By MICHAEL LETENDRE
BRISTOL – The 2013 edition of the Bristol Central football has some offensive weapons at its disposal but none may be as potent as senior running back Tyler Burrow.
Just ask Edwin O. Smith because on Friday, Sept. 20, the Rams and Panthers tangled in a CCC Interdivisional showdown that featured the entire package Burrow should be providing Central this season.
Whether it’s a game-changing rush, a quick 25 yard reception, or an extra-point attempt, Burrow put it all together in Central’s 35-7 victory from Muzzy Field in Bristol.
But it wasn’t all about the offense as defense also ruled the evening.
However, the game was only a 14-7 affair at the half and E.O. was right in the thick of things.
“We started off a little bit slower than I would have liked to,” said Bristol Central coach Sal Cintorino. “They (Smith) made some good adjustments to get ready for the game, obviously, from our scrimmage game so we started off a bit slow. I thought right away Burrow was running hard but they made some adjustments to try to take him out of the game.”
“They kind of put two guys on him.”
But a little tomfoolery to open the second half, plus a hearty defensive effort, led to 21 quick points by the Rams and the Panthers had no chance for any sort of comeback.
To open the second half, the Rams unleashed a squib kick, which was recovered by Central’s Harry Patten, leading to three quick scores and ended any chance the Panthers had in getting back into the engagement.
“We went into halftime, made a couple adjustments, obviously to run away from Burrow because they were lining up to him” said Cintorino. “We came out right away, got the turnover on the on-side kick, and we started putting the ball in motion.”
Off the turnover, the game became a 28-point affair and the home team was rolling.
Offensively, Burrow simply mowed down the competition to rack up a new career high in rushing yards.
Burrow made 26 tough rushes for a career best 234 yards and added 69 receiving yards for a total of 303 yards in offense.
However, Burrow wasn’t the only one who racked up yards offensively for the home standing Rams.
Keon Walton made five carries for 64 yards and a touchdown while also pulling in a reception for 21 yards.
QB Jarrett Michaels did well in his debut at the position, posting 6-of-14 passes for 129 yards.
Reserve quarterback Ashon Anderson scampered for 44 yards off seven tries while running back Nate Hamm added 46 yards off seven carries.
Drew Lee took in two passes for 29 yards to lead the Rams’ offensive attack.
Credit also belongs to the offensive line as it made several seams for runners to sneak into and blocked very well throughout the fray.
“I thought the offense as a whole did very well tonight,” said Cintorino. “But more importantly than that, I thought they (Smith) had a nice offensive scheme.”
“Defensively, we didn’t give up any points and thought the inside backers, the defensive line as a whole, all those guys did a really nice job.”
Lee, Christian and Caleb Hildebrand, Adam Flores, Bob Jacques, Austin Rollins, Anderson and Hamm all made big stops as the Panthers offense was grounded to a halt over the second half of action.
Overall, E.O. Smith gained fewer than 60 total yards in the showdown.
After a scoreless first frame of play, it was all Burrow as he ramped up his squad for two big scores.
On the first play of the second period, Burrow smashed his way straight up the middle for nine yards – punctuated with a flip into the end zone – as Central went ahead 6-0 just seven seconds into the fray.
Off an E.O. Smith punt, the Rams went right back to work and it was more of the same by the senior back.
Burrow had jaunts of 18 and 19 yards during the drive – jammed in with a 10-yard reception by Jason Severino – before Central went in for another touchdown.
This time, Burrow bulled his way straight down the collective throats of the Panthers as his five yard touchdown gave Central a two-score advantage.
Burrow followed in up with a two-point conversion and quickly, the Rams edge reached 14-0 with 2:12 remaining in the first half.
But E.O. Smith would not be denied and off the ensuing drive, the Panthers struck pay dirt off a huge 89-yard kickoff return by Andre Wade as he simply eluded tacklers, found the edge of the right-side sideline and was never brought down.
Central, still in front 14-7, went in for a score as time expired but Michaels’ pass was intercepted by Tony Bell to end a busy first half of action.
Down by only seven and set to receive the ball, the Panthers looked to be in good shape to open the third quarter but the Central had another agenda in mind.
Off the squib kick and recovery of the ball, Walton took a handoff and zipped into the end zone off a 37-yard sprint as Central scooped up a 21-6 lead.
On Central’s next offensive series, Burrow sliced in for a four yard touchdown and with 5:40 remaining in the third, Central’s edge grew to 28-7.
And then off his final drive of the game, Burrow charged into the end zone off a huge 30-yard push as he simply smashed past everyone to put his squad up by a 35-7 tally with 1:05 left in the third stanza.
Both teams did not scored again as Smith couldn’t get anything going and Central started the season with a bang, defeating the Panthers by 28 points in a rousing victory.
“We certainly have a lot of work to do,” said Cintorino. “But I think the defense did what it needed to do early on to make sure we stayed in the game and then the offense started coming together and things started clicking for us.”