FOOTBALL: Panthers get on the run and rout Redcoats

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MERIDEN — There was a fog over Falcon Field through the first half on Friday night, but Platt’s ground game was seeing perfectly.

The Panther linemen and backs had their way, building a big first-half lead riding a dominant ground attack in a 24-6 CCC victory over Berlin.

The first half was almost pure perfection for the Panthers. They scored on their first three possessions, controlled the ground game and, most importantly, dominated the scoreboard.

Platt ran 35 plays on the three drives. Two concluded with rushing touchdowns by Amari Robinson, who finished the game with three rushing TDs.

Robinson carried 14 times for 62 yards and the two TDs in the opening quarter and finished the game with 21 carries for 96 yards.

Zyair Coleman toted the ball nine times for 78 yards in the first half and finished 11-91 overall.

Coleman carried the ball six times on the 11-play, 6:05 scoring drive that opened the game. The senior set the tone with a 25-yard carry on the first snap.

That drive was stalled in the red zone thanks in large part to an unnecessary roughness penalty. Trent D’aniello finished the possession with a 31-yard field goal through the fog.

The Platt defense forced the Redcoats 3-and-out on their opening drive and the Panther offense went right back to work with a 14-play drive. This one finished with a touchdown — a 2-yard run by Robinson on a fourth-and-1 play with 9:13 to go in the second quarter — as Platt went up 10-0.

The Platt defense forced Berlin to another 3-and-out and Platt’s ground game churned out a 10-play drive that included six more carries by Robinson. The sophomore finished the drive with a slashing seven-yard run up the middle with a quick move to his right.

Berlin had its best drives of the half in the closing minutes of the second quarter. The Redcoats got the ball down to the Platt 4 with under a minute to go, but were done in by a pair of penalties that kept them off the scoreboard as the Panthers led 17-0 at the half.

Platt outgained Berlin 191-71 in the first half.

“That was a great win for us,” Platt coach Jason Bruenn said. “We ran the ball a lot today and it was good to run it successfully.”

The fog lifted in the second half, but Platt’s dominance did not. The Panthers forced a Berlin punt in the opening minutes and RayQuan Bradshaw blocked it.

Four plays later, the Panthers were ahead 24-0 via Robinson’s third touchdown of the game. This one was from nine yards with 8:59 to go in the third quarter.

From that point on, Berlin went from its spread offense to its double wing, with Tanner Sparks running the show for much of the third and early fourth quarters. The Redcoats were starting to move the ball towards midfield until Robinson jumped on a fumble midway through the third quarter.

The turnover resulted in a missed 28-yard field goal attempt by D’aniello that went wide right.

Berlin went back into the double wing on its next drive and finally got on the board with a 2-yard TD run by Jamie Palmese with 7:25 to play. Berlin went for two, but the pass failed and the score stood at 24-6.

Berlin converted a fourth-and-10 on that drive. Out of the spread, Toby Lavender threw to Palmese for a 19-yard connection.

Andres Salas highlighted the Platt defense with two sacks on the night as the Panthers improved to 5-4 on the season and snapped a two-game skid.

Platt junior QB Avery Robinson finished 7-for-9 for 76 yards with no picks and no TDs in the run-heavy game.

Berlin dropped its fifth straight and fell to 3-6.


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