HURON — Win and move on.
It’s a postseason philosophy Avon is familiar with and one the Eagles embraced Friday night.
Despite throwing five interceptions and having to withstand an improbable playoff performance by Perrysburg sophomore backup quarterback Trevor Hafner, Avon rallied in the fourth quarter for a 24-21 victory over the Yellow Jackets in the Division II, Region 4 semifinals.
“We’re still playing in Week 13 and that’s sweet,” Avon coach Mike Elder said. “If I just had a way to mute people who think that this stuff’s easy, and it just happens … it does not. It’s the playoffs and it’s about advancing and winning. We found a way today.
“The object is to score one more point than your opponent, and we scored three. It wasn’t the prettiest performance we’ve had all year, but Perrysburg had a lot to do with that.”
Nobody caused the Eagles fits more than Hafner, who stepped in when starter Gus Dimmerling broke a pair of ribs in the postseason opener.
Hafner threw 12 passes for 211 yards in the first 11 games of the season. He completed 23 for 334 yards and a pair of touchdowns against the Eagles on Friday night.
“Trevor’s got that gunslinger mentality, and we knew he was going to step in there and step up in the pocket and let it rip,” Perrysburg coach Matt Kregel said.
Kregel also said part of his game plan was leaking Dimmerling’s season-ending injury to the newspaper early in the week.
“That’s why we came right out with that,” he said. “As soon as we knew Gus was out, we decided to tell everybody and hope that people would take Trevor a little bit lightly and let him go out there and do his thing.”
But Avon starting quarterback Tommy Glenn did his thing first … and it was also something that he wasn’t used to doing.
Glenn faked a handoff to sophomore running back Gerett Choat, spun out of a tackle and sprinted 54 yards down the sideline to give Avon a 7-0 lead in the first quarter.
“(Glenn) probably had about 27 carries for 9 yards during the regular season,” Elder said. “So that’s a huge play in the playoffs.”
The big high was followed by some lows, as Glenn threw four interceptions.
“They ran a lot of man, a little bit of zone … they played really good defense overall,” Glenn said of Perrysburg. “They got good pressure — they were blitzing a lot — and they made a lot of good plays and I made a lot of mistakes. We still won, but I didn’t play a very good game. Luckily my teammates picked me up and they played a great game, and won us this game.”
One of the big pick-me-ups was provided by Glenn’s backup, sophomore Jake Sopko, who came in during the second quarter after Hafner had hit Seth Durham for a 17-yard touchdown pass to cut Avon’s lead to 10-7.
Sopko went 4-for-4 for 72 yards and a touchdown — including a pair of spectacular catches by Braeden Friss — to again give the Eagles a double-digit lead before halftime.
The play of the game came on third-and-14 from the Avon 23-yard line, when Sopko launched a pass down the middle of the field and Friss made a spectacular diving catch at the Perrysburg 48.
“That was awesome … especially getting up and seeing the crowd,” Friss said. “He put it in a perfect spot. I had to shake off a safety who grabbed my jersey a little bit. It was a perfectly placed ball and I just made a play on it.
“Yeah … I’ll never forget that.”
Sopko said the catch looked just as pretty 30 yards away.
“I was like, ‘Oh no, I overthrew him,’ but he just makes plays … that’s Braeden for you,” Sopko said. “It’s not too hard to get completions when you have great athletes like Braeden making great plays all the time.”
Avon held the 17-7 lead into the fourth quarter, but a pick-six by Perrysburg’s Nick Fleming followed by a Hafner-to-Nathan Patterson touchdown pass gave the Yellow Jackets a 21-17 lead.
The Eagles offense came together for one more drive. Choat ran twice for 10 yards, Glenn completed passes to Friss, Michael Stuckart and Zack Torbert, and then Torbert hauled in a 32-yard over-the-shoulder pass to put the Eagles on top for good.
“It was just a very intense position that I was in,” Torbert said. “I had (my defender) beat and I just came up with it in the end zone. It was a great throw by my quarterback.”
It was the first time Avon had to rally in the fourth quarter to win a game this season … but Elder doesn’t expect it will be their last.
“Our goal is to win a state championship, and I promise you if we’re going to do that there’s going to be a lot more games just like this one,” he said.
Avon 24, Perrysburg 21
Midview 7 10 0 7 — 24
Lorain 0 7 0 14 — 21
A — Tommy Glenn, 54 run
(Eric Sumislawski kick)
A — Sumislawski, 33 field goal
P — Seth Durham, 17 pass from Trevor Hafner (Matthew Kaczinski kick)
A — Braeden Friss, 37 pass from Jake Sopko (Sumislawski kick)
P — Nick Fleming, 47 interception return (Kaczinski kick)
P — Nathan Patterson, 7 pass from Hafner (Kaczinski kick)
A — Zack Torbert, 32 pass from Glenn (Sumislawski kick)
First downs 22 18
— by rushing 8 5
— by passing 14 12
— by penalty 0 1
Yards rushing 109 126
Yards passing 334 256
Total offense 443 382
Passes att./comp. 42/23 36/22
Intercepted by 5 1
Fumbles/lost 2/2 0/0
Penalties/yards 12/107 8/54
RUSHING — (P) Trevor Hafner 17-46, Kadin Lleewellyn 10-32, Mark Delas
8-18, Zach Honsberger 4-13. (A) Gerett Choat 22-87, Tommy Glenn 5-27, Braeden Friss 1-12.
PASSING — (P) Hafner 23-42-334-2-1. (A) Glenn 16-29-175-1-4, Jake Sopko 6-7-81-1-1.
RECEIVING — (P) Lleewellyn 5-106, Matthew Kaczinski 5-64, Seth Durham 4-65, Nathan Patterson 4-38, Nick Fleming 3-34, Scott Freeman 2-27.
(A) Friss 6-118, Rhys Ratino 4-29, Choat 3-24, Dan Durrin 3-23, Zack Torbert 2-39, Michael Stuckart 2-9, Paul Duesler 1-13, Chris Maxwell 1-1.