BRISTOL - With a 13-7 lead going into the half, the Bristol Eastern football team was playing solid defense and moving the ball well on offense.
The lack of offense for the Lancers throughout the second half and missed opportunities led to the 14-13 loss to Wethersfield Friday night.
In the first half, Bristol Eastern got the ball to start and after five carries by Ariza Kolloverja, Justin Marshall got his first passing attempt of the night and put it right on target to leading receiver Jaden Laprise.
Laprise just dropped the pass and the Lancers had to punt the ball back to the Eagles.
In the next possession for Wethersfield, they were driving and on the Bristol Eastern side of the field and on 3rd and 7 Eagles quarterback Craig Elliott threw a pass that was broken up by Laprise, leading to a 4th and 7 punt that Laprise blocked, giving the Lancers the ball back.
With the ball back and on the second play of the possession, Marshall again looked to Laprise and this time Laprise delivered with a 58-yard touchdown catch. The extra point try by John McPhee was missed and the Lancers held a 6-0 lead late in the first quarter with 3:38 remaining.
After the score, Bristol Eastern went for an onside kick and that turned out to hurt them as the Eagles recovered and drove down the short field with a six-yard touchdown catch from Elliott to Ryan Skelly. Michael Messina kicked the extra point and the Lancers trailed 7-6 with 10:09 remaining in the second quarter.
It didn’t take Bristol Eastern long to regain the lead as Marshall and Laprise connected once again on a long touchdown pass, this one a 65-yard strike with Marshall getting a block from Tyler Mason as he rolled out to the right with 9:11 remaining in the first half.
“We were able to take advantage of some of the things they were giving us,” Bristol Eastern head coach Anthony Julius said. “They were putting 10 guys in the box to stop the run and we were able to connect on some big plays.”
The final two possessions of the first half for Bristol Eastern were big as Eagles punter Connor Pace had a pair of bad punts setting up the Lancers at the 40 yard line and the 39 yard line on the last possession.
A fumbled snap by McPhee on a field goal attempt and a couple close missed run opportunities on the goal line by Marshall and Steven Hopkins led to Bristol Eastern staying at 13 points and the Lancers went into the half up 13-7.
“We made mental mistakes when we shouldn’t have in big situations,” Bristol Eastern quarterback Justin Marshall said. “Hopkins was in by three feet and the next play I was in but we jumped offsides and we have to stay disciplined.”
Marshall was 4-for-7 passing in the first half with 138 yards passing and two touchdowns. Laprise caught three of the passes for 125 yards and the two scores.
In the first possession of the second half for Wethersfield, on a 3rd and 2 Robert Balesano was stuffed in the backfield by Mason for a lost of three yards. On the next play, the Eagles went for it on 4th and 5 and Hopkins sacked Elliott as the Lancers took over from their own 42-yard line.
Strong defense was played on the next two downs, as both offenses didn’t gain a first down.
The Lancers were driving in the second possession of the half before Marshall threw an interception on 3rd and 12 from the Wethersfield 32 yard line.
The Eagles capitalized as once again Elliott hooked up with Skelly, this time on an 11-yard touchdown pass. The Messina point after try was successful and Wethersfield took a 14-13 lead.
Bristol Eastern couldn’t discover any offense throughout the rest of the game as the defense did everything it could in order to give the Lancers a chance to win the game.
“We had some big plays on third and fourth down, “Julius said. “We got some tackles for losses and the defense really sparked us.”
Time ran out though as the offense stalled in the second half, putting no points on the board and the Eagles handed Bristol Eastern its first home loss of the season.
“We just broke down at the end,” Marshall said. “We didn’t make the plays we needed to make. We dominated the game but just couldn’t come out on top.”
Dan Orencole can be reachedat 860-973-1811 or firstname.lastname@example.org
On Twitter: @OrencoleDan