn’t get another sustained drive going and Mark McLaughlin put the final points on the board with a 4-yard touchdown run and a Berkais kick for the 44-7 final.
“This is just who we are right now, we’re just not ready,” Cromwell/Portland coach Randall Bennett said. “We need to prepare better. We’re making too many mistakes.”
“After our season-opening loss we’ve been working hard to get it all to fit together,” Stafford co-op coach Brian Mazzone said. “We’re getting there.”
PLAYER OF THE GAME
Tyler Ouellette, Stafford co-op: He threw for 215 yards and four touchdowns in the Bulldogs’ win.