MANCHESTER - Going into the half with a 20-13 lead, the Bristol Eastern football team was in position to win against Manchester on Thursday night.
All it needed was a sound second half of football and offensive production to carry over into the second half.
That did not happen as the Lancers were outscored 12-0 in the final half and fell to the Indians 25-20 in another tough loss, a common theme for this year’s group.
Bristol Eastern knew stopping Manchester star receiver Jevin Frett would be a challenge this week with his blazing speed and 6’2 size. That blazing speed was on display the first time he touched the ball as Frett started out the scoring with a 67-yard punt return touchdown at the 9:51 mark.
Following the missed extra point by Mike Vassalo, Bristol Eastern trailed 6-0.
That lead didn’t last long for the Indians as on the second possession for the Lancers, quarterback Justin Marshall found his favorite target Jaden Laprise streaking down the field and delivered a perfect throw leading Laprise for a 44-yard touchdown pass.
John McPhee’s missed extra point kept the game tied at 6-6 with 6:53 left in the first quarter.
On Manchester’s next possession, a flea flicker attempt with Wesley Allison was open as Marshall was beat deep but Allison’s throw fell short and the drive stalled.
The first quarter concluded with a score of 6-6.
For the Indians, the second quarter started out strong with a 86-yard drive to start the quarter capped off with a 23-yard touchdown screen pass to Frett from Gabriel Fountain, allowing him the ability to use his speed to beat the Lancers defense.
This time Vassalo’s kick went through the uprights and the scoreboard read 13-6 Manchester with 9:41 remaining in the first half.
Neither team could generate any momentum on the next two possessions and the Indians turned the ball over to Bristol Eastern with Elijah Gagliardo recovering a fumble that Frett lost.
The drive started from the Lancers own 36-yard line and featured Gagliardo as he had three catches for 60 yards on the drive and scored on a 28-yard touchdown connection on a strike from Marshall, once again right on the money for Gagliardo to pull in with 3:51 left in the half.
Marshall spread the ball around nicely, targeting five different receivers throughout the night and looking away from Laprise when the throw wasn’t there.
Following the score Bristol Eastern got the ball back on a fumble by Manchester during the kickoff by McPhee.
With the ball on the Indians 12-yard line, the Lancers were in a good spot to take the lead going into the half and did just that with Marshall running three consecutive keeper plays behind his offensive line, the final one being a one-yard touchdown run.
McPhee’s kick was good and Bristol Eastern held a 20-13 lead.
Manchester had a drive going on its final possession of the first half before Laprise intercepted Fountain looking for Frett.
Laprise played a stellar game in the secondary breaking up multiple passes.
The final seconds wound down and Bristol Eastern ran off the field with the 20-13 lead.
The Indians received the second half kickoff.
On the first possession of the second half, Manchester drove the football down the field on a 80-yard touchdown drive with Allison diving in on a one-yard touchdown run, setting the tone for the second half.
Vassalo missed the point after attempt again and the Lancers still led by one, 20-19.
With Bristol Eastern struggling offensively in the third quarter, Manchester was once again driving the ball but let penalties derail its drive and on a 4th and 15 Laprise intercepted Fountain giving the Lancers the ball back.
The third quarter clock read 0:00 and Bristol Eastern entered the final quarter of play struggling offensively.
A turnaround was needed.
The Lancers couldn’t discover any offense even though they held the ball on the Manchester end of the field on all three fourth quarter possessions.
Frett’s third touchdown catch of the game, a two-yard pass from Fountain with 8:28 left in the game put Manchester up 25-20.
Plenty of time was left but the Lancers once again saw the clock run out and a first half lead disappear as Bristol Eastern dropped to 2-7 on the season.
The Lancers will play their final game on Thanksgiving Day against Bristol Central at Muzzy Field.
Dan Orencole can be reached at 860-973-1811 or firstname.lastname@example.org
On Twitter: @OrencoleDan