BERLIN – The Berlin football team has grown accustomed to a running clock late in games due to lopsided scores, but those have often been in the Redcoats’ favor.
That wasn’t the case on Friday night against No. 6 Bloomfield.
The Warhawks gashed Berlin’s defense behind Anthony Simpson, who ran for 97 yards and two touchdowns while adding 134 receiving yards and another score in a 41-6 rout, putting the Redcoats in a must-win situation next week at New Britain, where a spot in the Class L state tournament will likely be on the line.
Berlin had chances to avoid the blowout, but a pair of fumbles in the red zone resulted in two touchdowns for the Warhawks.
We didn’t make plays when we had to,” head coach Joe Aresimowicz said. “We shot ourselves in the foot. You can’t do that against good teams.”
Bloomfield showed its explosive potential on its first drive of the game, marching 57 yards to take an early 6-0 lead. The drive almost stalled after the Redcoats forced a 4th-and-13, but Daron Bryden dropped a 24-yard touchdown pass into Simpson’s lap in the back of the end zone to put the Warhawks out in front.
Berlin tried to respond on the ensuing drive with plenty of help from Bloomfield, which committed back-to-back personal fouls to move the Redcoats inside Warhawks’ 35, but Justin Skates was sacked on fourth down to give possession back to Bloomfield.
Mistakes burned both teams on the next two drives, as Bryden found Jayvon Massey right at the goal line for a 15-yard completion, but Massey fumbled just before breaking the plane, and Kyle Krupa recovered for the Redcoats. Pinned against its own end zone, Berlin turned to Johnny McGeever, who broke off a 77-yard run up the middle to put the Redcoats in the red zone, but McGeever fumbled on the next play to end the drive.
Bloomfield made McGeever and the Redcoats pay behind Bryden once again, who hit Michael Raiford for a 53-yard touchdown to give the Warhawks a 13-0 lead. Berlin tried to answer later in the quarter thanks two catches from Jamie Palmese, one of them for 20 yards on a full extension dive, but a fumble on a handoff exchange at Bloomfield’s 5-yard line once again ended a promising drive without any points.
“We have to help our defense out and put points on the board,” Aresimowicz said. “I don’t know if it would have made a big difference, but our responsibility is to put points on the board, and we didn’t do it. Mistakes kill.”
With just two minutes left on the halftime clock, Bryden completed passes of 24, 10 and 46 yards to put the Warhawks at the 1-yard line with 27 seconds left, where Simpson punched it in to give Bloomfield a commanding 20-0 at the half. The second half started as disastrous as the first ended for Berlin, as Simpson gash the defense for a 67-yard touchdown run on the first play from scrimmage to make it 27-0.
Simpson’s run to start the half looked dead near the line of scrimmage, but he muscled his way through a pack of red jerseys and exploded into open space to continue the rout.
“We should have tackled him,” senior outside linebacker Danny Lynch said. “We had him wrapped up.”
The Redcoats got their lone score from Palmese, who caught a pass from Skates in stride on a slant and took it 44 yards to the house, but the Warhawks answered right back on the next drive with a 53-yard touchdown pass from Bryden to Massey, his second touchdown catch of the night.
A rushing touchdown by Brandon Bish in the fourth quarter queued the running clock and handed Berlin its first home loss of the year on its last game of the regular season at Sage Park.
“It was tough for us,” Aresimowicz said. “But we have to get back at it tomorrow morning and get ready for New Britain.”
No. 6 Bloomfield 41, Berlin 6
At Sage Park, Berlin
Bloomfield (9-0) 6 14 14 7 – 41
Berlin (7-2) 0 0 6 0 – 6
Bloomfield: Daron Bryden 24 pass to Anthony Simpson (Sean Dixon-Bodie kick no good) 6:13
Bloomfield: Bryden 53 pass to Michael Raiford (Dixon-Bodie kick) 10:57
Blomfield: Simpson 1 run (Dixon-Brodie kick) 0:27
Bloomfield: Simpson 67 run (Dixon-Brodie kick) 11:39
Berlin: Justin Skates 44 pass to Jamie Palmese (Josh Grimm kick no good) 5:42
Bloomfield: Bryden 53 pass to Jayvon Massey (Dixon-Brodie kick) 4:09
Bloomfield: Brandon Bish 11 run (Dixon-Brodie kick) 11:06
Rushing – Berlin: Johnny McGeever 16-122, Elijah Crowley 5-25. Bloomfield: Simpson 10-97-2TD, Bish 6-42-TD.
Passing – Berlin: Skates 8-15-141-TD. Bloomfield: Bryden 17-22-362-3TD.
Receiving – Berlin: Palmese 3-88-TD, Joe Caracoglia 2-37. Bloomfield: Simpson 10-134-TD, Massey 4-157-2TD.