AVON — It’s easy, of course, to enjoy the spoils of a lead and the big plays that got you there. It’s another thing altogether to respond when that lead — and the momentum it brings — goes away.
Avon, facing a stiff challenge to its West Shore Conference supremacy of late, saw a 10-point lead evaporate as Cody Callaway brought his Midview Middies into the lead early in the third quarter.
The Eagles, though, responded emphatically: Tommy Glenn went 8-for-11 in the third quarter with two touchdowns, and Avon’s second special teams touchdown — a 67-yard punt return for a score by Braden Friss — broke open an eventual 45-28 win for Avon.
The Eagles improved to 5-0 and 2-0 in the West Shore Conference, while the Middies dropped to 3-2 and 1-1.
“We knew they were a great football team with a great quarterback,” said Friss, who credited the punt return team for opening up daylight on his big touchdown. “Coach (Mike) Elder stressed all week adversity, and how were we going to handle that? So in the locker room, we knew what was at stake and got it done.
“That’s a team that you circle on the calendar, and we were ready for it.”
Avon’s first special teams touchdown — a punt block by Kevin Maloney that Chase Gosselin picked up and ran in from 15 yards out — gave the Eagles a 17-7 edge early in the second quarter. Late in the half, though, Callaway engineered a nine-play, 71-yard drive to get the Middies to within three at half. On the drive, Callaway ran for 15 yards and passed for 53, covering the final 2 with a touchdown run.
Then, Callaway needed just three plays coming out of the locker room to gain the lead: He ran for 20 and, after a Brett Zupancic run, found Logan Bolin for a 54-yard touchdown and the Middies’ first lead.
“That’s one of those moments you really need to have in a season, to see how the kids will respond,” Elder said. “That’s what championship football is all about. We got the adversity we expected and we responded, and I’m proud of them.”
Avon responded by marching 80 yards on 10 plays, in which Glenn went 4-for 6 and found Rhys Ratino for a 6-yard score on fourth down. After a Midview punt, the Eagles drove 60 yards in nine plays — Glenn was 4-for-5 on the drive for 47 yards — and scored again on fourth down, with Glenn finding Chris Maxwell from 1 yard.
Midview went three-and-out, the third being a disputed pass interference call that was waved off after the referee ruled the ball had been tipped at the line. Friss returned the subsequent punt 67 yards for the dagger and a 38-21 lead.
Just like that.
“You take away (17) points on special teams mistakes and you can do the math, it’s a different football game,” said Midview coach Bill Albright.
Midview also allowed a 65-yard kickoff return to Avon’s Michael Nose that set up a second-quarter field goal.
Overall, Glenn was 18-for-24 for 249 yards and three touchdowns, while Callaway accounted for 253 of Midview’s yards, including 71 on the ground.
LET’S TALK: Former Avon defensive back and running back standout Ross Douglas was on hand in his Michigan gear and spoke to the Eagles before the game. Elder said Douglas talked of blowing out the Middies, of “running away from them.” Elder said he and his staff were quick to remind the Avon players of how good Midview was and the threat it posed, to “expect some resistance and overcoming it.”
Contact Joel Hammond at 329-7135 or firstname.lastname@example.org.