BLOOMFIELD, Oct. 7 – There were members of the Bloomfield High coaching staff discussing what the Warhawks would do once they took a 42-point lead and, by rule, a running clock would go into effect.
This was in the first half of Friday night’s Central Connecticut Conference game with Avon.
It was a moot point. Avon scored first, limited No. 10 Bloomfield to just six points in the first half and led at halftime by one. The Warhawks took the lead on a 61-yard punt return early in the third quarter but Avon had the ball on the Bloomfield 14-yard line with 8:05 left in the game and an opportunity to take lead.
But the undefeated Warhawks held and scored a late touchdown in the fourth quarter to survive an upset bid with a 20-7 victory in a CCC Division III contest at Phil Tobin Stadium. The defending Class S champions improved to 5-0 with their 17th consecutive win while Avon (0-5) dropped their fifth straight game.
Bloomfield head coach Ty Outlaw was asked if his team underestimated Avon. “Absolutely,” he said. “We had staff openly talking about when we would get the running clock. The kids buy into that.”
The Warhawks have a bye next week but the sense around the team was that this was a bye week, too – until Avon ran the ball down Bloomfield’s throat. The Falcon strategy was simple, eat up the clock by running the ball and keep the explosive Bloomfield offense off the field. The Warhawks had 50 points two weeks ago and 49 in a week two win over Plainville.
“We came out and certainly had control of the football game for some time. We had ball control,” Avon coach Sal Cintorino said. “This was a test of integrity. There is no sense showing up unless you believe you have a chance to win.
“Our kids certainly came in and played like a team that was favored to win,” he said. “This is something to build upon.”
Bloomfield took the lead for the first time early in the third quarter on a 61-yard punt return from Norman for a 12-7 lead with 10:26 left in the quarter. The two-point conversion pass failed.
In the third quarter, Avon’s defense didn’t allow a single yard to the Bloomfield offense, which ran just three plays.
As the fourth quarter began, the Falcons had a third down and three on the Bloomfield 18-yard line. But Avon running back Jack Jones was held to just one yard. On fourth down, Jones was tackled for a three-yard loss.
Bloomfield got the ball back and couldn’t get going. On second down, Avon freshman Chris Gens tackled Bloomfield’s Ky’Juon Butler in the backfield for a six-yard loss. Falcon teammate Justin Folkwein made another nice open field tackle to limit Norman to just six yards.
On fourth down and four from the Bloomfield 26-yard line, the Warhawks tried to run the ball instead of punting. But Avon gave up just two yards and took over at the Bloomfield 28 with 8:20 remaining in the game and trailing by five points, 12-7.
Outlaw said he was trying to keep his offense on the field to give his tired defense a few minutes to rest.
After an eight-yard gain from Jones and a six-yard gain from Asberry, Avon had the ball on the Bloomfield 14-yard line with 8:06 remaining. Burgos gained two yards on first down but Jones was dropped for a one-yard loss on second down.
Butler slapped away Burgos’ attempted pass on third down and Bloomfield’s Chris Norman batted away a potential touchdown pass in the end zone on fourth down to snuff out the Avon rally.
Three plays later, Bloomfield added an insurance touchdown on a 41-yard pass from QB Dexter Lawson to Russell Thompson-Bishop for a comfortable 20-7 lead.
Avon nearly scored a second touchdown with 1:36 remaining but Lawson wrestled the ball away from Avon receiver Peter Gerosa in the end zone to come up with the interception.
“It was a good Friday night football game,” Cintorino said. “I’m extremely proud of how we performed on both sides of the ball.”
Avon was aggressive from the start. They kicked the ball off and bounced it off a Bloomfield defender. Longo Francesco recovered for the Falcons.
Avon marched 51 yards on 11 plays with Leon Asberry scoring from the four-yard line. The Falcons had three first downs on the drive and Jack Jones converted on a key third down and 1 from the Bloomfield 15 with a four-yard run to keep the drive alive.
Asberry and Jones had some big holes from their offensive line – center Vinny Bonalumi, guards Jeremy Zarwanski and Nick Schuster, tackles Henry Schrecenghost and George Pavlakis and tight end Ryan Ollestad – and they ran with passion. Seldom did they go down from the first hit.
Jones ran for a career-high 111 yards on 29 carries while Asberry gained 93 yards on 22 carries. QB Dylan Burgos ran for 23 yards on seven carries.
Bloomfield struck back on their first drive on a 29-yard touchdown pass from Lawson to Thompson Bishop with 4:25 left in the first period. But the extra point banged off the crossbar and Avon retained their 7-6 lead.
On their second drive, Avon ate up nearly eight minutes on a 14-play drive to the Bloomfield 18. An illegal motion penalty pushed Avon back five yards and the drive stalled. Norman intercepted a Burgos pass at the goal line to end the drive.
Later in the second quarter, Bloomfield was on the move on the Avon 31-yard line. But Avon’s Tucker Gill tackled Lawson for a two-yard loss and Folkwein made a nice open field tackle to limit Bloomfield receiver Jordan Pruitt to just one yard. An incomplete pass ended the drive.
NOTES: Avon slipped to 0-5 for the first time in 14 years since the 2002 campaign when the Falcons finished with a 1-9 record. … Avon will be off for a week and returns to action on Saturday, Oct. 22, when they host Berlin at 2:30 p.m at the high school. … Avon slips to 2-5 against Bloomfield. The last Falcon win in the series came in 1968.
Bloomfield 20, Avon 7
Avon (0-5) 7 0 0 0 — 7
Bloomfield (5-0) 6 0 6 8 – 20
A: Leon Asberry 4 run (Jack Jones kick), 7:00
B: Russell Thompson-Bishop 29 pass from Dexter Lawson (kick fails), 4:25
B: Thomas Norman 61 punt return (pass fails), 10:26
B: Thompson-Bishop 41 pass from Lawson (Chris Rose Jr pass from Lawson), 5:04
RUSHING: Avon – Leon Asberry 22-93, Jack Jones 29-111, Dylan Burgos 7-23; Bloomfield – Tyreik Noel 3-23, Dexter Lawson 7-40, Anthony Simpson 1-minus 3, Ky’Juon Butler 6-38, Thomas Norman 1-6
PASSING: Avon – Dylan Burgos 5-13-2, 58; Bloomfield — Dexter Lawson 10-13-0, 132
RECEIVING: Avon – Leon Asberry 2-18, Peter Gerosa 2-31, Tommy Donovan 1-11; Bloomfield — Thomas Norman 1-15, Terelle Gordon-Robbins 2-11, Russell Thompson-Bishop 3-70, Chris Rose, Jr. 1-9, Jordan Pruitt 2-15, Butler 1-12
RETURNS: Jack Jones (A) 3-34 (kickoffs)
INTERCEPTIONS: Dexter Lawson (B) 1-0, Thomas Norman (B) 1-6; FUMBLE RECOVERY: Longo Francesco (A)