BRUNSWICK — Any dream Avon had of winning a state championship couldn’t stand up to the harsh reality of Akron Hoban’s depth and the second-half onslaught it unleashed Friday in a Division II state semifinal at Brunswick Auto Mart Stadium.
Final score: Akron Hoban 30, Avon 6.
The Eagles made a couple of rare mistakes in the first half that didn’t help their cause. An interception in the red zone and an inadvertent touch of a Hoban punt put Avon in a bind.
Still, the Eagles trailed just 10-6 at halftime.
“I thought we played a solid first half except those turnovers,” Avon coach Mike Elder said. “Honestly, at halftime, we should have been winning the football game.”
The second half, which has pretty much been an Avon strong point all season, was all Hoban and its two quick and elusive tailbacks — sophomore Deamonte Trayanum and junior Tyris Dickerson — on this night.
Trayanum ran for 98 of his 115 yards and scored twice in the second half, while Dickerson finished with 77 yards on the ground as the Knights advanced to their third straight title game. Hoban, which won the past two Division III state championships, plays Cincinnati Winton Woods on Thursday in Canton for the D-II crown.
Avon finished with a school-best 13-1 record.
The Eagles, who outgained Hoban 327-245 for the game and picked up six more first downs, controlled the football for most of the first half while Hoban netted only 69 yards of offense.
Ryan Maloy’s 7-yard touchdown with 45 seconds left in the first quarter gave Avon a 6-3 lead — David Orlando’s point-after attempt was blocked — that could have and probably should have been bigger.
The Eagles had driven the opening kickoff from their own 20 all the way to Hoban’s 29 when the first huge swing happened. Garrett Houser picked off Maloy’s pass inside the 10-yard line and returned it all the way to Avon’s 20.
Still, the Eagles’ defense held Hoban to a field goal.
But Avon wasn’t through with the self-inflicted wounds. After Maloy’s touchdown, Avon’s defense forced the Knights to punt from midfield but the kick was short and hit one of the Eagles’ up-field blockers on the leg.
Hoban’s Ja’Sean Cogbum recovered the ball at Avon’s 22 and it took Hoban just seven plays to find the end zone, and even then freshman quarterback Shane Hamm fumbled the ball as he was nearing the goal line only to have it recovered by the ever-alert Houser for a touchdown.
Avon had one more serious drive in the half but it ended at the 18-yard line where Maloy was run out of bounds trying to locate an open receiver.
Avon had 154 yards of offense in the first half as Maloy gained 39 on the ground over his first seven carries. He finished with just 17 on 19 attempts, however, as Hoban’s pass rush became more effective as the game wore on.
“In the first half, (Hoban) shouldn’t have even had the lead,” Maloy said. “They scored off a fumble off of a punt and they capitalized on it. We shot ourselves in the foot and they never looked back once they took the momentum of the game.”
And take it the Knights did.
Hoban got the second-half kick and, with Trayanum finding his groove, quickly scored to make it 17-6.
After a three-and-out, the Knights scored again to make it 23-6 with 6:03 left in the quarter and the writing was on the wall.
“Our line really came out and played like I knew they could in the second half,” Hoban coach Tim Tyrrell said. “We were able to knock them off the ball. It really gave the running backs those alleys to run through.”
Hoban’s depth played a huge part in its ability to wear down the Eagles. They constantly changed personnel, leaving them fresh deep into the second half.
The Knights’ defense turned itself around in the second half as well, playing a lot more man coverage in the second half to control Maloy’s ability to run out of trouble.
“We sent more pressure up the middle,” Tyrell said. “I thought the quarterback (Maloy) seemed a little uneasy with the pressure in his face.”
Despite the loss, Elder couldn’t have been more proud of his team’s effort.
“We came out with the expectation of winning and we didn’t,” he said. “They’re a really good football team with great players but our kids battled and fought hard. I’m proud of them.”
“Unbelievable,” Maloy of the team’s season. “All these seniors are like brothers to me. Win or lose, I love every single one of them. I have their back, they have mine. Some of the most real friendships have been created from this year and I wouldn’t change it for anything.”
Senior Chris Mullins summed up the team’s feelings.
“We haven’t been back to the state final four since 2011,” he said. “After coming together and after all the injuries, it’s obviously not the result we wanted but I couldn’t be more thankful for what football has taught me.
“Coach Elder and these guys — they’ve taught me much beyond football and I’m so thankful for all of them.”
Contact Tim Gebhardt at 329-7135 or email@example.com.
Akron Hoban 30, Avon 6
Hoban 3 7 13 7 — 30
Avon 6 0 0 0 — 6
H—FG Jacob Branham 31
A—Ryan Maloy 7 run (kick blocked)
H—Garrett Houser recovered Shane Hamm fumble in end zone (Branham kick)
H—Hamm 18 run (Branham kick)
H—Deamonte Trayanum 16 run (kick blocked)
H—Trayanum 22 run (Branham kick)
First downs 12 18
— by rushing 10 7
— by passing 1 10
— by penalty 1 1
Yards rushing 227 114
Yards passing 18 213
Total offense 245 327
Passes att./comp. 6/2 30/19
Intercepted by 2 1
Fumbles/lost 1/0 1/1
Penalties/yards 10/105 7/82
RUSHING—(H) Deamonte Trayanum
8-115, Tyris Dickerson 16-77, Shane Hamm 8-26, Garrett Houser 1-8, Mason Tipton 1-1. (A) Nick Perusek 12-74, Tony Eberhardt 8-23, Ryan Maloy 19-17, David Orlando 1-0.
PASSING—(H) Shane Hamm 2-6-18-0-1. (A) Ryan Maloy 19-30-213-0-2.
RECEIVING—(H) Jalen Knight 1-11, Garrett Houser 1-7. (A) David Orlando 8-63, Tony Eberhardt 2-58, Nick Perusek 2-41, Tommy Purcell 3-31, Chris Mullens 3-14, Matt Kennedy 1-6.
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