KRISTIN BAUER / CHRONICLE Avon High School's Tony Eberhardt (4) and Danny Burdick (67) celebrate a touch down scored by Toledo St. John's Jesuit High School on Friday night, Nov. 3.
KRISTIN BAUER Enlarge
AVON — Redemption finally came for Avon junior quarterback Ryan Maloy.
Maloy and the Eagles dominated the much-bigger Toledo St. John’s Jesuit 28-12 in a
Division II regional quarterfinal Friday night at Joe Firment Stadium.
Last year the Eagles, the top-ranked Division II team in the state, built a big lead, but fell 27-26 to border rival Avon Lake when Maloy threw an interception as the Eagles were driving for the go-ahead score in the final minute.
This year Avon, again the No. 1 team in the state, built a big lead. Maloy, with a big assist from senior running back Tony Eberhardt, refused to let it slip away this time.
Maloy’s 54-yard scramble set up a
9-yard Eberhardt touchdown run late in the third quarter that put the Eagles (11-0) up more than one score.
Eberhardt rushed for 124 yards on 19 carries and found the end zone three times. Maloy threw for 130 yards and rushed for 70 on 12 carries.
The Eagles will face Highland, a 21-14 winner over Anthony Wayne, in the regional final next week.
Maloy went a long way to put last season’s disappointment behind him.
“I watched him mature and develop all offseason,” Avon coach Mike Elder said of Maloy. “He said himself, and I loved it, that sometimes you have to see dark moments before you can experience some good ones.
“He’s got so much confidence that’s there’s nothing that’s going to waver him. He keeps playing the next play, and that’s probably what I’m most proud of from him … that he continues to grind it out regardless of adversity.”
Maloy said last season’s playoff loss made him a better quarterback.
“I learned from it and it’s a driving factor for me wanting to win in Week 11,” he said. “I grew from it as a quarterback and I think it made me a better player. I’m not grateful it happened, but I think it’s been a great learning experience and something for me to overcome from my sophomore year.
“I overcame it and it makes me want to win more, but I really don’t think about it anymore.”
Avon, the top seed in Division II, Region 6, failed to cover the game’s opening kickoff, giving the eighth-seeded Titans (6-5) the ball at the Eagles 31-yard line.
It took them six plays to move to the 1, but on fourth down the Avon defense stuffed Ohio State signee Dallas Gant for a 1-yard loss.
The Eagles had the ball back, but in the shadow of their own end zone. After a 3-yard Maloy run up the middle, sophomore safety Gary Batch intercepted Maloy’s first pass of the game at the Avon 31.
This time St. John’s took advantage. The Titans needed just six plays to find the end zone, with Gant scoring the game’s first touchdown from 15 yards out.
The extra point was blocked, but St. John’s led 6-0.
The Eagles immediately answered, going 69 yards in nine plays with Maloy leveling the score with a 1-yard run.
David Orlando banged home the extra point, giving Avon a lead it would not relinquish.
“That’s a really talented football team we played,” Elder said. “Their size is something we haven’t seen all year and that’s about as big a high school football team you will see.
“For us to have that goal-line stand when they were trying to pound the ball with a kid that’s going to Ohio State … for us to come up big and not give up any points was a huge moment in that game.”
Eberhardt scored on a 17-yard run the first time Avon touched the ball in the second half to give the Eagles a 14-6 lead, and he scored again from 9 yards out late in the third to give them some breathing room.
A Titans’ punt midway through the fourth quarter gave the Eagles the ball back midway through the fourth. Eberhardt took over from there, carrying the ball eight straight times for 59 yards. His 3-yard touchdown was the backbreaker.
“Going into that (drive) I knew we had to ice this game,” Eberhardt said. “Every carry I was looking for a way to get a first down. I give it up to my (offensive) line, though. I couldn’t do anything without them.
“They played so good today. It was all on them, honestly. In a situation like that we knew it was not over, that we had to finish it.”
Elder said his offensive line took over.
“He’d be the first one to tell you the offensive line was getting push, and when they get the other team on its heels, he’ll finish it,” Elder said of Eberhardt. “If you aren’t coming downhill with him, he’s going to make you go backwards.
“That’s exactly what happened. We got a good push. He runs really hard with low shoulder pads and was able to grind it out. That drive exhibited a lot of toughness from our football team against a big, physical team.”
St. John’s coach Larry McDaniel was impressed with Avon.
“We thought that we would be able to run the ball a little more than we were able to,” he said. “We had some chunks now and then, but that’s a fine football team that wasn’t 10-0 for nothing.
“They came out with a chip on their shoulder. When you look at what happened to those guys the last two years I knew their coaches were going to have them ready to play. They played an outstanding football game.”
Contact Mike Perry at 329-7135 or firstname.lastname@example.org.
Avon 28, St. John’s Jesuit 12
St. John’s Jesuit 6 0 0 6 — 12
Avon 7 0 14 7 — 28
SJ – Dallas Gant, 15 run (kick blocked)
A – Ryan Maloy, 1 run (David Orlando kick)
A – Tony Eberhardt, 17 run (Orlando kick)
A – Eberhardt, 9 run (Orlando kick)
A – Eberhardt, 3 run (Orlando kick)
SJ – Jaedyn McKinstry, 5 pass from Brady Lichtenberg (pass failed)
First downs 13 17
— by rushing 10 10
— by passing 3 7
— by penalty 0 0
Yards rushing 144 194
Yards passing 77 130
Total offense 221 324
Passes att./comp. 15/11 16/10
Intercepted by 1 1
Fumbles/lost 0/0 0/0
Penalties/yards 5/40 5/31
RUSHING — (SJ) CJ Valentine 15-6, Dallas Gant 10-41, Alex Gayle 8-40, Brady Lichtenberg 10-(-4). (A) Tony Eberhardt 19-124, Ryan Maloy 12-70.
PASSING — (SJ) Lichtenberg 11-15-77-1-1. (A) Maloy 10-16-130-0-1.
RECEIVING — (SJ) Gant 4-13, Valentine 3-14, Dimitrios Mitsopoulos 2-27, Jaedyn McKinstry 2-22 (A) Chris Mullins 4-61, David Orlando 4-39, Matt Kennedy 1-22, Kyle Kudla 1-8.