AVON — As the Avon seniors took the field Friday for their final regular-season home game, they knew they had a chance to clinch at least a share of the Southwestern Conference title.
They wasted little time reclaiming their championship.
The Eagles found the end zone three times in the first nine minutes on the way to a 35-7 win over Amherst.
Avon (9-0, 8-0 in SWC) not only earned a share of the SWC title, it guaranteed itself a home game in the first round of the Division II playoffs in two weeks, according to joeeitel.com.
Avon’s swarming defense held Amherst star running back Khennedy Scagliozzo to 56 yards on 23 carries. The Comets (5-4, 4-4) were held to 108 yards of offense.
“It felt good to come out here and win a conference championship and shut down the leading rusher in the area,” Avon coach Mike Elder said. “Tonight we knew we were facing a really good back, one of the county’s leading rushing attacks and, boy, did our defense play well. I couldn’t be more proud of them.”
After quarterback Ryan Maloy ran for a 29-yard touchdown on the Eagles’ opening possession, senior linebacker Alex Waters recovered an Amherst fumble deep in Comets territory to set the stage for Maloy to toss a 23-yard scoring pass to Chris Mullins. David Orlando, who led Avon with five receptions, converted both PATs for a 14-0 lead with 6:44 still remaining in the first quarter.
Maloy was 12-of-14 passing for 151 yards and two touchdowns.
“Maloy is a special quarterback. He’s just gotten better and better,” Elder said. “When’s he’s playing quarterback for us we’ve got a chance against anybody.”
With the lead firmly in hand, the Eagles turned to their ground game and senior Tony Eberhardt. He had touchdown runs of 6 and 1 yards to help Avon build a 28-0 lead with 3:38 to play in the first half.
Eberhardt was the game’s leading rusher with 60 yards on 11 carries.
“Tonight we came out with an edge. This whole week in practice it felt like we were getting ready for a playoff game,” Eberhardt said. “We had to step it up this week and I feel like we did that on offense and defense. We played a good, solid football game.
“Senior Night was a big deal. It doesn’t really hit you now, but I know once it’s over, hopefully not until after Week 15, it’s something we’ll remember. We can’t really focus on that now.”
Amherst finally got on the board in the fourth quarter when senior linebacker Greg Rhodes scooped up a fumble and went 55 yards for a touchdown.
The Comets enter Week 10 needing a win over Westlake and a fair amount of help to make the playoffs for the first time since 2008.
“The first quarter we had some mental mistakes and it cost us some points,” coach Mike Passerrello said. “We wound up digging ourselves a hole. You can’t put yourself in a hole and try to battle back against a good football team.
“We’re sitting here with five wins and we still have a shot. We’ve got one more game and that’s what we can control. We are guaranteed Week 10. And that’s all we need to worry about.”
Contact Todd Shapiro at 329-7135 or firstname.lastname@example.org.
Avon 35, Amherst 7
Amherst 0 0 0 7 — 7
Avon 21 7 7 0 — 35
AV -- Ryan Maloy, 29 run (David Orlando kick)
AV -- Chris Mullins, 23 pass from Maloy (Orlando kick)
AV -- Tony Eberhardt, 6 run (Orlando kick)
AV -- Eberhardt, 1 run (Orlando kick)
AV -- Mullins, 35 pass from Maloy (Orlando kick)
AM -- Greg Rhodes, 55 fumble return (Allen Matakovich kick)
First downs 7 18
-- by rushing 4 14
-- by passing 1 4
-- by penalty 2 0
Yards rushing 70 207
Yards passing 38 157
Total offense 108 364
Passes att./comp. 9/3 16/13
Intercepted by 0 2
Fumbles/lost 1/1 3/1
Penalties/yards 6/41 8/90
RUSHING — (AM) Khennedy Scagliozzo 23-56, Evan Shawver 4-26, Aaron Gonzalez 2-1, Joey Tomaro 2-(-4), Matt Fairchild 2-(-9). (AV) Tony Eberhardt 11-60, Ryan Maloy 7-45, Tyler Hunter 4-39. Trey Peters 4-27, Timothy Paing 2-12, Chris Mullins 1-9, David Orlando 1-6.
PASSING — (AM) Farichild 1-6-18-0-1, Scgliozzo 2-3-20-0-1. (AV) Maloy 12-14-151-2-0, Carson Gosselin 1-2-6-0-0.
RECEIVING — (AM) Devin Holmes 2-26, Shawver 1-12. (AV) Orlando 5-51, Mullins 4-79, Matt Kennedy 2-22, Tommy Purcell 1-9, Eberhardt 1-(-4).