The Bristol Central Rams struggled to get an offensive rhythm going Friday and fell, despite a solid defensive effort, by a 14-6 score to Wilton at Fujitani Field. The Rams dropped to 1-2 with the disappointing loss while the unbeaten Warriors improved to 3-0.
Central managed just 28 total yards rushing in the game, as they were never able to get untracked. Some strong second half passing led to 104 yards through the air, much of that coming after the Warriors had established a solid 14-0 lead.
“We just couldn’t get anything going until the end,” said coach Jeff Papazian, “and that has to be on me. I didn’t do a good enough job preparing them for this game but we’ll get right to work on Monday fixing what went wrong tonight.”
Defensively, it was a strong effort against a tough two-pronged attack.
“If you had told me at any point during the last week that we would hold that team to just 14 points I would have been every happy,” Papazian said. “The defense was not perfect by any means, but it was more than good enough tonight. Unfortunately, we couldn’t get the offense we needed.”
The Rams punted four times in the first half and did not have a first down until the next to last play of the half. They ended with a total of two yards rushing after an eight yard run on the final play pushed them into the positive side of the ledger for the first time in the game.
A 37-yard completion from quarterback Nik Salinas to Cassias Breland was the only bright spot for the Rams and that play came as time was winding down.
Wilton moved the ball better behind quarterback Andrew Acosta-Rua and running back Peter Reyes, but they also struggled to find the end zone. The Warriors’ first drive ended at the Central 36 when Aiden Lamarre recovered a fumble. Wilton caught a break to open the second quarter when a punt deflected off a Central player and the Warriors pounced on the ball at the Rams’ 25 but a penalty and a couple of incomplete passes ended that drive with negative net yardage for Wilton.
The Warriors finally put it together after taking a punt at midfield. A long pass completion from Acosta-Rua to Nicholas Walden put the ball deep in Central territory and three plays later Reyes took it in from 14 yards to give the Warriors the lead.
A missed field goal late sent the Warriors into halftime holding a tenuous 7-0 lead despite dominating the attack throughout the half.
They added to that edge quickly after taking the second half kickoff. On the second play of the half, Reyes went 47 yards and Michael Wall kicked the extra point. That would be all the scoring for the Warriors thanks to an aggressive Central defense that weathered an aerial barrage and took advantage of a series of Wilton penalties to keep the Rams in the game.
“I thought we did a real good job in the secondary containing them,” said Papazian, “and the defensive line did a nice job disrupting things up front and forcing them into mistakes, I think we were a little too athletic for them on the line and that led to a lot of their holding penalties.”
Forced to abandon their running game, the Rams took to the air in the second half with limited success. Salinas completed seven of 14 second half passes for 67yards and engineered the Rams’ only long drive of the night late in the game.
Aided by a costly Wilton penalty and successfully converting twice on fourth down, the Rams marched 74 yards to the score with just over two minutes left in the game. Salinas scored from a yard out to cut the gap to 14-6. An onside kick attempt failed and the Warriors were able to run out the clock.
The highlights were few, and mostly on the defensive side for the Rams. Aiden Lamarre had a fumble recovery and Tim Sample the game’s only interception. Jack Jones was the team’s leading tackler and Jayden Colon came up with some big sacks for the Rams.
Lamarre, in his offensive debut, caught four passes for 16 yards to lead the Rams. Tre Blair was the team’s leading rusher with 11 yards on six carries. Salinas completed eight of 18 passes for 104 yards.
Acosta-Rua put the ball in the air 27 times. He completed 15 for 155 yards, including six completions for a net of 45 yards to Thomas McKiernan. Reyes was the only man other than the quarterback to carry the ball for the Warriors and finished a very strong night with 143 yards and two touchdowns on 17 carries.
The Rams will have a short week to get back to the drawing boards and fine tune the offense before a Thursday night matchup at home against Enfield. “It’s a short week and Enfield is a much improved team. We have a lot of work to do” said Papazian, “and we are going to get right at it on Monday.”
Wilton 14, Bristol Central 6
At Wilton High School
Bristol Central (1-2) 0 0 0 6 - 6
Wilton (3-0) 0 7 7 0 - 14
W – Peter Reyes, 14 run (Michael Wall kick), 5:26
W – Reyes, 47 run (Wall kick) 11: 12
BC – Nik Salinas, 1run (run failed) 2:20
Rushing: BC - Nik Salinas 13-7, Tre Blair 6-11, Aiden Lamarre 2-2, Carmelo Thompson 5-9. Wilton – Peter Reyes 17-143, Andrew Acosta-Rua 8-2, Thomas McKiernan 1-17, Francis Hagerty 1-2.
Passing: BC – Salinas 8-18-0 for 104 yds. Wilton – Acosta-Rua 15-27-1 for 155 yds.
Receiving: BC – Lamarre4-16, Cassias Breland 1-37, Blair 1-18, Thompson 2-33. Wilton – Thomas McKiernan6-45, Nicholas Walden 3-50,Michael Wall 3-33, Peter Reyes 1-16, Jason Costa 2-11.