HARTFORD - With 415 yards in total offense and a solid all-around defensive effort, the Bristol Central football team walked away from the new turf field at Hartford’s Annie Fisher School with a solid 28-7 victory over Capital Prep Friday night after what their coach called their most complete game of the season.
The Rams came close to pitching a shutout against the undermanned Trailblazer squad. Only a late-game run back of a kick return spoiled what was a near perfect night for the Central defense.
“It was a real good job by our defense against a physical and talented team,” said coach Jeff Papazian.
But the best defense for the Rams was their offense. The Rams kept the ball out of the hands of the Capital Prep attack for a good chunk of the game, including all of the fourth quarter.
The Trailblazers ran only 28 penalty-free plays in the entire game and were held to just three first downs in each half, as the Rams forced five punts and two turnovers.
In what has become a theme for the Rams during their current win streak, ball control offense was key.
The Rams ran 61 plays and picked up 19 first downs in the contest, keeping the ball on the ground for most of the night and coming up big on third down over and over in the game.
Central had six drives of nine plays or more, eating up much of the clock. The Rams scored on their first two possessions of the game to take a 14-0 halftime lead. The first came after an 80-yard drive on a 4-yard run by Justus Fitzpatrick. The second was a march of 86 yards capped by a 31-yard run by Darrell Payton.
Capital Prep had its only consistent offensive success to open the second half.
The Trailblazers connected on a couple of long passes and had a big 16-yard run to advance to Central’s 5-yard line. But Deklan Zukowski came up with two big plays for the Central defense, first making a tackle for loss on third down and then stepping in front of a pass for an interception on fourth down to end the threat.
The Rams followed that stop with another long drive, eventually scoring on a 26-yard run by Justus Fitzpatrick.
After sticking to the ground for most of the game, the Rams took to the air for their final touchdown. Facing third and 15 at his own 36, Fitzpatrick launched a long pass down the sideline. Nate Rosa outleaped two defenders to haul it in and race to the end zone for a 64-yard completion play that made it 28-0.
Rosa and Fitzpatrick hooked up once more on a big third down play to keep the Rams’ final drive alive.
The Rams ended the game by taking a knee at the Capital Prep 6-yard line after holding the ball for the final six and a half minutes of the game.
Fitzpatrick and Payton both rushed for over 100 yards as Central put up 313 yards on the ground. Payton was the workhorse in the game with 169 yards and a touchdown on 28 carries. Fitzpatrick carried 19 times for 101 yards and scored twice.
Fitzpatrick also passed for 102 yards and a touchdown. He completed three of five passes. Nate Rosa caught two of them for 96 yards and a touchdown.
“Coming into 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.”
“I thought our offensive and defensive lines did a pretty good job tonight,” Papazian added. “Our guys up front more than held their own.”
Marcos Ocasio came up with a fumble recovery on a muffed punt for the Rams as the special teams unit also had a solid game.
The Rams improved to 4-3 overall with the victory and are unbeaten since their bye week.
They will face the biggest challenge to that streak this week when they welcome Platt for homecoming on Friday night. The Panthers are 5-1 and lead the CCC Division II-West race with a perfect 3-0 divisional mark.
Facing the high-powered Platt offense that has put up nearly 200 points in six game, the Rams will need to control the ball and the clock as they have done in the last three weeks.
“Platt will be a big challenge for us,” said Papazian, “but we are excited to be playing a meaningful game in November.”