PLAINVILLE — The explosiveness of the Platt offense was unquestionable through the season’s first two wins, but questions abounded about the defense.
While Tyzhan Leatherwood and company were racking up points and yardage, Waterford and East Catholic were able to put up some points.
Not this week.
Leatherwood continued his ground assault with three touchdowns and nearly 200 yards, but the defense stifled Plainville and Platt left town with a 33-0 win Friday night in the CCC Division III East opener at Alumni Field.
Linebacker Jason Nelson issued an early statement that the Panthers (3-0) had come to play. He stuck running back Jon Lindgren for a two-yard loss, but was penalized 15 yards for unsportsmanlike conduct. His response was to strip quarterback Jeff Ziegenhagen and recover the fumble to set up the offense up at the Plainville 24.
“We definitely looked to make a statement,” said Nelson, a captain whose father coaches the defense. “Last week wasn’t great for our defense. Our offense has been holding us up. We definitely had to improve. The coaches are doing a great job coaching us and we buy into the system.”
Plainville (1-1) paid the freight, managing just 48 yards on the ground, most of which came in the fourth quarter when the outcome was no longer in doubt.
The Panthers were staggered by a holding penalty that negated a Leatherwood score, but the mercurial junior flashed through the line again to give Platt the lead with just over two minutes gone in the quarter.
“We played better, but I don’t like the penalties,” Platt coach Jason Bruenn said. “There wasn’t a lot of sloppiness. A couple of run plays here and there could have been better. I thought some of the balls could have been caught, but on the whole I thought it was a better-played game for us.”
With Ziegenhagen making good decisions in the read option, the Blue Devils drove from their own 24 inside the Platt 5, but it just served to eat minutes. The Panthers’ defense stiffened, with Kemar Campbell and Handy Ellison making stops.
No sooner had the ball turned back to Platt on downs, Leatherwood raced 88 yards. Joe Mwamba added the conversion for a 13-point lead.
Plainville went three and out. Ellison again played a central role, combining with Dewayne Demace on one stop and sticking runner R.J. Gross for a two-yard loss.
A 25-yard pass play on third-and-6 from Andrew McBride to Creme Watford kept the next drive alive for Leatherwood to blow in from the 11 four plays later.
The Panthers held a 19-0 halftime lead.
‘He’s getting it done,” Bruenn said of Leatherwood. “He has his moments. Early on he was kind of running soft and we put somebody else in. We put him back in and all of a sudden the old Ty was back. Sometimes he needs a wake-up call.”
Bruenn unleashed his aerial brigade in the third quarter. The McBride-Watford combo struck for touchdowns of 24 and nine yards.
The defense held the Blue Devils to minus-1 yard in the third quarter and without a first down.
“This was definitely a better defensive effort,” Bruenn said. “We did what we wanted to do defensively.”
The pursuit to the ball was fast and sure.
“Part of it is our defensive co-ordinator Bert Nelson,” Bruenn said. “We talked about what we could make better and definitely running to the ball is something we can control as a defensive staff.”
Platt 33, Plainville 0
At Alumni Field, Plainville
Plt--Tyzhan Leatherwood 14 run (kick failed) 9:55
Plt--Leatherwood 88 run (Joe Mwamba kick) 2:34
Plt--Leatherwood 11 run (kick failed) 10:32
Plt--Creme Watford 24 pass from Andrew McBride (run failed) 9:48
A--Watford 9 pass from McBride (Olajuwon McLeod pass from McBride) 5:25
RUSHING ---Platt (36-259): Leatherwood 20-196, McBride 3-7, Daniel Cajigas 10-46, Cyrick Watford 3-10. Plainville (29-48): Jon Lindgren 2-10, Alec Maisonet 4-(-1), Jeff Ziegenhagen 11-48, Kevin Bielawski 1-(-6), R.J. Gross 4-0, Nick Boutin 4-22, Alex Biron 1-0, Greg Dunlop 2-2, Team 2-(-27).
PASSING -- Platt: McBride 5-12-0, 85 yards; Plainville: Ziegenhagen 1-6-0, 20 yards.; Buzz Adams 2-4-0, 41 yards.
RECEIVING - Platt: Olajuwon McLeod 1-8, Creme Watford 4-77. Plainville: Andre DeGregorio 2-41, Jon Lindgren 1-20.