AVON - Avon didn't let a little thing like an early interception return for a touchdown keep it from clearing a big hurdle on its quest to win the West Shore Conference and make the playoffs.
The Eagles came back from that mistake to manhandled North Ridgeville 35-7 Friday night.
Avon wouldn't let the Rangers get anything going, as the defense stymied the running game and applied constant pressure to quarterback P.J. Bunevich.
"Our defense played outstanding from start to finish," Avon coach Mike Elder said. "Obviously the seven we gave them was on offense and we have to clean that up. Our defense is pretty good and people are going to start noticing that."
Justin O'Rourke was intercepted on Avon's first two possessions, with the second one returned 58 yards by Christian Watkins for the only touchdown North Ridgeville would get.
"My teammates were definitely behind me," O'Rourke said. "They kept telling me, 'Let it go, let it go.' You have to have a short memory. We definitely knew coming into the game what we wanted to do, but you miss plays and you get plays. You take what you can get."
Avon came right back to tie the game with 16 seconds left in the first quarter as O'Rourke connected with a wide-open Jacob Mullins for a 15-yard touchdown. Brad Young added the point and it was a new ballgame.
From that point on it was all Avon.
The Eagles went to a hurry-up, no-huddle offense with 10:07 left in the half and quickly moved down the field for a nine-play, 80-yard drive capped by a Cory Furnas plunge from the 1.
With just 43 seconds left in the half, Avon added its third score as Matt Eckhardt caught a pass deflected by Watkins and sprinted into the end zone.
The play covered the final 38 yards of a six-play, 71-yard drive, and the Eagles took a 21-7 lead into the locker room.
Avon almost had a 28-7 lead at the half as Matt Tomlin intercepted a Bunevich pass and took it back 51 yards to the 4 before being stopped as the clock ran out.
"I think the key to the game was that we took the momentum from the very beginning of the game, but to their credit they took it back," North Ridgeville coach Jeff Reisen said. "And that's the bottom line. When Watkins made the pick and put us up 7-0, we're the visiting team and the underdog and that gave us a spark, but they came back and won the game 35-7. I can't say anything about our kids because they played hard, but we lost to a very good team."
Avon added touchdowns in the third and fourth quarters to put the icing on the cake.
NEED MORE POWER: There was a blackout of about 20 minutes with 5:15 left in the half. In the darkness the North Ridgeville student body could be heard saying "Alex Sismour, Alex Sismour" in a tribute to the freshman who was killed last weekend in an accident. A banner with the words 'This ones for you Alex' was displayed in the stadium.
Contact Ron Nenadal at 329-7135 or firstname.lastname@example.org.