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FOOTBALL: Panthers were singing, passing, running and tackling in the rain

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AVON — Platt football coach Jason Bruenn and his Panthers didn’t shy away from playing in an unrelenting, pouring rain in Friday night’s CCC Tier 3 contest at Avon.

In fact, the Meriden squad relished playing in difficult conditions.

Platt got the dynamic offense it has been waiting for in addition to shutout defense in a 34-0 blanking of the Falcons at Avon High School.

In improving to 2-1 on the season, the Panthers got two touchdowns apiece from senior receivers Zack Baker and Amari Robinson as well as a rushing TD from junior running back Joel Rey.

First-year junior QB Melvin Sanchez completed 9 of 12 passes for 168 yards, including a pair of touchdowns, one each to Baker and Robinson.

“This is a great win,” Bruenn said while rain was still pounding the Avon turf. “You are playing against a different kind of offense and you have all of this rain coming down.”

The first points of the game came on Platt’s second possession. On the first play of the drive, Baker took a toss on a jet-sweep to the right, burrowed behind a wall of blockers and got free on the sideline. He shook off a potential tackle from behind and scampered into the end zone for a 76-yard TD.

Jesus Vasquez booted the PAT and the Panthers were up 7-0.

“He had a great run at jet sweep and did a nice job running it, but the blocking on the edge was beautiful,” Bruenn said. “We made a nice wall for him and they busted their hump to get that.”

Baker agreed the line opened it up.

“It was great; I’ve got to thank my line. The blockers were great. I saw a hole and the corner was blocked, and I knew it was my time to score,” Baker said.

After an Avon punt, there were three straight turnovers in the first quarter as both teams had trouble handling the ball in the wet conditions. The rain came down harder as each second ticked off the clock.

Midway though the first quarter, Nick Seminara had a strip sack for Avon that was recovered by Michael Prisco.

One play later, Platt’s Adrian Blackwell had an interception for the Panthers. 

Later in the quarter, a fumble on a Platt sack was jumped on by Prisco for his second recovery of the quarter.

The Platt defense, though, smothered Avon’s run-heavy offense all night, so the turnovers didn’t hurt.

Early in the second quarter, on a 3rd-and-4 play from the 40, Sanchez tossed a short pass to Baker and the senior broke it for a 40-yard TD.

The Panthers led 13-0 with 9:16 left in the second quarter following a missed PAT.

Platt tacked on a final first-half touchdown in the closing minutes. Taking over at their own 49-yard line with 1:18 on the clock, the Panthers used six plays to get into the end zone. Rey scored on a 1-yard run with eight seconds left for a 20-0 halftime lead.

Rey (18 carries, 52 yards) caught an 18-yard pass at the 1-yard line to set up his own score.

Both scores in the second half scores featured Robinson in the end zone.

The senior had a 19-yard rushing TD on a 4th-and-1 play with 6:06 left in the third quarter as the Panthers went up 27-0.

“This meant a lot to bounce back from last week; it was a great team win and everyone contributed,” Robinson said. “The team is doing great. I don’t see us losing any more games this year. We are trying to make it all the way and get to the playoffs and make a big run.”

Robinson also made a highlight-reel 32-yard grab on drive.

“That was beautiful,” Bruenn said of the catch. “In this weather, throwing the ball is difficult. We’ve had our difficulties throwing the ball. You can see we are coming around a little bit and we have some athletes that will make him look even better.”

Robinson (6 catches, 105 yards) capped the scoring with a 59-yard TD reception from Sanchez as Platt completed the 34-0 victory with 10:20 left in the fourth quarter. At that point, Bruenn brought in his reserves.

“I just let it go,” Sanchez said of his work. “I saw my receivers wide open and I threw it. I need to do everything I can to help the team.”

Bruenn said he was pleased with the improvement his offense showed on Friday night.

“We started to spark on offense,” Bruenn said. “We still made some mistakes and we are going to work those out, but we needed a game to get going offensively.

“Defensively, we’ve done a great job; we will continue to do that,” Bruenn continued. “There were a few things we did on special teams that I didn’t like, but we will work on that. But, offensively, we got some spark today. We got some kids the ball who needed to get the ball in their hands.”

Avon (1-2) had only one play that went more than 10 yards. It was a 66-yard run by Carter Davies in the third quarter that pushed Avon to the Platt 19.

The Panthers, however, kept pushing the Falcons back and eventually turned them over on downs.


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