First-half scoring leads to Avon Grove's 35-7 rout of Kennett
08/30/2016 01:49PM ● Published by Richard Gaw
Moments after his team recorded a convincing 35-7 victory over visiting Kennett on Aug. 26, Avon Grove head coach Harry O'Neill pointed to the digits on the scoreboard with vitriolic anger.
He excoriated his 104-member team for its poor execution, and suddenly, the kick-off win to the 2016 season meant very little to the players who gathered around O'Neill in a corner of the field.
The coach's message may not have been music to his players' ears, but it may set the tone for the remainder of the season.
“That was a terrible football game, and we can't accept that if we're trying to change the culture here,” O'Neill said. “I wasn't happy with our conditioning. We didn't get first downs when we needed to. We punted too many times and the defense gave us some short fields, but other than that, we didn't execute and we didn't look good.”
Let the record show, however, that the Red Devils did score 35 points in the first half, assisted in large part by Kennett's penalties, turnovers and the inability to capitalize on any scoring threats. Behind junior quarterback Joey Borcky, Avon Grove (1-0) got on the board on its first drive when a 21-yard run by Kevin Francis set up three consecutive runs by Nate Jones, the last leading to a 15-yard touchdown with 9:17 left in the first quarter.
With time slipping away in the first, Dillon Estes' interception of a pass by Kennett quarterback Jake Dilcher took the ball back to the Avon Grove 33 yard-line. A Borcky pass to Jones gained ten yards, and on the next play, Jones found the hole for a 46-yard run that got Avon Grove to the ten yard-line of Kennett. With 5:55 left in the quarter, Jones scampered ten yards for his second touchdown of the game.
On its next possession, Kennett (0-1) lost the handle again, this time when punter James Turley took a poor snap that pushed him back to the Kennett 20 yard-line. After a 17-yard Borcky pass to Jones got the ball to the three-yard-line, Francis plunged over the middle with 4:01 left in the first to give Avon Grove a 21-0 lead.
In the second quarter, Francis scored on defense, when he picked up a loose snap to Dilcher and bolted 78 yards for a touchdown with 3:41 left in the first half. Down four scores heading into halftime, Kennett mounted its only scoring of the game when passes to Jose Rodriguez, Myles Robinson and Kerry Tomasetti moved the ball from their own 36 yard-line to the 13 yard-line of Avon Grove. A pass interference call on the Red Devils moved the chains to the six yard-line, when Dilcher fired a strike to Tomasetti in the end zone with 1:29 remaining in the half.
With just 16 seconds remaining in the first half, Borcky found Brett Yurkovich on a perfectly-placed pass on a timing pattern in the corner of the end zone that rounded out Avon Grove's scoring.
If the second half play of his team frustrated O'Neill, one can imagine how Kennett head coach Doug Langley – who coached at Avon Grove in 2012-13 – must have felt. With time ticking down in the third quarter, Dilcher moved the Blue Demons to Avon Grove's three-yard-line, but the scoring threat was snuffed out by a tough Avon Grove defense. In the fourth quarter, Kennett's turnovers continued, when a fumble recovery by Niko Arhontakis and interceptions by Tyler Boyd and Hunter Luhowy ended subsequent drives.
For Avon Grove, Jones finished with 141 yards on 15 carries and Francis rushed for 52 yards on eight touches, while Robinson ran for 90 yards on 19 carries. Borcky completed six of seven passes for 65 yards, while Dilcher tossed for 202 yards on 16-27 passing that included three interceptions.
Despite a win in the books to begin the new season, O'Neill said there is a lot of work for his team to do in preparation for its Sept. 2 game against Oxford.
“We have to change the way we practice,” he said. “Oxford is going to be very physical next week, and we compare to them in terms of physicality. We have to execute better. We have to be able to throw the ball and get on the edge. Teams are going to load up the box on us, and we have to find another way to move the ball. Every game in our season is tough. They're all tough games. There's no cupcakes on our schedule. We have to prepare for each game like it's a battle. We got lucky by getting 35 points in the first half.
“Everyone is starting to buy into the culture. Football is starting to matter at Avon Grove again. It's a different vibe, but we can't be happy just winning games. We need to take the next step. We have to find the killer instinct.”
To contact Staff Writer Richard L. Gaw, e-mail firstname.lastname@example.org.