Avon 21, Tolland 13
Avon (4-2)0 14 0 7 -- 21 Tolland (3-2)7 0 0 6 – 13
T: Kevin Rioux 30 run (Sal Ternullo kick)
A: Ross McDonald 53 run (David Wyrick kick), 6:15
A: McDonald 10 run (Wyrick kick), 0:23
T: Devin Roper 15 pass from Ternullo (kick failed), 8:24
A: McDonald 6 run (Wyrick kick), 3:37
RUSHING: Avon -- Mike D'Onofrio 7-39, Ross McDonald 14-147, David Wyrick 4-minus 2, Terence Olsen 1-0, Pat Leszczinski 5-22
PASSING: Avon -- David Wyrick 1-7-1, 1 yard
RECEIVING: Avon -- Mike D'Onofrio 1-1
RETURNS: Mike D'Onofrio 1-19 (punt); Terense Olsen 2-29 (kickoff), Mike D'Onofrio 1-19 (kickoff)
PUNTING: T.J. Stolzenberg 3-89
SACKS: D.L. McDonald 1-7
Last year (2008)
By GERRY deSIMAS, JR.
Avon Football Online
TOLLAND – A year ago, the Avon High football team beat Tolland in the final 10 seconds on its march to the 2007 Pequot Conference Uncas Division championship. The Eagles, however, qualified for the Class SS playoffs where they whipped Bullard Havens in the semifinals, 47-14 and nearly upset Seymour before falling in the championship game, 44-34.
So the Eagles approached Friday night’s game as a chance to show who is boss in the Uncas Division once and for all.
But the Falcons played well in all facets of the game to earn a 21-13 victory. Ross McDonald ran for three TDs and a career-high 148 yards as the Falcons (4-2, 4-0 Pequot Uncas) took a big step toward defending its Uncas title with the victory under the lights and in front of a full house at Tolland Middle School.
It sets up a showdown with Ellington (5-1, 4-0 Pequot Uncas) on Saturday night under the lights in Avon. The winner will be in control of its championship destiny.
Avon led 14-7 at halftime and into the fourth quarter. The Eagles cut the lead to one on Devin Roper’s 15-yard touchdown pass from Sal Ternullo with 8:24 remaining.
But Avon’s Terence Olsen blocked the extra point, laying out flat to block the kick and lead Avon with a 14-13 lead.
After the kickoff, the Falcons took over on their own 37-yard line.
“We knew what we needed to do,” Avon coach Brett Quinion said. “Chew up some clock and keep the ball out of Tolland’s hands.”
Pat Leszczinski ran for seven and three yards, respectively, for a first down. Ross McDonald had hard, solid runs of four and 11 yards for another first down with Sonny Portelance and D.L. McDonald making key blocks on the 11-yard run.
After another four plays, Avon had another first down before McDonald blasted 23 yards to the Tolland six. McDonald scored with 3:37 remaining and David Wyrick hit the extra point to extend the lead to eight points, 21-13.
Desperate, the Eagles marched down the field but T.J. Stolzenberg intercepted a pass on the 1-yard line with about a minute remaining. Three quarterback sneaks moved the ball to the Avon 4 and the Falcons choose to punt. Tyler D’Onofrio got a nice snap off to punter T.J. Stolzenberg, who hit a 35-yard punt. But Tolland turned the ball over on downs and the Falcon fans poured onto the field to celebrate.
“It was everything you could ask for in a high school game,” Quinion said. “It was filled with intensity, emotion and supreme effort by both squads. Night games like this allow so many more fans to come to the game and it was an event not just a game.”
Avon rushed for 224 yards on 33 carries. Wyrick completed the only pass he threw to Mike D’Onofrio for a yard.
“Our offensive line was the difference in this game,” Quinion said.
The strong play began early when Mike Dugan and Andrew Livingstone tackled the Tolland runner at the Eagle 9-yard line on the game’s opening kickoff. The Eagles took a 7-0 lead on a 30-yard run by Kevin Rioux but the Falcons remained close and tied the game with 6:15 left in the second quarter on a 53-yard run from Ross McDonald, on an off-tackle play with key blocks from Lambert Givens, D.L. McDonald and Terence Olsen to get into open space.
“Not enough credit gets given to the guys that open these holes up and it was a beautifully run play,” Quinion said. “The hole was there and Ross turned on the jets and scored. Those two plays, the opening kick off and that run told me that we could go toe to toe with Tolland.”
On the kickoff, Zak Blawie and Dom Nistal had excellent coverage to make the tackle inside the Tolland 25. The Eagles began marching but faced a key fourth-and-one at their own 46-yard line. But the Falcon defense made the stop, giving Avon the ball on the Tolland 46.
Avon moved downfield but it wasn’t easy. On third-and-9 from the Eagle 34-yard-line, Mike D’Onofrio ran 18 yards on a sweep play for the first down. Two plays later, it was third-and-6 from the Tolland 11.
The Eagles had two players shadowing D’Onofrio so Avon put him into motion and ran a trap play in the other direction. McDonald scored on an 11-yard run with 23 seconds left in the half and a 14-7 lead for the Falcons.
“As we walked off the field at halftime, I knew that we played a near perfect half,” Quinion said.
Avon owns a 11-2 edge over Tolland in the overall series between the two schools.