MERIDEN - The Maloney Spartans took a giant step toward another CCC Division II-West championship with a solid 34-7 thrashing of the Bristol Central Rams at Falcon Field Friday night.
The Spartans took control from the opening kick and never looked back as they ran their record to 3-1, 2-0 in the division. Central dropped to 2-2 and 1-1 with the disappointing loss.
"Hats off to Maloney," said Central coach Jeff Papazian. "They were whuppin' our butts all night long. They were tougher and more physical and they made the plays when they needed to."
The Spartans jumped out to a quick lead on their first drive when faced with a third and 13 from midfield, quarterback Larue Graham found a wide open Chris Infante on the fly down the sideline and Infante took it 50 yards for a score and a 6-0 lead just two minutes into the game.
"For some reason we lost a whole bunch of momentum on that first touchdown," said Papazian. "There was still a whole lot of game left at the point but we just didn't respond. Theyu took the wind out of our sails on that score and we never recovered."
Maloney scored again early in the second period after the Rams had stopped them twice inside the one. Graham scored on a quarterback sneak to give his team a 12-0 edge,
The Rams countered with their best drive of the night, a 58 yard march capped by Dathan Hickey's 15 yard scramble. Dillon Hudson kicked the extra point to cut the gap to 12-7 and it appeared the Rams might be in business.
But it took Maloney just two plays to make it 18-7 and Central was never able to mount another sustained drive. Graham ran 28 yards on the first play and Aden Valentin took it 32 yards up the middle as the Spartans countered less than 30 seconds after the Central score.
Maloney added a late first half touchdown when Graham hit Valentin for 44 yards across the middle and the Spartans went into the locker room with a 26-7 edge. Central threatened in the closing seconds of the half, but the drive stalled under the weight of a series of penalties at the nine yard line as time ran out.
Maloney had the only score of the second half on a four-yard run by Valentin to open the fourth period. Central got no closer than the 30 yard line in the final 24 minutes. Hickey was sacked six times in the second half by a fired up Maloney defense.
"Give all the credit to Maloney," said Papazian. "They played a great game. And we made way too many penalties and mental mistakes. Now it is gut check time. We'll have to see how we are going to respond to this loss. We're making that trip to Middletown next Friday night. We'll see how well we rebound from this come Monday"
Graham completed 10 of 16 passes for 140 yards and two touchdowns. The senior quarterback directed a Spartan offense that put up 370 yards in total offense. Valentin rushed for 173 yards and scored three touchdowns to lead the offense.
Hickey had several big runs for the Rams and finished the night with 77 yards rushing to lead Central. The Spartans completely shut down the running of Darrell Peyton who had had a big night in the win over Wethersfield last week and harassed Hickey in the backfield for much of the night. Hickey completed 10 of 19 passes for 104 yards. Justus Fitzpatrick caught seven for 90 yards.