BRISTOL - Coming into the Thanksgiving game against rival Bristol Central, the Bristol Eastern football defense knew the game plan for the Rams was simple, let Dathan Hickey use his athleticism in open space and see if the Lancers could stop it.
After the first drive of the game, the Rams got a good idea about that as they drove 81 yards down the field and capped off the possession with a one-yard touchdown run by Hickey.
“Dathan is an outstanding player,” Bristol Eastern defensive end Rajon Collins said. “He showed his speed. We broke contain and he took advantage of our broken containment. You can’t underestimate a player like that. When he gets open space like that he’s going to do what he has to do to score.”
It was a tale of two halves, however, as for the rest of the first half, Hickey was held in check for the most part with just 55 yards rushing. He finished the first half with 106 yards rushing.
“We really were bottling him up,” Lancers sophomore defensive back Elijah Gagliardo said. “We were doing what we were supposed to be doing. We were keeping contain and we just had to stay true to the play. When he was getting bottled up he just got out of it somehow you know. We had two broken plays that he got a touchdown and that’s what gave them the game.”
In the second half, Bristol Eastern came out slow on the defensive side of the ball and Hickey took advantage, breaking loose for three touchdown runs over 50 yards and showcasing the ability that landed him a Division-I football scholarship to Yale.
“Defensively we kind of just slowed down in the second half,” Bristol Eastern senior linebacker Tyler Mason said. “I feel like that’s what got to us.”
The Lancers defense didn’t do itself any favors, though, missing some open field tackles, including a big missed tackle by senior Ariza Kolloverja that turned a tackle for a loss in the backfield into a 75-yard touchdown run.
“A couple of his long runs were because of missed tackles,” Bristol Eastern head coach Anthony Julius said. “When you have a kid as athletic as he is those missed tackles turn into big plays and you tip your cap to [Hickey]. When you give up  yards on the ground it’s kind of hard to win a football game.”
In total, Hickey had a pair of 75-yard touchdown runs in the second half to go with a 52-yard touchdown run in a second half that he exploded for 225 rushing yards with the trifecta of rushing touchdowns.
“With a kid as good as Dathan Hickey, it makes [mistakes hurt] and those two big plays kinda hurt us there at the end and just proved to be too much to overcome,” Julius said.
Luckily for the Lancers, Hickey is a senior and they won’t have him taking the snaps for Bristol Central next season.
Dan Orencole can be reached at 860-973-1811 or firstname.lastname@example.org
On Twitter: @OrencoleDan