STODDARD BOWL: Victory secures home playoff date for Maloney, defeat keeps Platt out of the fold



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MERIDEN — Maloney scored touchdowns on four straight second-half possession to pull away from Platt, 44-21, in the 64th annual Stoddard Bowl on Thanksgiving morning at Falcon Field.

The Spartans improved to 9-1 on the season and have won three straight Stoddard Bowl contests.

They will now host New Milford on Tuesday night in the Class L quarterfinals as they begin their quest to defend their state title. Platt finished at 6-4 and fell out of Class MM contention.

“Big win for us after losing last week,” said Maloney coach Kevin Frederick, alluding to his team’s 28-21 overtime loss to Glastonbury on Nov. 11. “We dominated in all three phases. They made a couple of trick plays on us. We knew they were going to throw the kitchen sink at us. They were playing for their lives. We wanted to come in and take care of business and execute well.”

Maloney led 17-7 at the half after scoring the final 17 points of the half.

Platt took a 7-0 lead with 3:24 left in the first quarter on a razzle-dazzle play at the Maloney 30. Quarterback Avery Robinson (5 carries, 36 yards, 3 TD) took the snap and lateraled to wide receiver Vittiro Church (3 catches, 66 yards), who hit a wide open Kevin Acosta (3 catches, 72 yards) down the middle as the Panthers took a 7-0 lead.

The TD was set up by a 14-yard keeper by Robinson on third-and-9 from the Maloney 44.

The Panthers had taken possession after the defense made a big stop on a fourth-and- 2 on a combined tackle by Elier Ventura and Jayden Vega.

Down 7-0, Maloney responded with a touchdown six plays later. Five were runs by Josh Boganski (28 carries, 119 yards, 3 TD), who capped the drive with an 8-yard TD run with 25 seconds left in the first quarter to tie the game, 7-7.

The score was set up by a one-handed grab by Donte Kelly at the 8-yard line on a pass from Kyle Valentine.

Maloney took the lead in the second quarter after Platt botched the snap on a punt and the Spartans jumped on the loose ball at the Platt 17.

The Panthers limited the damage, forcing a fourth down. Maloney kicker Joshua Scaramuzzo booted a 32-yard field goal with 10:09 left in the half to put the Spartans on top, 10-7

Maloney’s defense then took its turn, making a stop on a fourth-and-1 with a combined tackle by Donald Highsmith and Zakkai Moore on Platt running back Amari Robinson.

The Spartans followed with a 13-play drive to go up 17-7, finishing with a 30-yard post play from Valentine to Amir Phillips on fourth-and-8. Boganski carried seven times on that drive for 27 yards.

Platt had a golden chance to score and take momentum into halftime. With 20 seconds left, Avery Robinson connected with Church for a 33-yard reception to the Maloney 3. Church juggled the ball and eventually brought in the pass.

However, two plays later, Kelly reeled in an interception with 3.8 seconds left and the Spartans went into the half with a 10-point lead.

“I looked at his splits and read his routes — it was either a fade or an out — and I picked it off,” Kelly said. “We focused and executed all week. We wanted to win the Stoddard Bowl, but we still have more to go. We want more.”

It was Platt’s second turnover of the first half. Jaden Vasquez also recovered a fumble for the Spartans in the first quarter.

The Platt defense forced a Maloney punt to open the second half and the Panthers punched in a touchdown on their first possession.

Platt used a 6-play drive highlighted by a flea flicker for 35 yards from Avery Robinson to Kevin Acosta to close to within 17-13 with 7:06 left in the third quarter. 

Maloney lineman Brendon Borak blocked the extra point to keep a four-point game. 

This proved to be the high-water mark of the game. The two rivals were separated by just four points and there were still 19 minutes to play.

It got no closer as Maloney responded with touchdowns on four straight possessions.

The first came off an 8-play, 54-yard march. Valentine was 4-for-4 on that drive and capped it with a 9-yard TD pass to Kelly to make the score 23-13 with 3:57 to go in the third quarter. 

“It was a good ball and I had to go get it,” Kelly said. “Credit to my QB and the line for giving it to me. Now I’m ready to eat some turkey and have a nice night.”

Maloney’s Nicholas Arroyo blocked a punt to set up the Spartans with great field position at the Platt 17. Five Boganski runs later the Spartans went up 31-13 with 39 seconds left in the third quarter.

Joziah Gonzalez (4 catches, 67 yards) got into the act forthe Spartans with a 32-yard TD reception from Valentine with 7:51 left in the fourth quarter as the Spartans expanded their advantage to 38-13.

Valentine finished the day 13-for-19 for 151 yards and three touchdowns.

“This is my first Thanksgiving start and it feels good to beat Platt,” Valentine said. “We wanted to bring the trophy home for the guys. The receivers ran great routes and they’ve been running great routes all season. We always turn it up in the second half. We get this fire to play better in the second half.”

Boganski capped a strong game with a 6-yard TD run with 5:07 left to play to finish off Maloney’s scoring.

Platt did score in the closing minutes on a 2-yard run by Avery Robinson, who also punched in the two-point conversion with 1:16 left in the game to account for the 2022 Stoddard Bowl’s final points.

“We made a few mistakes and they took advantage of them,” Platt coach Jason Bruenn said. “I thought we played against their run well. They hit three good passes on us. We had some good things going, but they played good defense. We just couldn’t get a good offensive series going in the second half.

“We had a good season,” Bruenn added. “We lost to four playoff teams and, if you want to be a playoff team, we can’t make the mistakes we made. That’s the difference in those games.”

Maloney now leads the Stoddard Bowl series, 33-30-1. The overall series, which includes Maloney’s 16-6 win over Platt in the 2018 Class L semifinals, stands at 34-30-1.

Maloney also cleaned up on the postgame awards. Kelly won the Underclassman MVP, Highsmith won the Anthony Panciera Defensive MVP and Boganski won the Bernard Sprafke MVP.

Before the game, Platt 1992 grad and former quarterback Jese Showerda and Maloney 1996 grad Jeff Valerie were recognized as the  2022 Stoddard Bowl honorees.

64TH STODDARD BOWL

M—07-10-14-14—44 (9-1)

P—07-00-06-07—13 (6-4)

First Quarter

P—Kevin Acosta 30 pass from Vito Church (Trevor Cannata kick) 3:24

M—Josh Boganski 8 run (Josh Scaramuzzo kick) 0:25

Second Quarter

M--Scaramuzzo 32 FG 10:09 

M—Amir Phillips 30 pass from Kyle Valentine (Scaramuzzo kick) 1:19 

Third Quarter

P—Avery Robinson 4 run (kick blocked) 7:06

M—Donte Kelly 9 pass from Valentine (Scaramuzzo kick) 3:57

M—Boganski 2 run (Scaramuzzo kick) 0:39

Fourth Quarter

M—Joziah Gonzalez 32 pass from Valentine (Scaramuzzo kick) 7:51

M—Boganski 6 run (Scaramuzzo kick) 5:07 

P—Avery Robinson 2 run (Robinson run) 1:16



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