By KEN MORSE
If the Plainville football team wants to reach the postseason, every game counts. So when the Blue Devils struggle, the recipe is simple: put the ball in the hands of quarterback Christian Collin and call it a day.
After missing out on three straight scoring chances last Saturday, the Devils approached halftime with a slim, 13-0, advantage. They turned the ball over to Collin after the break, and the junior signal caller ran and passed Plainville to a 34-7 victory.
The Devils scored two touchdowns on a trio of third quarter possessions to take over the game. Collin accounted for 419 yards on 15-for-22 passing (2 TDs) for 243 yards and 16 rushes (1 TD) for 176 yards on the game. In the second half, he helped put the game out of reach, going 7-for-9 passing for 174 yards and two touchdown passes, along with seven carries for 39 yards.
It wasn’t easy. On the second play of the game Dom Chambrello recovered a fumble at the Avon 27 yard line. It took Plainville just six plays to get on the scoreboard with Collin scampering 20 yards and Beau Lasher punching it in from a yard out. Dylan Brewer knocked through the extra point for a 7-0 lead at 7:46 left in the first quarter.
The Devils defense forced the Falcons to a three and out. On the second play from scrimmage in its second drive of the game, Collin darted left, went right, backpedaled to sidestep a defender and then found a seam taking it 68 yards for a touchdown while plowing over three tacklers along the way for a 13-0 lead.
“Anytime you can come out and jump on a team like that it starts to set the tone,” said Plainville head coach Tim Shea.
With 4:40 to go still in the first quarter the Devils were ready to send the Falcons packing…not so fast. An 11-play drive got the ball down to the eight yard line when Lasher lost the handle and Sean Nolan recovered the fumble in the end zone.
On the next series, a nine-play drive stalled with a loss of downs at the Avon 27 when Dylan Hall pulled in a ball that bounced off his chest, managed to hang on, and tumbled to the turf. The back judge ruled it incomplete.
Plainville got it down to the Falcons 30-yard line on the next possession, and Collin just barreled through a host of defenders on a 20-yard run. The ball was stripped away and recovered by Avon.
Instead of the game being out of reach at that point, the teams headed to the locker room at the half with the Devils clinging to a 13-0 advantage.
“I had a strong conversation about that at halftime,” said Shea. “That has been a problem for us once we get in the red zone. We came out in the second half and made some adjustments and started to finish some drives.”
The coach was heard loud and clear. The Devils came out the locker room and mounted a nine-play drive that culminated with a 41-yard scoring strike to Javan Paradis (4 catches, 61 yards) to open up a 20-0 lead.
Following a punt on their next possession, Plainville was at it again with Collin engineering a seven-play drive. A 17-yard pass to Tanner Callahan (2 carries 16 yards, 2 receptions 30 yards) was followed up with Callahan busting the plane of the end zone on an 11-yard run to up the margin at 27-0 heading to the final quarter.
Avon blocked a punt by Colby Nemerich and the Falcons got the ball at the Devils 19 yard line. The Falcons quarterback Tabor Engle (13-19 passing for 81 yards) got the five play drive going completing a couple of passes and then Nolan got the honors blasting his way into the end zone from two yards out cutting the deficit 27-7.
Just in case Avon had thoughts of marching back into the game with 5:18 to play Collin made sure that scenario wouldn’t be possible as he threw a third and six pass to the sidelines where Hall (5 catches, 107 yards) took it 77 yards to the house for the 34-7 lead with 3:38 left.
With the victory, Plainville (6-2) climbed to No. 9 in the Class S rankings with the top 8 teams making the state playoffs. Next up is Lewis Mills (5-3) followed by a Thanksgiving Day showdown with Farmington (4-4).
“We get to go home and finish up the regular season with two home games,” said Shea. “And I like home cooking. We will look at the film and get ready for Lewis Mills.”
Plainville will celebrate senior night on Friday when they host Lewis Mills and then have a week off before taking on Farmington on Thanksgiving morning at 10:30 at Tinty Stadium.