Sophomore quarterback Victor Rosa and the Bristol Central Rams made an impressive debut on the season opener Friday night. Rosa rushed for 168 yards and three touchdowns and the Rams’ defense stymied the E.O. Smith attack for most of the night as Central scored a solid 27-6 victory.
The Rams held the Panthers to just 16 yards in offense in the first half and despite giving up a long drive that led to a touchdown in the fourth quarter, played a solid all around defensive game. Ian Staubley and Tre Jones had key interceptions as the Rams kept the Panthers and speedy running back Mekhi Hayden at bay for much of the night.
“For an opening night, it was a pretty solid effort,” said Central coach Jeff Papazian. “We only turned the ball over once, we minimized the penalties and we were pretty efficient on offense. All the kinds of things that you work to accomplish in the first game.”
“And I thought we did a really good job of limiting them on defense for the better part of the game,” he added. ”They had that one long drive in the third quarter that led to their touchdown but we were bending and not breaking at that point with a solid 20-0 lead. We were just trying not to give up the big play and make them work for whatever they got.”
Rosa had a breakout game in his first start at quarterback. He was in control of the offense all night long and broke two long touchdown runs that helped the Rams put the game away late. Shawn Rodriguez and Galen Hickey gave Rosa additional support in the backfield as the Rams racked up 267 yards in total yardage, all on the ground.
Central broke out to a quick early lead with a long, 11-play drive to open the game leading to a one yard touchdown plunge by Shawn Rodriguez with 6:39 left in the first period. The Rams added two second quarter scores, first on a nine yard by Rosa after Staubley’s interception and return set them up deep in Panther territory and the second on a 30 yard romp late in the half after a short punt had given the Rams great field position.
The Central defense held the Panthers to four three-and-out series and just 16 yards in offense in the opening half. The only Panther first down of the half came on a penalty and that short-lived drive was ended on the next play by the Staubley interception.
The second half was a different story as the Panther switched quarterbacks and made a couple of other offensive adjustments. They came out strong behind star running back Mekhi Hayden to put together a couple of very olid drives.
After taking the second half kickoff, the Panthers drove to the Rams 33 before their drive stalled, but quickly got momentum back after recovering a fumble at their own 39 late in the third period.
They put together a long 12 play drive that was capped by Hayden’s 2 yard plunge with 8:08 left in the game.
Rosa countered with a 48 yard touchdown run to put the game out of reach and Tre Jones sealed the deal for the Rams with an interception late in the contest.
Rosa finished the night with 168 yards rushing on 18 carries and three touchdowns in his first game under center. He was 0 for 3 in the passing department but didn’t need an aerial attack on this night. Shawn Rodriguez carried 10 times for 52 yards and a score and Galen Hickey had 8 carries for 37 yards.
Hayden led the way for the Panthers with 81 rushing yards, 16 receiving yards and a completed pass for 6 more yards to account for 103 of his team’s 138 total yards. But most of the rest of the EO Smith offense was held in tight check all night by the Central defense.
“It was a pretty good effort all around for week 1,”said Papazian. “But there’s still plenty we have to work on for week 2.”
Bristol Central 27, EO Smith 6
At Bristol Central
E.O. Smith 0 0 0 6 - 6
Bristol Central 6 14 0 7 - 27
BC – Shawn Rodriguez, 1 run (kick failed), 6:39
BC – Victor Rosa, 9 run (pass failed), 5:18
BC – Rosa, 30 run (Eli Rodriguez run), 1:33
EOS – Mekhi Hayden, 2 run (kick failed), 8:08
BC – Rosa, 48 run (Jovan Paloka kick), 4:53
Rushing – EOS: Mekhi Hayden 21-81, Isaiah Morales 3-4, Dylan Corsini 3-23, Isiah Lovell 1-3, BC: Victor Rosa 18-168, Shawn Rodriguez 10-52, Galen Hickey 8-37, Eli Rodriguez 1-7, Ian Staubley 1-1.
Passing – EOS: Derek Stebbins 1-4-1 for 5 yds. Dylan Corsini 2-8-1 for 14 yds. Hayden 1-1-0 for 6 yds. BC – Rosa 0-3-0.
Receiving – EOS: Justin Desautels 2-11, Lovell 1 - (-2), Hayden 2-16