MERIDEN — The Platt football team improved to 2-2 on the year with a gritty 16-0 victory over E.O. Smith in a CCC Division II crossover on Friday afternoon at Falcon Field.
It was a low-scoring affair, as both teams traded punts for most of the first half, with neither team generating over a hundred yards of total offense over the first 24 minutes.
But while the Platt defense held for the full 48, the Platt offense found ways to put points on the board. Roberto Salas ran for a score, Blaise Lanoue thew an aerial strike to Josh Hernandez and Trent D’aniello booted a field goal.
The takeaway? It’s a win, but nothing to be satisfied about.
“It was a pretty sloppy game,” Platt head coach Jason Bruenn said. “That’s about the best thing that I could call it.”
Platt’s defense got the home team started, forcing and recovering a fumble at the E.O. Smith 45-yard line. It took Platt just five plays to score from there, as a Lanoue pass to Seth Morris set up a 1-yard TD run by Salas.
Salas finished the day with 29 carries for 139 yards to lead the way for the Panthers, who leaned on their running game with Lanoue making his first start of the season at quarterback.
“He made some bone-headed plays where he just didn’t throw to the right guy,” Bruenn said of Lanoue. “But I don’t think his cast of receivers helped him out much either. We dropped at least two touchdowns, if not more. You can’t do that.”
It turned out the Salas touchdown would be all Platt needed in this one. The defense was dominant from start to finish, holding E.O. Smith to under 175 yards of total offense in the game.
After trading punts later in the first quarter, Platt’s special teams came up with a play to put the Panthers into scoring position.
Jasiah Cooper fielded an E.O. Smith punt inside his own 30-yard line, broke out to the right side and darted down to the E.O. Smith 33.
The 40-yard return set the Panthers up nicely, though a couple of false start penalties set them back to a first-and-20.
Lanoue found Morris on a rollout to his right for an 11-yard gain, but Platt ultimately bogged down in the red zone. D’aniello came on and drilled a 27-yard field goal to extend the Platt lead to 9-0.
Platt forced E.O. Smith to punt on every possession after the opening-drive fumble, holding the visitors to under 80 yards of total offense in the half.
Despite starting most of its drives near midfield or on the E.O. Smith side of the field, Platt was only able to muster nine first half points and 72 yards of total offense.
“You can’t get called on as many penalties as we got called on and think you’re going to look good winning any game,” Bruenn said. “It’s a win and we’ll take a win, but we’ve got to clean u up a lot of stuff here.”
Platt drove the ball into E.O. Smith territory on its inaugural drive of the second half, but was unable to convert a fourth-and-5, turning it over on downs.
E.O. Smith converted a third-and-13 on a catch by Bruce Hussey, but a Greg Burell sack of Derek Stebbins forced yet another punt.
Platt’s passing game found some rhythm on the ensuing drive, as Lanoue found his favorite target, Morris, for a 14-yard gain into E.O. Smith territory.
Lanoue followed that up with a 24-yard strike to Josh Rodriguez on a second-andlong, putting Platt in the red zone as the third quarter came to a close.
However, the Panthers were unable to score again. A fumbled snap on third down forced a fourth-and-long and Lanoue underthrew Rodriguez in the end zone.
It didn’t matter. Platt’s defense came up big again, this time stuffing a quarterback sneak by Dylan Corsini to force another E.O. Smith punt with just under nine minutes to play.
This time, Lanoue put the game on ice. With 3:13 to play, the junior QB dropped a dime down the right side to Rodriguez for a 34-yard score, giving Platt a 16-0 advantage.
Platt, which is 2-0 at Falcon Field and 0-2 away from it, will go back on the road next week to take on Newington, which is 3-1 after a 42-7 victory over RHAM on Friday.
“If we play like [we did today] we’re not going to win,” Bruenn said. “I know that. They’re a good team. They’ve got some skill players, a good offensive line, their defense is playing energetic.
“We’ve got a lot of work to do this week if we even want to compete with them.”