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Bristol Eastern 34, Bristol Central 28
Even though the records would indicate a blowout, that wasn't the case in the latest installment of the Battle for the Bell game at Muzzy Field this morning as the Lancers pulled out a six-point victory over the underdog Rams. Bristol Eastern is 8-3 on the season, while Bristol Central falls to 2-9.
The win gave the Lancers the first back-to-back CCC South championships in school history.
“People just thought we couldn’t make it and look what we have,” Eastern running back Mike Zeigler told Mike Letendre after the game. “Coach just said keep chopping wood and that’s what we did. We came out with a beautiful victory today.”
Zeigler ran for 109 yards in the victory.
Quarterback Dean Connelly was outstanding in the game as well, throwing for 117 yards and two touchdowns. He also had a 65-yard touchdown run to start the third quarter to put the Lancers up 26-8 with 9:51 left in the third. He had 80 yards on the ground and was Eastern's Offensive Player of the Game.
“(Central) was paying a lot of attention to Mike (Zeigler) because he’s an outstanding runner,” Connelly told Letendre about the TD run. “And the line just blocked it real well. I got outside and our receivers block on every play and I got past the defense. It was a good play.”
Central did pull off a wild comeback, outscoring Eastern 20-8 the rest of the way, and had the ball with a chance to win the game. But Eastern’s defense came up big as Tyrell Holmes intercepted a Alex Sgro pass to Dymetric Maisonet to seal the game with 38 seconds to play.
“My line was applying pressure to the quarterback,” Holmes said of the final Central play of the game. “So my line is basically the ones I want to thank. I jumped up and grabbed (the ball). It feels exciting … best feeling of my life."
Holmes was Eastern’s defensive player of the game.
It wasn't all good for Eastern, however, as Weaver defeated Hartford Public 13-6 to eliminate the Lancers from a state tournament berth.
For Bristol Central, it was its best game of the season and a tremendous, albeit heartbreaking, end to the year.
"They played hard out there today," Central coach Doug Pina told Dave Greenleaf about his squad. "They did everything we asked them to do. I can’t ask anything else of them. I’m really proud of the way our kids played today."
Central had the ball in its hands with a chance to win the game, but it wasn't to be.
"We got a couple of bad breaks," Pina said. "The ball just didn’t bounce our way. But we didn’t give up. We kept fighting right to the end. We just ran out of time and out of time outs."
Maisonet scored four touchdowns for the Rams, three on the ground and one on a 27-yard reception. He had 118 rushing yards from the wing formation. He capped a solid senior season by earning the Offensive Player of the Game award.
Maisonet finished his season with 1,234 yards on 229 carries, while completing 48 of 138 passes for 683 yards.
The Defensive Player of the Game for the Rams was senior Dan Belfi, who came back from a painful season-ending knee injury a year ago to have a fine senior year at linebacker.
"It was nice to win the award," Belfi said. "We didn’t get the win, but we played hard. It was disappointing, but I’m happy with the way we played."

(Mike Orazzi photo, top, Bristol Eastern's Mike Zeigler rings the bell after a 34-28 victory over Bristol Central at Muzzy Field Thursday morning.)

(Mike Orazzi photo, left, Eastern's Tyrell Holmes (1) intercepts a pass intended for Central's Dymetric Maisonet (4) with 38 seconds left to seal the Lancers victory.)

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