Winning streaks can prove paradoxical affairs. While they provide momentum and a certain feeling of invincibility, they also bring a degree of pressure. No team wants to do worse than the team that proceeded them. Bristol answered the challenge when they defeated Morrisville 40-6 this past Thanksgiving Day.
The two crosstown foes have locked horns 89 times in a rivalry dating back to 1928. No games were played in 2001, 2012 and 2013 due to scheduling. Bristol has dominated the series 53-33-3. More tellingly, the Warriors had won the last 17 meetings, taking last year's contest by a 23-0 score.
This year the odds seemed to reverse and favor Morrisville. The Bulldogs entered the contest sporting a 6-6 record. Four weeks ago, they defeated Jenkintown 38-13 to capture the District One Class A championship, before losing a Regional title show down to a powerful Lackawanna Trail squad by a 54-20 margin.
Bristol, on the other hand, had battled through a rough, seesaw campaign that left them with a 3-6 record. After defeating KIPP DuBois Collegiate Academy in the season opener, they lost six of their next seven games before downing Lower Moreland 52-18 in the final game of the regular season. That was five weeks ago and every coach knows teams can become rusty and disinterested when faced with such long layoffs.
The Warriors, however, lived up to their name on Thanksgiving Day. They came ready to play. Opting for an onside kick they handed the Bulldogs the ball near midfield. When a couple of runs and short flanker screen passes netted only a few yards Morrisville coach Steve Schweiker decided to defy Mother Nature and pass deep into gusty 40 mile per hour winds. The ball ended up in the hands of Bristol’s Brandon Anthony who returned it to the Warriors’ 27-yard line.
Here Bristol put coach Mike Ciotti’s game plan into effect. Senior lineman John Burnett summed up the strategy. “We knew our game plan. We kept hammering them. We had all our starters back. We knew what we were doing out there.”
Runs by Lyn Anthony, Eishorn Perry and Dante Morris moved the ball to Bristol’s 45-yard line where the mercurial Perry took charge. Busting through the Morrisville line, the 5-11, 160 pound senior running back outraced the Dawgs secondary to record the game’s first score with under five minutes elapsed on the game clock.
After Morrisville stalled on its next possession, the Warriors went to work, continuing to eat up yards on the ground. For the day, Bristol ran the ball 41 times for a total of 331 yards. They did not pass once the entire game.
Fullback Elijah Alexandre tallied the next two times for the Warriors and Eishorn Perry would add another touchdown as the buzzer ended the first half. Bristol made good on all their run extra-points, giving them a 32-0 lead going into the locker room.
Half time festivities featured the Class of 2019 Bristol Hall of Fame inductees. Included on this star-studded list was Mary Galione-Dansbury, Natalie Burd, Erica Lalli-Rudesyle, Travis Gale and Michael Pinelli. The quintet joined the other 107 Bristol athletes already enshrined in the Hall.
With the ceremonies complete, the present-day Warriors went right back to work. Taking the second half kickoff they marched straight down the field with Dante Morris running in from five yards out. Morris would also do the honors by running in the extra point and setting off the mercy rule.
Morrisville finally reached the end zone in the game's closing moments on the strength of runs and passes by quarterback Bennet Waters. All told, Waters would complete 7 of 20 passes for 83 yards. His final scamper netted seven yards, making the final score 40-6.
After the game Eishon Perry was awarded the Snee award for Bristol’s player of the game. Perry finished with 129 rushing yards and two touchdowns. Morrisville’s Mike Larkin was the Snee Award winner for the Bulldogs.
Bristol had certainly lived up to the challenge of previous teams by extending the Warrior’s winning streak to 18 games.