The Bristol Central football team finally figured out how to play four quarters of football Friday afternoon, and the result was a dominating 34-6 victory over a highly-regarded Windsor team.
The Rams were led by sophomore quarterback Victor Rosa, who scored four touchdowns and threw for another while piling up 276 yards in total offense, adding a pass interception on defense to round out the best performance of his young career.
The Rams jumped out to a 14-0 first quarter lead, but unlike last week when they saw a similar lead evaporate in a disastrous second quarter, they were able to keep up the pressure and completely took the Warriors out of their game plan as they rolled to a 26-0 halftime edge.
Forced to go to the air in the second half, the Warriors switched to freshman quarterback Elijah Cromartie midway through the third period and the youngster sparked them to their only score of the game late in the period.
But despite completing 12 of 15 passes down the stretch, the youngster was not able to produce any more points as the Rams rose to the occasion defensively, limiting the yards after catch and thwarting the last drive with an interception by Tre Jones.
“We played a tough, physical and smart four quarters of football today,” said Central coach Jeff Papazian. “As the week went on in practice we kind of thought that the kids were starting to get it. It’s hard to replicate in practice what a team like Windsor can do against you, but I think we really focused on what we needed to do. We came out of the gate strong and we stuck with it.”
The Rams wasted little time getting on the board after taking the opening kickoff. A 23-yard run by Shawn Rodriguez and a 17-yard scamper around the end by Galen Hickey set the stage early in the opening drive and Rosa capped it by leaping over a pile of defenders at the line of scrimmage and breaking free on a 57-yard touchdown run just 2:15 into the game.
After stopping the Warriors on downs near midfield, the Rams put together another solid march that appeared to stall after a penalty set up fourth and 13 at the Windsor 30. But Rosa found Hickey on a screen pass over the middle and the speedster found a seam to the outside for a 30-yard pass and run. Jakob Salinas, lining up in the backfield for the first time in his career, took it in for the two-point conversion and a 14-0 lead for the Rams. Rosa intercepted a pass and returned it 63 yards to set the Rams up in great field position once again early in the second period, but the team couldn’t capitalize.
The Rams later forced a punt and were pinned deep in their own territory at their own ten. Rosa got them all 90 yards on just three plays, the last a 76 yard run to make it 20-0 and put all the momentum solidly on the Central side.
The last score of the half came after a fumble recovery at midfield with a minute left in the half. Rosa hit a wide open Tre Jones with a pass. Jones was hauled down at the one, but Rosa took it in for a 26-0 halftime edge,
The Warriors had two long drives in the third period. The first ended on a fourth down turnover at the Central 33. But a Central fumble gave it back to Windsor and the freshman quarterback Cromartie came in to complete three quick passes and drive the Warriors deep into Central territory. It took three tries for Jaiden Murphy to punch it in from the three and put the Warriors on the board.
An interception by Jones early in the final period set up Central’s last score, a one yard plunge by Rosa for his fourth touchdown of the day.
Rosa finished the day with 26 carries for 195 yards and four touchdowns rushing. He completed three of four passes for 81 yards and another score. And he finished the day with a two-point conversion run.
“Victor ran just as hard on his last carry as he did on the first one,” said Papazian. “He has the breakaway speed but he’s just as tough running inside. On that conversion, he just put his shoulder down and bulled his way in. He had two big pass completions, to Galen for the touchdown and the long one to Tre late in the half . We’ll take those 4, 5, 6 yards on the ground, but it’s nice to know that he can throw it if he has to.”
Cromartie had some good success for Windsor at quarterback late in the game, but the Central defense was able to withstand his barrage. He completed 12 of 15 passes, but netted just 89 yards and was intercepted once. Overall Windsor’s two quarterbacks completed 18 of 27 passes for 140 yards.
“We made them work for their yards,” said Papazian. “The numbers may not look so good on paper, but we did what we needed to do. They had a bunch of completions, but we kept the ball in front of us and we made the tackles. To hold a team like Windsor to just one score is a great tribute to our defense.”
The Rams evened their record at 2-2 and will return to CCC Division II-West play against another strong opponent when Wethersfield comes to town next weekend. Time and date for that game have yet to be determined depending on the EEE virus threat.