MIDDLETOWN — It was a promising start Friday night for the Platt Panthers against heavily favored and unbeaten Middletown.
An opening-drive interception and return to the Middletown 19 had Platt set up for a quick momentum swing on the Blue Dragons’ Senior Night.
But a fumble on the next play, recovered by Middletown, followed by two big pass plays — one for 41 yards and then a 33-yard touchdown – was the prologue to another big loss in a lost season for the Panthers, 51-20.
“Even though the score didn’t dictate what it was and we had quite a few guys out, there was a lot of things today that I liked,” head coach Jason Bruenn said. “We had two interceptions. We didn’t have any interceptions last week. We forced a punt today. We didn’t force a punt last week.”
The most notable injury for Platt was running back E.J. Dudley, who did not play.
The Panthers (4-5) will have one more chance to salvage the season on Thanksgiving morning when they might be able to spoil the playoff chances to crosstown rival Maloney (8-1).
“I’m going to give you every cliché there is,” Bruenn joked. “Throw the records out; it’s the big game.”
On a serious note: “For us this year, it’s our playoff game and it hasn’t been like that in a while,” Bruenn said. “You get a little extra time to prepare and I think our kids are going to be a little bit pumped up.”
Bruenn then put it back in perspective, saying he tells his players, “If you can put all this energy out on Thanksgiving morning, why can’t you do it the other nine games?”
Nevertheless, the energy will be at peak level on November 23 at 10 a.m. The Panthers want the Stoddard Bowl trophy to remain on their side of town.
“I don’t know if we’re going to play spoiler or whatever, we just want to win the game,” he said.
As for this Friday night, it was just more of the same for the Panthers. Middletown (9-0, 3-0) is undefeated for a reason. But a Platt offense that is explosive at times didn’t register a first down until early in the second quarter when the deficit was already 21-0.
A.J. Marinelli did connect nicely on a seam route with Tremayne Carter for a 52-yard score. A quick answer by Middletown zapped Panther momentum.
The halftime stats spell out how Middletown dominated both sides of the ball when it still mattered: 246 to 82 yards of offense.
Credit to the Panthers, they didn't give up, specifically in a nice fourth-quarter drive that featured sophomore Sean Bell Jr., who looked great, finishing with a 5-yard touchdown run.