With some of the stateâ€™s top running backs coming out of the backfield on both sides, Fridayâ€™s season opener for Bristol Central at Bloomfield had all the makings of an offensive show. Instead, it turned out to be a defensive struggle marred by penalties, miscues and mistakes by both teams.Â
Â In the end, the difference was that one team was able to convert the extra point and the other wasnâ€™t as the Rams came away with a disheartening 7-6 loss in what could have been a winnable game.
Nearly all of the offense for Central came in the first quarter. Second quarter scoring opportunities were squandered away by penalties and by the second half, the Bloomfield front line had taken control of the line of scrimmage and there was very little running room for the Central attack.
â€śWe had two chances in the red zone and we came up empty both times,â€ť said Central coach Jeff Papazian. â€śWe had a lot of young kids out there and we can see that they have a lot of work to do to get ready for South Windsor next week. Itâ€™s a long season ahead of us but weâ€™ve got to be better offensively.â€ť
The Rams were whistled nine times for penalties for a total of 80 yards. Consecutive penalties for holding and intentional grounding killed a promising drive that had begun with a fumble recovery at midfield and penetrated to the Bloomfield 15 late in the first period.
Trailing by one late in the game, the Rams got as close as the Bloomfield 15 before another holding penalty and two consecutive sacks put the goal line out of reach.
But it was a defensive penalty that proved most costly for the Rams. After Bloomfield was pushed back three consecutive procedure calls on their opening drive of the second half, the Rams had a personal foul penalty added to a 20 yard run by Cornelius Patrick to set the Warhawks up deep in Central territory.
It took them five plays to cover the final 30 yards of what was a 14-play, 64-yard march that took up the first eight minutes of the half. Dallas Rose went the final yard and Mathew Miller kicked the extra point to put Bloomfield up by one. The Warhawks defense shut down the Rams the rest of the way and held on for the win.
â€śUnfortunately we were just never able to get a rhythm going offensively, â€śsaid Papazian. â€śEven some of the big gains we had early were scramble on busted plays that Victor was able to make something out of.Â It seemed like whenever Bloomfield got backed up they managed to find a way to dig out. But we were never able to do it.â€ť
Bloomfield was hit with 11 penalties for 100 yards. But the Warhawks dominated time of possession, running 60 plays to just 39 for the Rams and racked up 354 yards of total offense even with the penalties.
Despite giving up some big yardage totals, the Rams came up with some big defensive plays. A goal line stand to end the first half helped preserve the lead and a big breakup on a pass in the endzone by Zach Vanasse late in the game allowed the Rams to keep their hopes alive.
â€śFor the defense to give up seven points against a team like Bloomfield â€“ Iâ€™ll take that any week,â€ť said Papazian. â€śBut we just made too many mistakes and we have to go out this week and fix it to get ready for South Windsor. The kids played hard. But we have to get better.â€ť