MERIDEN — Platt ended a two-game skid with a decisive 39-13 CCC Division II West win over Bristol Eastern behind a monster game from junior running back Roberto Salas.
Salas carried the ball 33 times for 275 yards and three touchdowns on Friday night at Falcon Field.
”This was a great bounce-back win,” Platt coach Jason Bruenn said. “We needed to get back in the win column. We did it the way we need to do it: We ran the ball.”
Platt (4-4, 2-2 D-II West) took a 7-0 lead with a 55-yard TD run by Salas on the first play of the second drive. He scampered into the end zone untouched with 7:32 showing on the clock.
Trent D'aniello booted through the extra point as the Panthers jumped out on top.
The Platt defense forced four first-quarter punts and limited the Lancers to three first downs in the opening 12 minutes. Senior Greg Burrell had a sack to highlight Platt’s first quarter.
Platt extended the lead in its first drive of the second quarter. A 32-yard pass and catch from Trent D'aniello to Joshua Rodriguez down the right sideline set up a D'aniello 23-yard field goal that split the uprights. The boot gave the Panthers a 10-0 advantage with 8:04 left in the first half.
The Platt offense was right back on the field after an Eastern fumble by running back Alexander Marshall.
Sean Bell jumped on the fumble for Platt and the Panthers took advantage of the turnover. Six plays later, the Panthers were in the end zone, though an offensive pass interference had the Panthers facing third-and-long from the 27-yard line.
It wasn’t a problem for the Panthers. D’aniello connected with Rodriguez down the right sideline for a 27-yard touchdown with 4:53 left in the first half. The score put the Panthers up 17-0.
“It started with the line,” said Rodriguez, who had career highs for receptions and yards with seven catches for 148 yards. “They blocked for me. They made sure our new quarterback had time to get me the ball. After the loss to Windsor, we needed this.”
After Platt forced a turnover on downs late in the first half, D’aniello orchestrated a 10-play drive. D’aniello attempted a 36-yard field goal with 21.9 seconds left that was blocked.
The Panthers went into the half up 17-0 having out-gained Eastern 227-56.
The Panthers opened the second half with a heavy dose of Salas. The junior rushed seven times for 42 yards. Those rushes set up a big pass play as D’aniello (10-for-21,185 yards) tossed his second touchdown pass of the game. This one went to senior Chayse D’Angelo for 25 yards with 7:19 left in the third quarter.
Antwone Santiago was successful on the two-point conversion attempt to put the Panthers up 25-0.
Santiago added an interception on defense later in the third quarter.
Salas started the fourth quarter with a 19-yard TD run with 10:47 left in the game. He ran untouched up the middle behind a block from Jaylen John. D’aniello’s PAT made it 32-0.
Marshall got the Lancers (2-6, 0-4 CCC West) on the board with a 17-yard run with 10:02 left. The TD was set up by a long kickoff return by Treyvon Daniel.
Salas responded with a 5-yard TD run. He set up his third score of the night with a 58-yard rush earlier on the drive.
“I can’t thank the line enough,” Salas said. “They were there for me all four quarters. Even when I didn’t get many yards, the next time they would help me.”
Marshall capped the scoring with a 3-yard TD run with 2:10 on the clock.