BRISTOL - If letting the lead slip away against Wethersfield in the second half last week was anything to indicate it’s that the Bristol Eastern football team needed to come out strong in the second half against Manchester holding a 20-13 lead.
“It’s on me to get us going in the second half,” Bristol Eastern head coach Anthony Julius said. “We just haven’t been a great second half team all year and it’s not because of a lack of effort or anything it’s just that we haven’t been able to replicate the success that we’ve had in the first half.”
After the Indians drove the ball 80-yards down the field for a score, the Lancers lead was 20-19.
“After the half they came out really strong,” Bristol Eastern lineman Andrew Consalvo said. “We were unable to stop them on that first drive and it gave them the momentum that they needed and although we came close at the end we just couldn’t finish it and that was our downfall.”
Though, not much of anything came out of the Bristol Eastern third quarter possessions and Manchester took a 25-20 lead early in the fourth quarter.
With the lead change, the script was set for the Lancers to once again blow a lead in the final half of play.
The opportunity to win the game was there as the Lancers were setup with good field position in each of the three fourth quarter drives.
A touchdown was all that was needed to make the difference.
The first possession came at the Manchester 36-yard line following Bristol Eastern’s Tyler Mason kick return.
The drive started out strong as Ariza Kolloverja had a pair of runs that set the Lancers up with a first down from the Indians 25 yard line.
Following a pair of Kolloverja runs that netted negative yardage, the Lancers faced a 3rd and 12 from the Indians 27 yard line.
Bristol Eastern quarterback Justin Marshall faced a strong pass rush and overthrew Jaden Laprise setting up a fourth down that Julius kept the offense on the field for.
With the 12 yards already a daunting task the Lancers jumped early resulting in a five-yard loss for a false start penalty setting them up with a 4th and 17.
Bristol Eastern still went for it and turned the ball back to the Indians on an incomplete pass by Marshall.
With 2:16 left to play the Lancers got the ball back with plenty of time to drive down the field methodically.
It started off right with Marshall completing a 17-yard pass to Jaden Laprise and the Lancers were on the 38-yard line of Manchester with time in their favor.
All they had to do was maintain control of the football and manage the clock.
That was not the case.
On the next play Marshall decided to take a deep shot looking for Kolloverja down near the goal line but it was nowhere near him and right into the hands of the Indians William West turning the ball back to Manchester on its own goal line.
“We didn’t finish the game and that’s been the problem,” Marshall said. “The last few weeks we didn’t finish the game the way we should.”
The Indians had to punt the ball away following a strong stand by the Lancers defensive unit and Bristol Eastern got the ball back on its own 48-yard line.
Again the drive started out strong.
Marshall delivered a pair of passes to Elijah Gagliardo to get the ball down to the Manchester 36-yard line.
But following a pair of incomplete passes, it was now or never as the clock become more of a factor after every play.
Marshall looked back to Gagliardo on 3rd and 10 and the duo connected again but just short of a first down.
With a 4th and 1 and just over 30 seconds showing on the clock Marshall couldn’t find a receiver as time ran out and the Lancers failed to get the lead back continuing the trend for this year’s group.
Four consistent quarters of football has been the issue and with the Thanksgiving Day game being the only remaining there’s no better time to end that trend than against cross town rival Bristol Central.
“We have to come out with more energy in the second half,” Bristol Eastern tight end Rajon Collins said. “We have to start the second half like it’s the first half every game.”
Dan Orencole can be reached at 860-973-1811 or firstname.lastname@example.org
On Twitter: @OrencoleDan