By MICHAEL LETENDRE
BRISTOL – The Wethersfield football team was, perhaps, the most offensively diverse football squad the team from Bristol Central has played to date.
And in a CCC Division II-West showdown from Muzzy Field on Bristol on Saturday, Oct. 3, the Eagles ramped up nearly 500 yards in offense on its way to a 46-20 win to remain a perfect 4-0 on the campaign.
But the Rams (2-2) hardly stood by and watched, answering Wethersfield’s first score of the game with one of their own and after one frame of play, it was a 7-7 contest and anyone’s game.
However, Eagles‘ QB Devon Smith was an elusive fellow on the night – in both the running and throwing schemes for the visitors and when he was allowed time to operate in the pocket, doom and demise followed quickly.
He made 21 passes for 339 yards while making 12 rushes for 106 yards – compiling 445 yards to pace the offensive onslaught.
Six different receivers made connections with Smith, including Eric Wright (4 receptions, 127 yards) and Kyle Klavins (5-86) and each catch quickly moved the chains for the Wethersfield outfit.
“That’s a really good highly regarded team in our division and in the state polls for obvious reasons,” said Central coach Jeff Papazian. “They have a lot of answers, they have a lot of athletes and a lot of really good football players over there.”
Both teams scored on their initial drives and this one was offensive very quickly.
Wethersfield won the coin toss and off a blazing 62 yard carry by Smith, the QB eventually found Klavins for a 19 yard connection in the left corner of end zone and just 2:11 into the fray, the Eagles led 7-0.
But the Rams cleverly responded.
Central quarterback Noah Cruz (11-of-17, 170 yards, 2 TDs) made a 34 yard jaunt to get the Rams within scoring distance.
Luis Medina (12 carries, 107 yards) then zipped up a 15 yard rush, cutting out and sharply to the right -just grazing the corner of the goal – as Adams extra point made it a 7-7 contest with 5:08 left to play in the first quarter.
A short Central punt set up Wethersfield’s next scoring drive as the squad needed just three plays to go 40 yards – capped off when Smith found Williams for a 14 yard strike – for six additional points.
And just seven seconds into the second quarter, Wethersfield once again led by seven, 14-7.
A penalty knocked out a 50 yard connection from Smith to Klavins midway through the second frame and the Rams’ defense held, forcing a punt with 5:50 left in the half.
But Central’s came up drive on its next possession and with 2:04 left in the half, the Eagles took one more shot at another score.
And that’s what Smith did as he chucked the ball left and right – having plenty of time to scurry around the pocket – and made big connections with Williams and Wright – before getting one final toss over to an open Klavins for a 14 yard touchdown and with 51 seconds left in the half, Central trailed 21-7.
Late in the tilt, Cruz found Conner Staubley for two quick passes to get to the Wethersfield 27 but Smith picked off the next pass, scampered up the field nearly forty yards to midfield and the Eagles took three more cracks at yet another scoring play.
However, Wethersfield ran out of answers as the squad bolted into halftime with a 14 point push at the break, 21-7.
Central got the ball out of the intermission, went three-and-out, but Wethersfield did not do any better as the Rams’ defense made a stop and kept the Eagles in check before Cruz made the toss of the game.
On a second-and-nine at Central’s own 29, Cruz was under pressure, fired up a shot to Tyshaun Rodriguez, who had his hands outstretched, snared the ball and with no one in front of him, he was off to the races.
In the end, it was a 79 yard pass for a touchdown and with 5:53 left in the showdown, it was a one-possession affair again at 21-14.
And by the completion of three periods, the Eagles were held scoreless in the third but still led by seven.
But that deficit increased to open the fourth when Smith – given all sorts of time to operate – found a wide open Wright for a 60 yard touchdown pass and with 11:51 remaining, Wethersfield led 28-14.
A Cruz interception by Klavins led to another Wethersfield touchdown – this time a Wright 13 yard reception as Smith escaped in a mad scramble – and with 8:23 left, the Eagles picked up a 35-14 cushion.
Central answered back as Isaiah Miller sprinted into the end zone for a seven yard TD rush and with 5:49 to play, the Rams chopped the deficit to 35-20.
But Wethersfield went right back at it, struck for its first rushing touchdown of the game when Smith when up the gut for a one yard score and at the 2:04 mark of the fourth, the Eagles were in charge 42-20.
And then, in the bizarre moment of the night, Cruz threw a pass that was blocked up in the air by Williams, but the ball came right back to the QB as he ran into the end zone for his own 10 yard touchdown strike, making it a 42-26 game with four seconds left.
As time ran out, Central dropped the contest by 16 points and went into the bye week with a little work to do before battling Bulkeley on Friday, Oct. 16.
“We’ve got a lot of work to do so we’re going to take the extra week, get back to some fundamental work and we’ve got a whole bunch of stuff to clean up before we get to Bulkeley,” said Papazian. “It will be good to kind of step back and get back to some basics that we can hopefully take care of.”
Comments? Email mletendre@BristolObserver. com.
By MICHAEL LETENDRE