Big 2nd half propels Bunnell to victory
Published 8:00 pm, Thursday, October 6, 2011
WESTON -- With a warm sun shining down and a friends-and-family only crowd in the bleachers, Thursday afternoon's Bunnell-Weston football game felt more like a late August scrimmage than an important early October SWC matchup.
For the first 24 minutes it seemed to be just that for the high-flying Bulldogs, who came to Weston High averaging a Connecticut-best 529 yards per game.
Bunnell couldn't get much of anything goes. The undefeated Bulldogs dropped passes, they tried half-back option throws and at one point coach Craig Bruno even went for it on fourth down from his own 27-yard line.
None of it worked and Weston, by virtue of a second quarter 5-yard touchdown run by Dan Rogers led 7-0 at the break.
Whatever was said at halftime by Bunnell (4-0) worked as it roared out of the break en route to a 28-7 victory, setting up a showdown against Pomperaug next week.
"Needless to say, halftime was a lot of work. I'm not this tired for nothing," said an out-of-breath Bruno afterward.
Bunnell, held to 80 yards in the first half, went 75 yards in under 90 seconds on the first drive of the second half, capped by Terrance N'dabian's 44-yard run up the left side to make it 7-6. It immediately got better for the Bulldogs when Matt Stringfellow recovered the ensuing kickoff, which was squibbed and took a big bounce off the turf.
The Bulldogs' momentum appeared stalled, though, facing a fourth down on the Weston 21. Junior quarterback Bryan Castelot shook off a tackle in the backfield and rumbled 13 yards to pick up the first down. Two plays later he hooked up with Jared Vasquez in the left corner of the end zone from 11 yards up to make it 14-7.
"Having school like this, getting out early, maybe your head's not there completely," Castelot said of the team's early struggles. "That wasn't my play, it was a broken play, I saw a hole and knew we needed to get a first down."
Castelot finished 9-for-22 for 134 yards with two touchdowns -- the second a 41-yard connection with Vasquez (six catches, 107 yards) with 1:38 left in the third.
"This is good for us because next week it'll make us realize we have to work our tails off in practice," said Castelot, who also ran for 49 yards on seven carries.
Bunnell's defense took care of the rest, forcing three more second-half turnovers, including two interceptions of Weston (2-2) quarterback Tyler Hassett -- the second taken 49 yards for a score by Jawad Chisholm late in the fourth. Hassett finished 3-for-8 for 40 yards and ran for another 44 yards, taking a pounding in the process from Bunnell linebackers J.J. Bivona and Jason Kramer.
"Our defense was ready to go," Bruno said. "They were very upset. Even though they only gave up seven points they felt like they should be controlling the game. I think we did control the game in the second."
Rogers finished with 84 yards on 12 carries, including a 44-yard run that set up the Trojans' only score.
"I didn't feel it was a big onslaught ... we coughed it up a couple times," Weston coach Joe Lato said. "That says it all."
NOTES: Bunnell's David Camille ran 19 times for 98 yards. ¦ Vasquez also recovered a fumble. ¦ Andrew Calzone had an interception for the Bulldogs. ¦ Chisholm, who entered the game fifth in the state in receiving, was held to one catch for 14 yards. ¦ Weston finished with five turnovers.
BUNNELL 0 0 22 6--28
WESTON 0 7 0 0--7
W--Dan Rogers 5 run (JD Simons kick)
B--Terrance N'dabain 44 run (run failed)
B--Jared Vasquez 10 pass Bryan Castelot (N'dabian run)
B--Vasquez 41 pass Castelot (Jason Kramer run)
B--Jawad Chisholm 49 interception return (kick failed)
Records: Bunnell 4-0; Weston 2-2.