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High school football playoffs: Avon Lake slips up at end of first half against Toledo Central Catholic, sees game slip away

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Avon Lake's Luke Fedders tackles Toledo Central Catholic's Jonzell Norrils Friday night. STEVE MANHEIM / CHRONICLE


PERKINS TWP. -- While Toledo Central Catholic scored four touchdowns in the second half, it was probably the final four minutes of the first half that did Avon Lake in during a 56-16 defeat in a Division II regional semifinal Friday night.

After Shoremen sophomore fullback Griffin Lidyard scored with 3:51 left in the second quarter to cut the Irish’s lead to 14-10, Toledo Central Catholic (12-0) scored twice in the closing minutes to take control of the game.

“I still would like to take back that last drive at the end of the half, we gave them another quick score,” Shoremen coach Matt Kostelnik said. “That’s a learning curve for me on that one. In making the right decision with only 1:35, at least make them burn their timeouts. So I’ll take the blame for that score right before the half, which kind of put things out of reach. That’s my fault with clock management.”

The Irish answered Lidyard’s score with a 57-yard touchdown run by Jase Bowen to make it 21-10 with 3:24 left in the half. Kostelnik called for a pair of passing plays -- both incompletions -- during Avon Lake’s three-and-out possession and Toledo Central Catholic was able to add another touchdown on a 32-yard pass from Troy Durden to Michael Griffin to make it 28-10 with :25 left.

“I think it was the difference in the game,” Irish coach Greg Dempsey said. “Especially when you saw at the end of the second (quarter) how the weather changed. We were able to use the wind and we were able to close it out in the third quarter. We made them go into the wind, knowing they had to throw the football and get some things going. So that was definitely the biggest point of the game, the last two or three minutes of the half.”

Snow flurries pounded the turf at Sandusky Perkins High for the last half of the second quarter and during halftime, and the wind blew steadily from one end zone to the other throughout the game.

The weather made things difficult for Avon Lake senior quarterback Jack Mikolich, who has led a passing attack that has dominated opponents all season, during the middle quarters.

Mikolich went 2-for-10 in the first half, with many of the incompletions floating over the outstretched hands of his receivers.

“We weren’t really able to throw the ball in the first half, whether it was the weather or we weren’t doing reads, weather we weren’t getting off jams … it was kind of a combination of everything,” Kostelnik said. “They didn’t really do anything differently than what we saw on film. We just weren’t able to take advantage of matchups in the secondary like I was hoping to exploit a little bit. Sometimes that’s just going to happen.”

The Irish were also able to bottle up senior running back Konner Riggs, who finished with 79 yards on 28 carries.

“We knew coming into this game that they aren’t a conservative team,” Riggs said. “They like to blitz a lot and they did that to a tee this game and we couldn’t stop them.

“I was trying to get north and south as much as I could. I know they’re blitzing around the edges and the line created a couple good holes out there and I was able to break free a few times.”

Besides a handful of solid runs, Riggs also had the team’s lone offensive highlight in the second half when he broke loose on the right side of the field and took a short Mikolich pass 15 yards for a touchdown that made the score 35-16.

“I saw them blitzing so I thought I was going to be wide open,” Riggs said. “I was a little surprised (there were no defenders around me), but I knew they weren’t covering me.”

Durden’s touchdown pass in the final minute of the first half was the only one he completed -- he threw three times -- during the game. But he led a rushing attack that shredded the Avon Lake defense. Durden rushed for 156 yards and four touchdowns, while the Irish finished with 539 yards on the ground.

“Any time you’re quarterback, they have to account for him, and he steps up in that fashion … running and hitting the big pass play right before half, that’s what you need your guy to do this time of year,” Dempsey said. “(Avon Lake) is a very good football team. The score might say one thing but it sure didn’t seem like it, especially when you’re talking about that first half. We were just able to take advantage of a couple big breaks and then it snowballed -- pardon the pun.”

Joining Durden in the ground assault were Jonzell Norrils, who rushed for 178 yards and a touchdown, Bowen (73 yards and a TD) and Sharif McGee (67 yards).

“They were athletic,” Avon Lake senior linebacker Ryan McCrum said. “It comes down to getting off the blocks. If we could have gotten off some of their blocks, it might have been different.”

Hanging tough throughout most of the first half, coming up with several big defensive stops -- including the game’s lone turnover -- and moving the ball effectively at times were some of the positives for the Shoremen (10-2).

“We did some good things out there, we just needed to do more of them,” Kostelnik said. “We had to get more stops, we had to find that big play … and it just didn’t come. It’s unfortunate to go out that way, but I don’t want to take away from what my seniors did -- a 10-2 season and SWC champions, I couldn’t be prouder of them.”

Contact Shaun Bennett at 329-7137 or Like him on Facebook and follow him @ShaunBennettct on Twitter.

Toledo Central Catholic 56, Avon Lake 16

Avon Lake                     3   7   6   0 — 16
Toledo Central Catholic 7 21 14 14 — 56


TCC — Troy Durden, 1 run (Jerod Landrum kick)

AL — Harry Hebert, 37 field goal

TCC — Durden, 8 run (Landrum kick)

AL — Griffin Lidyard, 1 run (Hebert kick)

TCC — Jase Bowen, 57 run (Landrum kick)

TCC — Michael Griffin, 32 pass from Durden (Landrum kick)

TCC — Jonzell Norrils, 44 run (Landrum kick)

AL — Konner Riggs, 15 pass from Jack Mikolich (pass failed)

TCC — Durden, 68 run (Landrum kick)

TCC — Durden, 2 run (Landrum kick)

TCC — Prentiss Reasonover, 2 run (Landrum kick)

Team statistics


First downs 15 24

— by rushing 4 20

— by passing 7 1

— by penalty 4 3

Yards rushing 73 539

Yards passing 148 32

Total offense 221 571

Passes att./comp. 24/9 3/1

Intercepted by 0 0

Fumbles/lost 2/0 1/1

Penalties/yards 5/35 7/75

Individual statistics

RUSHING — (AL) Konner Riggs 28-79, Jack Mikolich 6-(-6). (TCC) Jonzell Norrils 13-178, Troy Durden 23-156, Jase Bowen 5-73, Sharif McGee 10-67, Prentiss Reasonover 3-51, Noah Zak 3-14.

PASSING — (AL) Mikolich 9-24-148-1-0. (TCC) Durden 1-3-32-1-0.

RECEIVING — (AL) Cole Schraff 3-54, Luke Fedders 2-32, Creed Bolognia 1-31, Konner Riggs 1-15, Griffin Lidyard 1-10, Nick Marsh 1-6. (TCC) Michael Griffin 1-32.


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