MERIDIEN - Bristol Central turned the ball over five times in the first half and Maloney turned three of them into scores to open a big halftime edge and roll to a 49-14 win on the opening round of the CIAC Class L playoffs at Falcon Field on Tuesday.
The loss ended a nine-game win streak for the Rams who finished their season at 9-2. “I told the kids after the game that they’ve taken us on an incredible ride these last four months,” said Central coach Jeff Papazian. “They’re hurting right now, but they have to remember that they did something special that hasn’t happened in a long time around here.”
The Rams’ woes started just two plays into the game when a collision in the backfield resulted in a fumble that the Spartans’ Sean Finn recovered at the Central 31 yard line. Central’s defense held strong for three plays but on fourth down Maloney quarterback Angel Arce found a wide open Ian Graham in the endzone for the first of his four touchdown passes of the night.
The Rams ran two plays before Rashawn Shelton intercepted a Victor Rosa pass to set up what would be the Spartans longest drive of the night, a nine-play, 39 yard march that ended on a one yard run by Ken McMillan for a 14-0 lead.
The Rams countered quickly on a 59-yard touchdown run by Rosa but the Spartans came back even quicker after Joziah Gonzalez had a 54-yard return on the kickoff to set the Spartans up deep in Central territory. Arce found Austin Studley for 25 yards and a score on the first play of the drive and the Spartans were in control with a 21-6 lead after one quarter.
“The turnovers really hurt,” said Papazian. “They were uncharacteristic of what we’ve been all season long. Those early ones really stung because it took us out of what we wanted to do and a style we are used to and forced us into trying to be a team that we’re not. We had to play catch up and we did some things we’ haven’t done before and things just spiraled out of control.
The Spartans had three interceptions in the second quarter as the Rams tried to force the offense. Spencer Studley turned one of those into a 34-yard pick six to put Maloney up 28-6 before the Rams added their second score of the night on a two yard run by Rosa midway through the period. That score was set up by a 50-yard pass from Rosa to Damion Glasper to bring the ball to the Maloney 10.
The Rams hopes of climbing back into the game dimmed when Arce and Austin Studley hooked up for a 28-yard score late in the half and the Spartans closed out the win with scores on their only two drives of the second half. Arce connected with Graham for 15 yards and Josh Boganski ran it in from seven to wrap up the scoring on the night. The game went to running clock with the 35-point Spartan lead at the 4-minute mark of the third period.
It was a disappointing night for the Rams who clearly did not play to the level they have for most of the season, but a very impressive night for the Spartans, now 10-1 and set to face Masuk at home in the semifinals on Sunday. “Credit Maloney,” said Papazian. “They pounced early and took us out of our rhythm. They took away our ability to play the style of game we wanted to. They’re athletic with speed across the board. There are eleven good athletes on that defense. The lanes closed up pretty quickly tonight.”
Rosa once again was the offensive star for the Rams. He rushed 28 times for 128 yards and two touchdowns and completed four of 14 passes for 100 yards but was intercepted four times. He had been picked off only three times in the previous ten games. “Victor played hard to the end,” said Papazian. “I think he tried to do a little too much and kind of forced things tonight that led to the inetreceptions, but you can’t fault him for that. He’s carried us year.”
Papazian also had praise for two other senior captains. “I think Dan Lauretti played the best two games of his career at the linebacker spot in these last two games,” he said, “and Malachi Jones was pretty dominant on the defensive line tonight. In the end they just started running everything away from him because they couldn’t get past him.”
Arce had a strong night for the Spartans. The veteran quarterback completed 10 of 12 passes for 221 yards and four touchdowns, Austin Studley caught four for 71 yards and Ian Graham three for 57. Josh Boganski was the workhorse in the backfield for Maloney, rushing 22 times for 149 yards and a touchdown.
“We played hard. We played to the end,” said Papazian. “But when you turn the ball over against a team like that things can just get out of hand very quickly.”
Tuesday’s game was the final one for 16 Central seniors. Victor Rosa, Jarrett Boxley, Ashton Zabka, Daniel Kitmanyen, Damion Glasper, Xavier Ramirez, Justin Despins, Zach Vanasse, Gabe Tejada, Aiden Willette, Dan Lauretti, Mike Thaxter, Malachi Jones, Jaden Goulbourne, Eric Bruno and Zyren Collins all suited up for the final time for the Rams.
Maloney 49, Bristol Central 14
at Falcon Field, Meriden
Bristol Central 6 8 0 0 - 14
Maloney 21 14 14 0 – 49
M – Ian Graham 28 pass from Angel Arce (Josh Scaramuzzo kick), 9:06
M – Ken McMillan, 1 run (Scaramuzzo kick), 3:59
BC – Victor Rosa, 59 run (pass failed), 2:53
M – Austin Studley, 25 pass from Arce (Scaramuzzo kick), 2:28
M – Spencer Studley, 34 interception return (Scaramuzzo kick), 10:50
BC – Rosa, 2 run (Rosa run), 3:59
M – Austin Studley,, 28 pass from Arce (Scaramuzzo kick), 1:31
M – Graham, 15 pass from Arce (Scaramuzzo kick), 10:14
M – Josh Boganski, 7 run (Scaramuzzo kick), 4:12
Rushing: Bristol Central – Victor Rosa 28-130, Damion Glasper 3-5. Maloney – Josh Boganski 22-149, Ken McMillan 3 – 0, Zakkai Moore 3 – (-2).
Passing: Bristol Central – Rosa 4-14 -4 int for 100 yds. Maloney – Angel Arce 10-12-0 for 221 yds. Spencer Studley 1-3 for 6 yds.
Receiving: Bristol Central – Glasper 2-56, Jarrett Boxley 1-39, Tre Blair 1 – 5. Maloney – Ian Graham 3-57, Austin Studley 4-71, Boganski 1-16, Tylee Flowers 1 – 16, Joziah Gonzalez 2-19.