PLAINVILLE - Starting the season with a pair of wins, the Bristol Eastern football teamâ€™s morale was sky high as it was the first time the Lancers started a season 2-0 since 2013.
Despite continuing to play well, Eastern finds itself on a two-game losing streak following Friday nightâ€™s 21-20 loss to Plainville. The Lancers were inches, if not less, from returning to Bristol victorious that night, but Brady Brownâ€™s pass to Austin Shorette on a two-point conversion in the final minute of play was barely out of reach.
Eastern led for much of the matchup and held a 14-7 advantage with less than six minutes left in the fourth quarter. A couple of strong defensive stands and well-orchestrated offensive drives allowed Plainville to take the lead in the last two minutes, but there were many critical moments throughout the 48 minutes that led to the final result.
â€śWe let up the deep ball a few times,â€ť Alex Marshall, senior running back and linebacker, said. â€śWhen I got the big play I fumbled, I made a mistake. We were playing decent overall, we were just letting up big plays at the end of the game. Five and a half minutes left in the game, weâ€™re up 14-7 and we let up two touchdowns.â€ť
The Lancers had a short field of 37 yards late in the second quarter and Marshall broke a long run on the first play of the drive and fumbled when he was hit, which gave the ball back to the Blue Devils. Scoring on that drive could have sent Eastern into halftime with a lead instead of a 7-7 tie before getting the ball to start the second half.
â€śAt times we missed some assignments, and that happens, other times they made a good play,â€ť Eastern head coach Anthony Julius said. â€śSometimes when youâ€™re two pretty solid football teams, like I think both of us are, that stuff happens. You meet in the hole and sometimes we made the play and sometimes we didnâ€™t. We had a couple of big plays that were called back, we turned it over once in the first half and that really kind of hurt us there.â€ť
Marshall rushed for 169 yards on 4.8 yards per carry average and scored a touchdown in the loss, but struggled to break off some of the bigger runs he had in previous games. Seeing the vast majority of the touches on the Lancersâ€™ offense (35 carries Friday), giving the ball to Marshall is never going to surprise opposing defenses. This heightens the importance of Marshall and all his blockers executing well and Plainville made the necessary play to limit Easternâ€™s offense.
â€śThey stacked the side and there was just a blob of humans,â€ť Marshall said. â€śA few times we got the breakaways and found little slots, but for the most part they were flying six people to the side we were going to.â€ť
The battle at the line of scrimmage was well fought by both sides as each offensive and defensive line got the push they wanted at various moments during the game. This game was decided by Plainvilleâ€™s ability to complete long passes at the end of the game and small mistakes made by Eastern at important moments.
â€śPlainville did a really nice job, I thought our guys matched the intensity,â€ť Julius said. â€śI thought we kind of dominated the line of scrimmage at times, but at the end of the day we came up a little bit short.â€ť
The Lancers will look to get back on track and bring their record back above .500 this Friday at home against the Capital Prep/Achievement First co-op (2-1). Eastern recognizes select mishas are responsible for its two losses so it has not lost confidence in its ability to win games, but playing a clean game will be imperative to getting back into the win column.
â€śWe all are keeping our heads up no matter what,â€ť Brady Brown, junior quarterback and defensive back, said. â€śWeâ€™ve all been playing great, we know we can win, we know we can beat the teams weâ€™re playing against. We just have to stop making the little mistakes and come together as a team and execute like we did in week one.â€ť
Matt Hornick can be reached at (860) 973-1811 or email@example.com.