Bristol Central dominated from the opening kickoff and rolled to a 34-0 victory over Hartford Public in the season opener for both teams Friday night. Demonstrating a balanced attack, a solid defense and a strong showing from a bunch of new players, the Rams led 28-0 at the half after piling up almost 300 yards in offense.
With four players rushing for more than 50 yards and no one topping the 100 mark, Central showed one of the most balanced attacks they have seen in many years. Jose Navedo led the offense with 182 all-purpose yards. He rushed four times for 61 and caught one pass for 64 yards and a touchdown as well as returning a punt for 57 yards late in the half.
Darrell Payton led the running backs for the Rams with 86 yards and two touchdowns on 13 carries. Quarterback Justus Fitzpatrick carried seven times for 77 yards and a pair of touchdowns. Freshman Victor Rosa romped 44 yards the first time he touched the ball in the opening quarter and finished the night with 64 on four carries.
"Offensively our skills guys were able to move the ball around pretty well," said coach Jeff Papazian. "That's the best balance we've had in the five years I've been here. We have four guys that are a threat from anywhere on the field and that's a lot for other defenses to deal with."
"We had three guys who have been there before in Justus, Darrell and Jose," Papazian added. "You expect they're going to be there. But Victor Rosa gives us another element altogether. He's a freshman but plays a lot older than he is. He was out there on both sides of the ball tonight and had a real solid game."
The Rams took the opening kickoff and marched 63 yards in seven plays, all on the ground. After Fitzpatrick went 26 yards on a keeper on the second play of the game, Rosa broke it open with a dynamic run that appeared to be a touchdown on the first play of his career, but a penalty at the two yard line kept the Rams temporarily off the board. Fitzpatrick eventually took it in from the one and Isaiah Thillett kicked the extra point to give the Rams a lead they would never relinquish.
Central' s defense stopped the Owls on their next series setting up the longest drive of the night. Starting at their own ten, the Rams went 90 yards, again all on the ground, to lead 13-0. Fitzpatrick's 23 yard run up the middle gave the Rams the score.
The next drive was set up by a long run of 31 yards by Navedo to start the march. Payton scored from 13 yards and Fitzpatrick ran for two to put Central up 21-0 as time ran out on the first period.
The only touchdown of the second quarter came on a one-play drive with 8:44 left in the half when Fitzpatrick laid a pass perfectly into the hands of a wide open Navedo who scampered 64 yards to the score. It was Central's only pass completion of the game. Thillet's kick made it 28-0.
The Rams made their biggest defensive stand of the night late in the half when they stopped the Owls with a fumble recovery at the 11. Hartford had a little better offensive success in the second half but two interceptions helped Central keep them off the board.
Navedo had a pick on the final play of the third period and Devin Love came up with an interception that bounced off the foot of the intended receiver to end Hartford's last chance of the night.
The only score in the second half was on Payton's seven yard run with two minutes left in the third period. That score was set up by the defense that stopped the Owls on fourth and inches deep in Central territory.
"Their coaches made some good adjustments at halftime and they came out and moved the ball pretty well to start," said Papazian. "But our guys settled in and figured it out and we held them when it mattered."
The Owls finished the night with 203 yards in total offense, led by quarterback Jermaine Jones who had 109 yards rushing on 22 carries and completed four of 13 passes for 35 yards. But he was intercepted twice and fumbled once and the Rams were able to capitalize.
Central ended up with 397 yards in offense, 333 of those coming on the ground despite having no 100 yard rushers. "The offensive line is inexperienced but I thought they did a pretty good job out there tonight," Papazian said. "We know it's going to get tougher for them in the next few games, but I'll take 300 on the ground any week."
With a solid win under their belts in the opener, the Rams now look toward the most challenging part of their schedule with three tough opponents coming up before they hit the bye week. The Rams will be on the road next week at Windsor, a surprise loser to Maloney in the opener.
Bristol Central 34, Hartford Public 0
at Bristol Central
Hartford 0 0 0 0 - 0
Central 21 7 6 0 - 34
BC - Justus Fitzpatrick, 1 run (Isaiah Thillett kick), 8:35
BC - Fitzpatrick, 23 run (kick failed), 3:55
BC - Darrell Payton 13 run (Fitzpatrick run), 0:46
BC - Jose Navedo , 64 pass from Fitzpatrick (Thillett kick)
BC - Payton, 7 run (kick failed)
Rushing: HP (168) - Jermaine Jones 22-109, O.C. Johnson 8-7, Kahari Palmer 7-51. BC (333) - Darell Payton 13-86, Justus Fitzpatrick 7-77, Victor Rosa 4-64, Jose Navedo 4-61, Orlando Baldwin 9-38, Shawn Rodriguez 2-8, Nick Ruffino 2-(-1).
Passing: HP - Jermaine Jones 4-13-1 for 35 yds. BC - Justus Fotzpatrick 1-2-0 for 64 yds.
Receiving: HP - Johnson 2-23, Melvin Flores 1-11, Tyler McClennon 1-1. BC - Jose Navedo 1-64.