BRIDGEPORT - The 22 points the seventh-seeded Plainville football team scored against second-seed Bullard Havens Tech were more than enough to advance to the Class S semifinals Monday night to take on third-seed Bloomfield.
Just below the Blue Devils’ season average of 23.6 points per game, quarterback Christian Collin’s three rushing touchdowns sufficed on a night when the defense held an opponent to less than 14 points for the fifth time this season.
Outside of their scoring drives, however, the Blue Devils’ offense saw little success moving the ball and relied heavily on Collin to create behind an offensive line that struggled to open holes for him or the other offensive players.
Collin was responsible for 169 of Plainville’s 254 yards of total offense with 150 of them coming on the ground. Beau Lasher posted 86 yards on the ground as well and served as the only counterpoint to Collin for the Blue Devils’ offensive attack. Collin also accounted for the majority of Plainville’s points, scoring on runs of 25, 43 and six yards.
“He’s tough,” head coach Tim Shea said of Collin after the 22-16 victory. “Who would’ve thought he was a quarterback? He still doesn’t think he is one, but he is. We didn’t need to throw the ball a whole lot [Wednesday], but tell them every week we want to win the most efficient way possible. That was running the ball like we did [against the Tigers] and I’ll take a. A win is a win.”
But Plainville’s emphasis on Collin as the playmaker also makes them much easier to defend as it learned early in the win over Bullard Havens Tech.
The Blue Devils didn’t score their first points of the game until there were 3 minutes, 55 seconds left in the second quarter after Collin was able to break free for the 25-yard touchdown run. Plainville only called run plays on the drive with Collin doing the majority of the work: his scoring play and a 21-yard run four plays before.
Collin’s 25-yarder was the lone highlight for the Blue Devils’ offense over the first 24 minutes of play. The other four drives ended in a fumble, turnover on downs, punt and punt. Their next score didn’t come until the 2:22 mark of the third quarter when Collin broke free for a 43-yard touchdown.
Their first drive in the third ended with a turnover on downs after Dominick Chambrello dropped an open pass on 3rd-and-7 and Collin was forced to scramble and ultimately throw an incomplete pass on fourth down. That drive was followed by a pair of disastrous plays in which Lasher lost five yards on first down and Collin threw an interception on a play-action pass immediately after.
Collin’s final touchdown came on 3:05 left in the game with two punts preceding it, including a 3-and-out. Overall, Plavinville managed 135 yards in the second half.
“They did some good things on defense,” Shea said. “They spied Christian a little bit so a lot of our ride-and-decide stuff was challenging [Wednesday] but we made some adjustments. We had blockers on some of their kids and as it showed later in the game and we started to pull away a little bit. It was a very good game, it was playoff football, I’m glad we’re on top.”
But going forward into the semifinals, the Blue Devils know they can ill afford to be as inconsistent offensively, especially when that matchup includes a trip to Bloomfield. The Warhawks beat Plainville 47-0 when the two teams met Oct. 4 and haven’t scored fewer than 40 points in any game this season. Bloomfield’s season high is 74. If the Blue Devils’ offense is unable to develop a rhythm as it failed to against Bullard Havens Tech the result of this upcoming game could be similar.
“We’re just going to have to work hard in practice,” Chambrello said. “It’s going to be tough but the harder you work it’s going to pay off. It’s going to be a tough opponent, but I feel like if we work hard we have a good chance.”
Matt Hornick can be reached at (860) 973-1811 or firstname.lastname@example.org