BRISTOL - Dathan Hickey scored five touchdowns in the first quarter and the Bristol Central Rams rolled to a 61-18 win over a struggling East Catholic team Thursday night in their home finale at the Central field.
The Rams led 35-6 after one period and the game went to a running clock midway through the second period as Central increased the lead to 49-6.
Hickey finished the night with six touchdowns and 102 yards rushing while playing only a few minutes into the second quarter. He scored on four of his five carries from scrimmage and added an 87 yard kick return and a 70 yard return of an interception in a dominating performance.
“Obviously East Catholic is a team that is struggling right now,” said Central coach Jeff Papazian, “but I thought this was a pretty solid job by our kids tonight. We told them going in that they had a job to get done and they went out there and got the job done.”
“All week the focus has been on us,” Papazian added. “We told the kids that we needed to take care of our own jobs and if we did that everything would be OK. We had some young kids in there tonight and they went out there and did what they needed to do. We played a pretty clean game and took care of business.”
East Catholic opened the scoring in the game after recovering an onside kick on the opening kickoff. Running a double wing formation, the Eagles covered 42 yards in five plays to surprise the Rams with a quick early lead. David Lundy broke free for a 30 yard touchdown run to put East Catholic on top just three minutes into the game.
“It took the defense a drive to get accustomed to what that offense really looks like,” said Papazian. “It’s really hard to simulate that in practice. But the guys did a really good job of adjusting once they had a chance to see it.”
The Eagles never threatened again until the teams were three deep in substitutes and the outcome had long been decided.
But it took the Central offense very little time to find the scoring touch. Hickey opened his first period onslaught by returning the kickoff after the Eagle touchdown 78 yards for the score. The next time Central touched the ball he took it 34 yards on the first play. That run put him over the 1,000 yard rushing mark for the season.
The Rams then recovered an onside kick of their own and put together their longest drive of the night, a four play march that made it 21-6 with five minutes left in the opening quarter. After Central stopped the Eagles on downs deep in their own territory, Hickey made it 28-6 with an 18 run, then on the very next play, he snared a long pass from Eagle quarterback Harrison Eklund with a one-handed interception and returned it 70 yards for his fifth touchdown of the quarter and a 35-6 lead.
Hickey added a 30 yard touchdown run to open the second period and then retired to the sideline for the rest of the game.
Frankie Jenkins scored on a 14 yard run to give the Rams a 49-6 halftime edge and backup quarterback Nick Ruffino scored two short field touchdowns in the second half for the Rams.
Bernard Pollock set up both of those scores, first by recovering a fumble and returning it 49 yards to the Eagles’ five in the third period, and then by breaking loose for a 46 yard run from scrimmage before succumbing to cramps at the East Catholic seven in the fourth.
East Catholic scored on an 82 yard pass from Eklund to Payton Stinson late in the third period and capped a 73 yard, nine-play drive with a nine yard pass from Eklund to Tito Pasqualoni on the final play of the game.
The Rams played the game with a half dozen regulars sidelined by disciplinary or injury issues, but had a number of younger players come up big.
“When you go up against an offense like East Catholic was running you need to have guys inside who are willing to do the dirty work,” said Papazian, “and tonight Josh Carrasquillo, Jalen Boxley and Orlando Baldwin made a lot of plays happen by doing their job on the inside. They didn’t necessarily make a lot of tackles, but because of what they were doing (Mike) Guzman and (Jakob) Salinas were unblocked for a good part of the night.”
Offensively the Rams didn’t need to do much. Central ran only 21 offensive plays in the game and scored on seven of them. With Hickey the only experienced back available, Papazian did not try to mix it up very much. “Offensively we kept it pretty basic,” he said. “We had a handful of plays we liked and the offensive line did a great job once again. Dathan took full advantage of the openings those guys made for him.”
Hickey finished the night with 102 yards on five carries. He now has 1,069 rushing yards and 26 touchdowns on the season. He attempted just one pass and it was dropped. Jenkins had seven carries for 47 yards, Pollard had one carry for 46 yards and Ruffino carried seven times for 26 yards.
The Rams improved to 6-3 and have now won four in a row. East Catholic dropped to 0-9.