MORRISVILLE — Taking football out of Thanksgiving Day is akin to leaving the stuffing out of the turkey. Something just feels wrong. This year, the Morrisville Bulldogs and the Bristol Warriors revived their traditional rivalry, one that dates back to 1928. The classic showdown had been suspended the last two years.
The game featured a senior-laden Bristol team that many thought would end up in a state title tilt. Unfortunately, the talented Warriors’ hopes for keystone gold were derailed by a 15-14 upset loss to Springfield in the District 1 Class AA championship game.
Bristol’s disappointing and abrupt postseason run, however, opened the chance for a renewed Turkey Day classic. Bristol, who holds a 44-35-4 advantage in the rivalry, had won the last 11 meetings.
Pre-game predictions certainly looked to favor the Warriors. A balanced team, Bristol featured a two-headed dragon in the running of tailback Donte Simmons and the passing of quarterback R.J. Collins. Meanwhile, a young but spirited Morrisville team was struggling to come up with its first win of the season.
The unknown factor was the effect the championship game loss would have on coach Plenski’s charges. Would they be down from the early exit or would they be aroused and ready to show their prowess one more time?
Early game action indicated the Warriors had come to Morrisville’s Robert Morris Field ready to explode. Holding the ‘ Dawgs to minus yards on their first possession, Bristol drove to the home team’s 14 yard line before coughing the ball up on a fumble.
After another three-and-out defensive stand, Bristol gained control on the Morrisville 35. This time, Warriors quarterback RJ Collins would not be denied. He rolled to his right and lofted a perfect aerial to Aidan Coughlin, who raced in with the game’s first tally. Minutes later, Collins would hit Phil Krause with a quick out pass. The 5-11, 160-pound senior exploded by two Morrisville defenders to notch the second score of the game.
Despite the chilled and sloppy field conditions, Collins would complete 9-of-12 passes, good for 208 yards and four touchdowns.
The Warriors continued to show their total domination in the second quarter. Simmons raced 41 yards for Bristol’s third score. Samir Brisbon recovered a fumble in the end zone to increase the Warriors’ lead to 24-0. An onside kickoff recovery led to the visitors’ fifth tally of the half. Simmons took a handoff, raced to his right and then fired a 30-yard halfback option pass to Coughlin.
Simmons would wind up as the game’s leading rusher, carrying the ball seven times for 90 yards and a touchdown. By halftime, Bristol held a 32-0 lead. They had granted Morrisville only 71 yards of offense while gaining 246 total yards.
The third quarter saw little change in the game’s flow. Bristol scored early and often. On two consecutive possessions, senior Kyle Slivka-Fralin took quick screens and outraced the Morrisville defense to record 30- and 38-yard tallies. Jake Faight closed out the Warriors’ scoring on a 2-yard run.
Morrisville did show they listened to their head coach’s halftime words about playing for pride. Several long runs by quarterback Antonio Valentin and Justin Young-Hayward set up Josh Smith’s 12-yard TD run in the closing moments of the game. The Bulldogs would end up with 147 yards of rushing offense.
Though Bristol dominated the 53-6 affair, everyone attending the game was glad to see football back in Morrisville on Thanksgiving Day.
Please Enter Your Facebook App ID. Required for FB Comments. Click here for FB Comments Settings page