St. Paul’s defense prevails

BRISTOL – When the St. Paul football program can show a little defensive punch during its Naugatuck Valley League challenges, the squad certainly brings a little more balance to the field.
But with so many two-way players, making all those defensive assignments is certainly a tall order.
However, against Torrington on Saturday, Sept. 28, the Falcons brought its defense to the showdown in a big way to topple the Red Raiders as St. Paul scooped up a big 52-37 victory from Bristol.
With the win, St. Paul won for the second consecutive week while Torrington is still winless at 0-3.
“That was a good win,” said St. Paul coach Jude Kelly. “I am proud of our boys. That was tough. It was hot. We had a lot of players go both ways. They sucked it up because Torrington never gave up.”
The game was a tit-for-tat challenge early in the fray but when Torrington trailed by only five at 28-23, and had the ball midway through the third period, the Red Raiders failed to produce a go-ahead score.
St. Paul surged ahead from that point.
From that missed opportunity, the Falcons used a 24-7 run to go up 52-30 in the showdown with 7:34 remaining in the final period.
It would be a deficit the Red Raiders wouldn’t be able to overcome.
The running game was huge for the Falcons as speedster Eli Park rushed for 132 yards off 26 carries, and ran in for two touchdowns in another big game effort. QB Logan Marchi also helped out in that respect with 11 carries for 43 big yards.
“The run game was very good,” said Kelly. “John Turner, our offensive line coach, I know has taken a great deal of pride in working with the offensive line and getting those guys better. I thought they got off the ball (and) they’re getting better every week.”
“As the offense line improves, we’ll improve as a team.”
In the passing department, Marchi was a neat 21-for-33 with 414 yards and four touchdowns while counterpart Connor Finn went 23-of-41 for 271 yards, and four touchdowns.
St. Paul’s Austin Morin had a career day and caught balls for 213 yards and had two touchdowns. Daija Fitzpatrick also made five receptions for 51 yards. Reid Morin nabbed two balls for 64 yards and a touchdown.
But the defense also showed a spark today as St. Paul had both of its games in motion and held Torrington in check when needed.
“I don’t know how we gave up 37 points because we had a lot of stops,” said Kelly about the defense. “But we gave (up) some big ones. We had a couple turnovers on offense but I thought the defense played well.”
Off a Torrington punt to open the game, Parks ran the ball in from six yards out as the home team led 6-0 only 4:20 into the contest.
Langs followed up with a 60-yard touchdown pass from Finn. Off a P.J. Killmartin kick, Torrington held a slim 7-6 edge with 6:30 left to play in the period.
Three plays later, Reid Morin nabbed a 37 pass from Marchi, followed by a Fitzpatrick reception for two points, and St. Paul surged in front 14-7 with a ton of time still left on the clock in the first.
Torrington put together one last scoring drive to end the first period as Nathan Manchester added a four-yard rush, and tied the affair up at 14-14.
During the second stanza, it was Austin Morin’s turn to shine.
Morin pulled in passes of 61 and 48 yards from Marchi, and quickly, the Falcons added up a 28-14 edge with 4:48 left to go in the first half.
With 42 seconds remaining until intermission, Torrington’s Nate Bresson took in a 13 pass from Finn. Quickly, the Falcons halftime cushion was only seven at 28-21.
“Torrington is physical,” said Kelly. “Torrington made good plays when they had to. They stayed in the game, and we had to work for everything.”
A little tomfoolery took place in the third frame as St. Paul once again forced Torrington to punt with 8:54 left in the quarter.
Off a loss by Parks on the ground, Marchi was forced to gamble in the end zone as the Falcons were stuck on its own five, and had no room to operate.
Marchi, in his own goal, threw a pass to no one as intentional grounding was called, and the play resulted in a safety, cutting the Falcons lead down to 28-23 with 8:12 remaining in the third.
But off the ensuing free kick, the Red Raiders turned the ball over, and it led to another touchdown score by the slick Marchi.
Starting from its own 14, the Falcons marched all the way down field, and Marchi ended the jaunt with a twisting two-yard run as St. Paul reaffirmed control of the contest, and led 36-23 with 4:23 left in the third.
In the fourth, St. Paul and Torrington went back, and forth but thanks to the Falcons’ running attack, precious time went off the clock and time ran out on the visitors.
First, Parks ran the ball in for a five yard TD score but 33 seconds later, Langs made an amazing 35 yard TD reception as the Red Raiders were hanging in there at 44-30 with 10:56 left to play.
On the Falcons’ next drive, Brendan Carroll took in a three yard touchdown pass from Marchi but the lanky Langs tallied up an eight yard touchdown score.
However, with 1:26 remaining, the visiting squad still trailed 52-37 as time had run out.
In the end, the Falcons nabbed a huge 15-point win over Torrington to move to 2-1 on the campaign.
“I’m proud of the kids,” said Kelly. “I’m proud of the toughness they showed because it was warm today. We went through a lot of water, and most of those guys out there – the juniors, and seniors – are going most every down. I’m pretty darn proud of the effort that they gave, and the support of the younger guys on the sidelines was outstanding as well.”
“It was a great team effort.”