FOOTBALL: Storming to an upset, winds of fortune shift on Platt

MERIDEN — Platt football coach Jason Bruenn was mulling his next move on Friday night with 45 seconds to go, facing fourth-and-5 from the Hall 27-yard line down by one point.

Platt kicker Trent D’aniello had knocked through a 25-yard field goal earlier in the game and has hit from as far as 50 yards in practice.

Bruenn and the Panthers decided to take a chance with their kicker.

“I said, ‘Boys, this is it; it all comes down to this,’” Bruenn recounted. “I don’t think either team has anything to be ashamed of.”

The kick that could have knocked off an unbeaten and ranked Class LL Hall squad was blocked. The Warriors took a knee on the next play and the game was over.

Hall, ranked No. 5 in the state polls, survived Platt, 39-38, in front of a lively crowd at Falcon Field.

“If we get that field goal off and we make it, it’s a much different feeling,” Bruenn said. “But we got blocked; that’s part of the battle. I have a kicker who can kick and I’m going to take that chance. We’re going to take that chance.”

The difference in the contest was a clutch drive by the Warriors and a gutsy two-point conversion call with 5:11 left in the game that erased a 38-31 Platt advantage.

Hall workhorse Leo Perreira (24 carries, 99 yards) had just gone out of the game with an injury and, on a fourth-and-1 play from the Platt 9, Salahdin Bakri, on his first carry of the game, rushed it in for a touchdown.

Hall kicker Cooper Griffin had been perfect on extra points and nailed a game-tying 34-yard field goal earlier in the fourth quarter, but Hall coach Frank Robinson bypassed that and went for the lead.

“They were just so good at running the ball,” Robinson said. “They do everything well, so we thought it might be better to just to try to end it now. We’ve been in that situation before where it’s worked or it hasn’t worked. We just decided to do it and it worked out well.”

Landon Traverse, Hall’s target in big spots all night, caught the go-ahead pass on the conversion from Elijah Salomons (11-for-16, 172 yards).

Hall improved to 5-0 on the season while ending Platt’s winning streak at three. The Panthers are now 3-2.

It was Platt who was in charge in the first half. The home team held a 24-14 advantage at the break.

Platt won the toss and wanted the ball and the offense set the tone. Platt’s first five plays were all for first downs.

Amari Robinson (13 carries, 148 yards) carried four times for 32 yards on the drive. However, it was his brother, QB Avery Robinson, who plunged in from one yard and the touchdown with 9:02 to go in the first quarter.

It was the first of three TD runs for Avery Robinson on the night.

Avery Robinson also hooked up with his top target, Antwone Santiago, for two catches for 38 yards on the drive.

Hall responded on its first possession of the contest with a heavy dose of Perreira. The senior carried seven of the eight plays on the 48-yard drive. He capped it with a two-yard TD with 6:02 on the clock.

Hall ran 17 offensive plays in the first half and 13 were carries by Perreira.

Platt, on its first drive of the second quarter, gained a first-and-goal on three grabs by Vittiro Church (9 catches, 60 yards). Then the Hall defense stiffened up, dropping the Panthers for losses on three straight plays.

The home team settled for the field goal, with D’aniello connecting on his 25-yarder for a 10-7 lead.

Then Platt made the defensive play of the half on a fumble recovery by Deante Torres. The ball was punched out of Salomons’ hands and Torres grabbed the loose ball out of midair and returned it 10 yards to the Hall 21.

One play later, the Robinson brothers were back at it. Avery Robinson (19-for-25, 195 yards) tossed to a wide-open Amari down the right sideline on the first play of the drive as the Panthers went up 17-7 with 9:19 to go in the half.

“It was an intense game,” Amari Robinson said. “We were being physical on both sides of the ball.”

Hall answered right back on special teams. Matthew Farber brought back the ensuing kickoff 89 yards as Hall clawed back to within 17-14.

Platt went back up by 10 points on the next drive. Avery Robinson was 5-for-5 on the 12-play drive and he converted on a third-and-27 from the Platt 47, connecting with Kevin Acosta for 43 yards down the right sideline for a first-and-goal.

Two plays later, Avery Robinson picked up a fumbled snap for a 2-yard TD run with 4:09 left in the second quarter as Platt went up 24-14.

Hall answered with a TD in the closing minute. On a fourth-and-goal from the Platt 3 with 48 seconds left, Landon Traverse (6 catches, 75 yards) caught a 3-yard TD pass from Salomons just over the goal line.

The score pushed Hall to within 24-21 at the half.

Hall took its first lead on its first possession of the second half. The seven-play drive was capped by Salomons finding Traverse, this time from 18 yards, for a 28-24 lead.

That advantage was short-lived as Avery Robinson collected his third rushing TD of the game, taking a sneak one yard up the middle.

With 2:28 to go in the third, Platt was back on top, 31-28.

Hall kicker Cooper Griffin tied the game early in the fourth quarter with a 39-yard field goal. The Hall drive stalled out after another clutch Traverse reception earlier on drive.

Platt regained the lead, 38-31, on its next possession with an Amari Robinson 16-yard run down the left sideline with 8:37 to go.

Hall answered with a Bakri 9-yard TD and the crucial Salomons-to-Traverse conversion pass.

Platt drove into Hall territory with under a minute to go before D’aniello’s 44-yard attempt was blocked.

“We came up just short,” Bruenn said. “They are a great program and they battled right to the end and we battled right to the end. It was exhausting.”

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