By MICHAEL LETENDRE
BRISTOL – The Platt High School football team is currently No. 7 in the Class L playoff standings but in its game at Bristol Eastern on Friday, Oct. 19, the squad took on a determined bunch of Lancers.
And it wasn’t smooth sailing early as Eastern was matching Platt score-for-score and trailed midway through the event.
But the Panthers defense made several critical stops, showing balance in its play action attack and ended the game on a 27-3 burst to secure a 40-17 win from Alumni Field on the campus of Bristol Eastern.
Platt moved to 5-1 in the winning effort while Eastern fell to 0-6 though the team hardly played like a winless squad – getting early scores to keep the pressure on the Panthers.
“We did a lot of good things on offense early on in the first half,” said Eastern coach Anthony Julius. “Some trick plays and things like that kind of sparked us, got us going a little bit. The offense did a nice job in the first half.”
Back Matt D’Amato had his best day in an Eastern uniform, making a career best 40 yard rush, and coming away with 92 yards on 12 carries while quarterback Justin Marshall, back from injury, made 13-of-28 connections for 85 yards.
Bryce Curtin threw a pass for a touchdown to Elijah Gagliardo (three catches, 38 yards) while Jaden Laprise made seven catches for 55 yards.
Defensively, Trinidad Gonzalez had a team-leading 10 tackles, Curtin made a tackle for a loss while Alex Valley chipped in with two huge tackles off the bench – resulting in a total of four yards lost.
“Alex did a nice job when he came subbing in for us,” said Julius of Vallee. “He made some really nice hits for us in the backfield and he’s a kid that works really hard in practice so I’m happy to see good things happening for him.”
Platt sophomore Roberto Salas (20 carries, 95 yards) did a tremendous job in the squad’s ground game, using a counter draw to churn up several yards on misdirection, scoring two rushing touchdowns on his way to just under 100 yards for the game – most of that coming over the first half of play.
“In the first half, [Platt] did a nice job with it,” said Julius of the Platt counter plays. “We really weren’t fitting it the way we wanted to. [But] we made some adjustments at halftime. For the most past, we kind of bottled him up there in the second half as far as that play goes.”
Platt QB Lorenzo Sanson did credible job finding his mates, connecting on 12-of-17 passes for 190 and two touchdowns.
Jake Baker snared six catches for 85 yards and made an immediate impact off Eastern’s opening drive of the game when the Lancers’ went three-and-out.
Gonzalez punted the ball to the Platt 24 yard-line and when Baker snared the ball, the Panthers’ first chance with the pigskin, he slithered his way 76 yards for a touchdown as Platt led 6-0 just 2:10 into the contest.
But the Lancers responded on an 11-play, 79-yard drive and when Marshall went to setup Curtin on the 20 yard line, the toss-over was just the first part of the play.
Off a little halfback option, Curtin chucked the ball into the end zone to Gagliardo and the 20 yard TD connection made it a 7-6 game in Eastern’s favor with 3:35 to play in the first quarter.
To open the second period, Salas made a cutting 14 yard carry into the end zone and with 11:26 remaining before the half, Platt retook the edge at 13-7.
But the Lancers refused to yield.
A quick six play drive saw Eastern get to the Platt 17 and when Marshall was looking to get something going, he charged towards the end zone.
He scampered in 17 yards for a touchdown and off the Jack Bachand extra point, the Lancers retook control of the game at 14-13 with 8:15 left in the second frame.
The Panthers then made two consecutive scores to go up by 13 points.
Salas notched his final TD on a 10 yard sprint into the goal and when BE turned the ball over, the ensuing drive saw Sanson make a perfect 23 yard strike with Treymane Carter streaking into the end zone with 1:52 before the half, as Platt was in charge at 27-14.
But the Lancers refused to give in as Bachand made the biggest kick of his career, sinking in his first scholastic field goal at the halftime buzzer as his 31 yard boot made it a 27-17 contest as it was anyone’s game.
Credit Platt in the second half as Eastern’s offense slowed to a crawl.
Eastern never got to operate on Platt’s side of the field in the second half.
“In the second half, we didn’t execute like we wanted to like we did in the first half,” said Julius. “We fought but we just couldn’t make enough plays there in the end.”
In the middle of the third period, Sanson made a one yard run as his keeper play made it 33-17 with 6:55 remaining in the third.
And then in the fourth with 3:33 showing on the clock, Sanson found
Frederick D’Aniello for a 19 yard score – propelling the Panthers to the eventual 40-17 win.
“Platt’s a really good football team,” said Julius. “They showed it tonight. I thought we stood toe-to-toe with them for a while. We just didn’t make enough plays there at the end.”