BRISTOL - Bristol Eastern senior Alex Marshall ran away with his first football game in nearly two years.
Rushing 30 times for 244 yards (8.1 yards per carry average) and four touchdowns, Marshall led the Lancers to a 35-6 victory in their home opener against E.O. Smith. This is Eastern’s first time starting a football season 1-0 since 2013 when it beat Berlin 21-14 and that team went on to post a 9-2 record in the regular season.
“I don't think you can start much better, a three-and-out on defense and [one] run and we’re in the end zone,” head coach Anthony Julius said. “Alex is an absolute workhorse, he’s everything we thought he’d be and more, I’m so happy for him. Our offensive line was excellent tonight and quarterback play was really solid. The thing that kind of gets left out is our receivers blocked really well, which was able to spring Alex on some longer runs. I couldn’t be prouder of the kids tonight, they deserved it, they’re the ones that put the work in.”
Following a three-and-out from E.O. Smith, Bristol Eastern’s first offensive play of the year was a handoff to Marshall that went 62 yards into the end zone to give the Lancers an immediate lead.
“That’s going to be one I remember for a long time,” Marshall said. “I just saw the gap, cut for it and went for it. All I is it was the first play and we had a touchdown”
Marshall returned to the promised land shortly after his first score when Eastern’s second drive started on the Panthers’ 16-yard-line following a bobbled snap from E.O. Smith’s punter. Marshall ventured 15 yards on his first carry and then forced his way into the end zone one the next play to double the Lancers’ lead.
Eastern added two more touchdowns in the second quarter, starting with an eight-play, 69-yard drive that ended with a 23-yard run from Marshall on the right side on the first play of the period. The Lancers added some passing to the mix for their fourth score, which came after recovering a fumbled snap from E.O. Smith. Freshman quarterback Kamden Laprise capped off a two-play drive with a 42-yard touchdown pass to sophomore wide receiver Rayshon Andrews on the right sideline.
Laprise is one of two quarterbacks that will see the field this season, sharing time with Brady Brown. Both finished with rushing yards in this game, but Laprise will be looked to more as a thrower while Brown will be more of a runner that compliments Marshall.
“They’re both tremendous athletes,” Julius said. “It allows us to have a little bit of balance on the ball. We don’t have the luxury of having a ton of players, both of our quarterbacks started on defense tonight, too. We have to keep those guys fresh and rotate them in and out. To be able to have both guys out there, we’re confident that they’re both going to do the job and they both support each other really well. They’re a two-headed monster.”
Leading 28-0 at halftime, Eastern slowed its pace in the second half. The Lancers ran the ball for the entire second half outside of one pass play in the third quarter, which ended with a fumble. Neither team scored in the third quarter as Eastern’s defense remained stout against a mild E.O. Smith offense and the Lancers’ offense put forth its two worst drives of the day, ending with a punt and a fumble.
Allowing no points after three quarters and six points in the game, the Eastern defense was dialed in during this game. The Lancers forced several punts and held E.O. Smith to short drives, making it difficult to gain yards passing and running with strong performances from their front seven.
“Austin Shorette had a great game, [he made] a lot of great plays in the backfield,” Julius said. “Both of our defensive ends, Connor Gimpl and Conor McCormick, did an excellent job for us tonight. We were strong in the interior, no matter who we put out there. The secondary did a really good job. We rallied, we leveraged some tackles, we made a couple of big plays, I’m overall really happy with our performance."
Both teams scored in the fourth quarter, however, starting the Panther’s lone score of the day. Needing just 37 yards after the fumble, the Panthers moved up the field and gained most of their yards on a 26-yard pass from Sebastian Szymczak to Noah Cardone. Szymczak completed the drive on fourth and goal with a two-yard dart to Dar Jankovic.
Eastern then closed out the game by taking seven and a half minutes off the clock by feeding Marshall repeatedly. He took 11 carries on this drive and gained 57 yards, with his final run scoring a one-yard touchdown with two minutes left in the game.
“We haven’t started the season with a win in a long time,” Julius said. “To start the season this way, to be up and control the game [was good]. We definitely made some mistakes and stumbled a little bit in the third quarter, [we] didn’t start the second half the way we would’ve like to. We can clean that up and hopefully continue to improve from it, but there’s a lot of good thing to take away from [this game].”
The Lancers play their first road game of the year next Friday against RHAM, which opened its season with a 42-21 win over Farmington.
“It feels good to start the season off with a winning record. We’re going to keep this momentum going, we’re going to keep winning games now,” Marshall said.
Matt Hornick can be reached at (860) 973-1811 or email@example.com.
BRISTOL EASTERN 35, E.O. SMITH 6
At Bristol Eastern
Bristol Eastern (1-0) 21 7 0 7
E.O. Smith (0-1) 0 0 0 6
BE - Alex Marshall 62-yard run (Gavin Damboise kick)
BE - Alex Marshall 1-yard run (Gavin Damboise kick), 6:38
BE - Alex Marshall 23-yard run (Gavin Damboise kick), 11:53
BE - Rayshon Andrews 42-yard pass from Kamden Laprise (Gavin Damboise kick), 9:47
EO - Dar Jankovic 2-yard pass from Sebastian Szymczak (Anthony Boduc kick is no good), 9:37
BE - Alex Marshall 1-yard run (Gavin Damboise kick), 2:07
Passing - Bristol Eastern: Kamden Laprise 3-3-57-TD, Brady Brown 1-1-(-5)
Rushing - Bristol Eastern: Alex Marshall 30-244-4TD, Brady Brown 7-41, Kamden Laprise 2-17
Receiving - Bristol Eastern: Rayshon Andrews 3-49-TD-FUM, Brady Brown 1-3
Southington 13, Maloney 7
Newington 32, Enfield 24
Bloomfield 7, Bristol Central 6
Kennedy 14, St. Paul 0
Berlin 33, Middletown 0
Plainville 27, South Windsor 25