Bristol Central football scores 22 fourth-quarter points in one-point win over South Windsor

Published on Friday, 16 September 2022 23:12


When a game is won by a margin of one point, there are countless big plays, turning points and heroes. And that was the story for the Bristol Central Rams who got big moment contributions in all aspects of the game in their exciting 31-30 win over South Windsor Friday afternoon.

The heroes for the Rams were many.

Oscar Kuzniar kicked a first period field goal, the first in many years at BCHS, for the points that proved to be the margin of victory. Geovannie Colon broke a 26-yard run on third down to keep alive the drive that put the Rams ahead to stay in the fourth period. Aiden Lamarre had an interception deep in South Windsor territory to set up the touchdown that would add to the Central lead with seven minutes to go. Colon pushed his way to score by inches on a two-point conversion play that would give the Rams a nine-point margin and a two score lead,

Tre Blair broke free for a 49-yard scamper to set up a late touchdown after the Bobcats had cut the lead back to one, Carmelo Thompson covered a rocket of an onside kick attempt after the Bobcats again closed to one, allowing the Rams to go into victory formation and run out the lock.

Nik Salinas connected with Blair for a 24-yard touchdown pass after the Rams fell behind by 14-3 midway through the third period. Anthony Paulino had a big first half interception to help keep the Bobcats off the board until the closing minutes of the half. And the unsung heroes on the front line allowed the Rams to run a grind it out offense that allowed them to rally for the win in the final period. Blair had the best offensive game of his career as he scored three touchdowns, rushed for 139 yards and was a steadying influence in the backfield all game long.

“It’s nice to come away with a win,” said coach Jeff Papazian. “There were plenty of times today when things weren’t looking all that good. But we kept at it and kept at it and eventually the momentum swung our way. I’m proud of the effort. We still have a lot stuff we have to work on but the guys really gutted it out today.”

As they did last week, the Rams started the game strong, stopping the Bobcats on three quick plays on their opening drive and then putting together a long march that ate up most of the first period clock. Salinas led the Rams on an 11-play drive highlighted by his 35-yard run when he broke out of the scrum while trying to push for a yard when the Rams gambled on fourth and one deep in their own territory. 

Salinas also hit Aidan Lamarre with a key 30-yard pass on a third down play to keep the drive going. The march finally stalled at the 13 and Kuzniar came on to kick the 30-yard field goal that gave the Rams a 3-0 lead that they held until the closing minute of the half.

“That field goal early ended up being a big part of the difference in the game,” said Papazian. “I don’t know when was the last time we kicked a field goal, but having the ability to do that when a drive stalls out is a big factor for us. We have all the confidence in the world in Oscar in that situation.

Both teams were able to move the ball, but neither was able to score until late in the half. South Windsor had a drive stall at the Central 23 and Paulino’s interception at midfield ended another threat. The Rams drove inside the 30 after that pick before the march ended on downs. The Bobcats finally put an attack together late in the half after quarterback Ethan LaGuardia connected with Joe Bemis for a 40-yard completion from deep in his own territory. Two plays later Sam Maleshanko was able to turn the corner and race 21 yards to a score. The two-point conversion gave South Windsor an 8-3 lead at the half. 

The Bobcats increased the lead to 14-3 midway through the third period as the defensive lapses that were bothersome last week continued to plague the Rams at inopportune times. LaGuardia scrambled for a big first down on a broken play deep in his own territory and on the next play found a wide open Bemis for a 63-yard catch and run that put the Rams in an 11-point hole. 

The Rams countered with a solid drive on the next series that included a 16-yard run by Johnny Rios. The only pass play of the drive was the 24-yard touchdown strike from Salinas to Blair that cut the deficit to 14-9.

The Rams got a break as the fourth period opened when they recovered a fumble at their own 40. With six straight running plays, including the big third down run by Colon, the Rams took the lead when Blair went in from 14 yards out, The two point conversion failed, but Central had a 15-14 lead.

Kuzniar boomed the ensuing kickoff deep into South Windsor territory forcing the Bobcats to start from their own seven and on the first play of the drive, Lamarre intercepted a tipped ball to set the Rams up for Blair’s eight yard run with 6:41 to play. Colon’s conversion run, where he just pushed the nose of the ball over the end line, made it a nine-point margin and forced South Windsor to try to come up with two scores for the win.

The Bobcats took only 12 seconds to get eight of those points when Maleshanko broke one for 70 yards and LaGuardia ran for the two points.

But the Rams came right back, thanks in large part to the big 49-yard scamper by Blair that set them up at the Bobcats seven-yard line. With under two minutes to play and no timeouts left, South Windsor coach Dave Hodge allowed Blair to score from the five with the hopes that his team could stop the conversion and have the chance to win.

But Salinas connected with Carmelo Thompson for 2 points and a 31-22 lead that essentially put the game out of reach with 1:50 to go. South Windsor scored quickly on two long pass plays, but when Thompson fell on the onside kick attempt with 1:26 to play, the game was over.

“That was a big play by Carmelo,” said Papazian. “That onside kick was a rocket and he managed to hang on to it.”    

The Rams spent much of the game in a new formation with no wide receivers and relied primarily on the run game “In that run heavy set the offensive line continued to push and get the job done,” said Papazian. “The other team knows the run is coming but you just have to be patient and be content with three or four yards at a time. Our guys emptied the tank out there today.”

Blair led the Rams with a career high 139 yards and three touchdowns on 11 carries. He also caught two passes for 37 yards. Salinas picked up 90 yards on 15 carries and completed four of 10 passes for 72 yards and a touchdown. The Rams did not turn the ball over.

The defense allowed the Bobcats to rack up 379 yards, much of that on three big gainers on defensive breakdowns.  But the defense also came up with three turnovers and some big stops to keep the game close.

“Defensively we’re almost there,” said Papazian. “We get ourselves in good situations with good plays and then we give up big chunks on broken plays. We have some work to do but we’re close.”

The Rams will face a formidable and generally unknown foe next week when they travel into the world of the FCIAC to take on Wilton in their annual Alliance game.

Bristol Central 31, South Windsor 30

At South Windsor High School

Bristol Central (1-1)      3   0   6   22  - 31

South Windsor (1-1)     0    8   6  16  - 30

1st Quarter

BC – Oscar Kuzniar, 30 FG, 2:44

2nd Quarter

SW – Sam Maleshanko, 21 run (Joe Bemis pass from Ethan LaGuardia), 0:47

3rd Quarter

SW – Bemis, 63 pass from LaGuardia (run failed), 6:56

BC – Tre Blair, 24 pass from Nik Salina (run failed), 1:53

4th Quarter

BC – Blair, 14 run (run failed), 7:33

BC – Blair, 2 run (Geovannie Colon run), 6:41

SW – Maleshanko, 70 run (LaGuardia run) 6:21

BC – Blair, 5 run (Carmelo Thompson pass from Salinas), 1:50

SW – Hakim Montgomery, 43 pass from LaGuardia (Montgomery pass from LaGuardia) 1:26

Individual Statistics

Rushing: BC – Tre Blair, 11 – 139, Nik Salinas 15-90. Geovannie Colon 5-35, Carmelo Thompson 8-9, Johnny Rios 3-3. SW – Ethan LaGuardia 9-43, Sam Maleshanko 3-98, Wyatt Cote 4-7, Shane Jewett 1-5

Passing: BC – Salinas 4-10 -0 for 72 yds, 1 TD. SW – LaGuardia 6-10-2 for 226 yds, 2 TD

Receiving: BC – Aiden Lamarre 1-14, Blair 2-37, Thompson 1-5. SW – Hakim Montgomery 2-25, Shane Jewett 1-17, Joe Bemis 2-103, Maleshanko 1-14.

Posted in The Bristol Press, Bristol Central on Friday, 16 September 2022 23:12. Updated: Friday, 16 September 2022 23:14.