Bristol Central fumbled away the opening kickoff but did very little else wrong in a workmanlike 28-7 victory over Capital Prep/Achievement First Friday night at the brand new turf field facility at the Annie Fisher Magnet School.
The Rams rolled up 405 yards in total offense while holding the Trailblazers in check for most of the night. Central scored a touchdown in each quarter and was knocking on the door as time ran out. Only a 74-yard kick return after the final Central touchdown spoiled what could have been an outstanding defensive shutout performance.
"Coming in to this game we talked about the need to play a complete game," said Central coach Jeff Papazian, "and I thought we did a pretty good job of that tonight. I'm sure we'll look at the film and find a few things that we need to work on, but right now I'm pretty happy with the way we played tonight."
Preparing for the game, Papazian and his staff expected a challenge from Capital Prep because of its size up front and the athleticism of the players in the backfield. And while the Trailblazers were able to pull off a few big gainers, they were held in check for the most part by the combination of a Central offense that didn't let them have possession of the ball very much, a defense that came up big when it needed it most and their own costly mistakes.
"Their size was concerning on film," said Papazian, "but I thought our guys up front more than held their own. Both the offensive line and the defensive line did a pretty good job tonight against some pretty big kids."
Darrell Payton led the potent Central running game as he carried 27 times for 167 yards and a touchdown. Quarterback Justus Fitzpatrick also rushed for over 100 yards with 103 and two touchdowns on 20 carries. Fitzpatrick also threw for 102 yards including a 64 yard touchdown pass to Nate Rosa.
The ball control offense of the Rams was key to the victory. Central held the ball for five long drives, keeping the ball away from the Trailblazers for much of the contest. Capital Prep ran only 18 offensive plays in the entire game and none in the final period.
The Rams opened the contest by coughing up the ball on a muff on the opening kickoff and Capital Prep took advantage with a couple of pass completions to drive inside the Central 25 before penalties thwarted the drive.
Taking over at their own 20 after a touchback, the Rams marched 80 yards in nine plays, all on the ground, to take a 7-0 lead with 2:37 left in the opening period. Fitzpatrick scored from four yards and Kevin Tovar-Rivera kicked the extra point. Payton showed signs of what was to come with runs of 16 and 21 yards on the drive and Victor Rosa had a big 18-yard gain on third and long to keep the drive alive.
After stopping the Trailblazers on five plays, the Rams put together another long march to open the second period. The Rams went 86 yards on ten plays, again all on the ground, with Fitzpatrick capping the march with a 31 yard touchdown run.
Capital Prep opened the second half strong with two quick pass completions that brought them inside the Central ten, but the Rams' defense stiffened and Deklan Zukowski's interception on fourth down foiled what would be the last offensive threat for the Trailblazers.
The Rams took advantage of a fumbled punt to score on a 26 yard run by Fitzpatrick late in the third period after eating up much of the quarter with another long drive.
Central closed out its scoring midway through the final period when Fitzpatrick connected deep with Rosa on a third and 15 play and the lanky receiver outran the defense for 64 yards and a touchdown.
Makhi Bukley ran the ensuing kickoff back 74 yards for the only Capital Prep score of the night, but the Trailblazers never saw the ball again as the game ended with Fitzpatrick taking a knee at the Capital Prep six yard line after another long march.
"Defensively we had some pretty good stats tonight," said Papazian. "Unfortunately they ran the kick back and ruined the shutout but overall it was a real good job by our defense against a physical and talented team." Capital Prep had 60 yards rushing and completed five of 10 passes for 73 yards. They fumbled twice and were intercepted once and were victimized by nine costly penalties.
"It was a nice win and we'll take a day to enjoy it," said Papazian, "but then we have to get ready for next week. Platt will be a big challenge for us. It's a divisional game at home. We're excited to be playing a big game in November."
Bristol Central 28, Capital Prep/Achievement First 7
at Annie Fisher Magnet School, Hartford
Bristol Central 7 7 7 7 - 28
Capital Prep 0 0 0 7 - 7
BC - Justus Fitzpatrick, 4 run (Kevin Tovar-Rivera kick), 2:37
BC - Darrell Payton, 31 run (Tovar-Rivera kick), 7:20
BC - Fitzpatrick, 26 run (Tovar-Rivera kick), 1:43
BC - Nate Rosa, 64 pass from Fitzpatrick (Tovar-Rivera kick), 6:29
Cap - Makhi Bukley, 74 kickoff return (Julian Ferguson kick), 6:19
Rushing: BC - Darrell Payton 27-167, Justus Fitzpatrick 20-103, Victor Rosa 6-38, Jose Navedo 2-10. Capital Prep - Jeremiah Taylor 12-51, Makhi Bukley 4-21, Solomon Barlow 2- (-12).
Passing: BC - Fitzpatrick 3-5-0 for 102 yds. Cap Prep - Barlow 5-10-1 for 73 yds.
Receiving: BC - Nate Rosa 2-96, Payton 1-6. Cap Prep - Jayden Dale 1-13, Mike Slade 1-13, Barlow 2-53, Jaden Simmons 1-3.