ELYRIA — It had all the makings of a trap game for Avon.
But the Eagles didn’t dare peek past Elyria Catholic to next week’s showdown at Midview, when the West Shore Conference lead and a bundle of computer points will be on the line.
Thanks to Antonio Orr’s
90-yard kickoff return to start the game Friday night, Avon got off to a great start and fended off the hard-nosed Panthers
45-14 at Knights of Columbus Field. Avon (5-1 overall) is tied atop the WSC standings with the Middies at 3-0. EC (3-3) fell to 1-2 in league play.
“You want to do that,” Avon coach Mike Elder said of the opening score. “I felt we were the better football team, but if you let a team hang around and get confidence — which we did. EC played a great football game for a while there.”
With 7:58 still left in the first quarter, Avon was up 14-0 after taking advantage of a Panther fumble recovered by Domonic Bodnar. The Eagles marched
42 yards in 10 plays. The game appeared to be wrapped up right then and there, but the Panthers didn’t get the message.
Justin Taylor’s 85-yard touchdown run put EC right back in the game a play later, and the Panthers hung around through halftime.
Taylor’s second score, from 18 yards, closed the gap to 21-14, but a couple of more huge plays and nice returns kept Avon in great field position and in control.
The Eagles answered Taylor’s touchdowns with an 86-yard bomb from David Zeh to Rhys Ratino and a 13-yarder to Kevin Stotko.
“Jumping out early was important,” Elder said. “Obviously, the score was 28-14 at the half. Without that kickoff return, it’s a one-touchdown game. We were in a football game. Our kids felt it. EC should be proud of their kids.”
“We have tough kids and we have a tough program,” said EC coach Mike Polevacik. “Avon’s a heck of a team. Coach Elder was complementary after the game, but I told him he’s got another team that could make a run at it (state championship).
“I just think at the end of the day, the big plays killed us. We just didn’t have enough discipline at times where they were able to turn little passes into big plays and some nice special teams play.”
Zeh completed his first seven passes and finished with four touchdowns and 259 passing yards. Ralph Smith was his favorite target, catching six passes worth 123 yards, including a highlight-reel grab at the back of the end zone that pushed the lead to 38-14 late in the third quarter.
“Yes, sir, I got my feet in,” Smith said. “We weren’t great defensively the first two quarters. That was our main focus at halftime in the locker room. Came out (third quarter), set the defense up and the offense came through.”
Avon shut out EC 17-0 in the second half, led by big plays from linebacker Cory Ohradzansky. Taylor, after netting 146 yards and two scores in the first half, finished with 157.
“Now, it’s Midview week,” Smith said. “Big game.”
RIDDELL ME THIS: Elyria Catholic’s Conner Riddell is the prototypical team player. With starting quarterback Jeremy Holley out for the year with a broken leg, Riddell was moved from his wide receiver slot. Not only that, but Riddell returns punts and kicks and isn’t afraid to take off running with the ball from the shotgun. However, there’s no truth to the rumor he helps pop corn at halftime.
Contact Tim Gebhardt at 329-7135 or email@example.com.