ROCKY HILL – Yes, the Avon High football team can play with the teams in the Central Connecticut Conference and win. The Falcons made their long-awaited CCC debut Friday night with a convincing 27-0 victory over Rocky Hill at John McVicar Field.
Avon broke open the contest with the hard running of quarterback Ian McDonald and Teddy Allmendinger and a stingy run defense. It was a scoreless ballgame late in the second quarter when the Falcons faced third down and 23 with about 44 seconds left. McDonald had just been sacked for a 12-yard loss.
But McDonald found Allmendinger on a little screen pass to his left and Allmendinger took off. He made several tacklers miss and broke three tackles in the final 10 yards before scoring on a 45-yard touchdown pass to give Avon a 6-0 lead with 29 seconds left in the first half.
On the first drive of the second half, Avon marched 80 yards on nine plays with McDonald capping off the drive with a 14-yard touchdown run. He also broke three tackles in the final 10 yards before scoring the touchdown. A two-point run from Allmendinger gave Avon a commanding 14-0 lead with 7:46 left in the third quarter.
‘It’s kind of a mentality when you’re out there,” Allmendinger said regarding breaking tackles. “We don’t have a ton of players but we have a lot of heart and we keep our feet moving.”
Avon’s defense stood tall. The Falcons allowed Rocky Hill to gain just seven yards and intercepted two passes on the Terriers’ first four offensive possessions of the second half.
“We knew it would be a dog fight but we got that first CCC win and it’s a shutout,” Avon coach Jim Caouette said. “That’s pretty cool.”
McDonald, Avon’s second quarterback, was the catalyst. He led all rushers with 51 yards on 17 carries. He completed six of his first six passes for 166 yards and a touchdown. McDonald ran for two touchdowns and intercepted a pass and without breaking stride, racing 40 yards to the end zone for the score.
“At halftime, we realized we’re up against a good team. And we knew that coming in,” McDonald said. “It was our first game in the CCC and we really wanted to win and prove to everyone that Avon can win in the CCC.”
It wasn’t the best of starts for the Falcons. Rocky Hill took the opening kickoff and ate up nearly seven minutes, converting three times on third down to keep its drive alive and converting once on fourth down. But a fumble on the Avon 13-yard line ended the drive for the Terriers.
Avon’s offense sputtered with just one first down on its first three drives, two punts by McDonald under 20 yards and four tackles for losses by Rocky Hill.
“It was a great effort by our kids,” Rocky Hill coach Mark Fritz said. “But some things didn’t go our way. Some of it was self-imposed, some of it was not.”
Allmendinger helped Avon take control. With 44 seconds remaining in the first half, Avon was facing a third down and 23 on the Rocky Hill 45-yard line. McDonald was tripped by Rocky Hill linebacker Ricky Montalvo resulting in a 12-yard sack.
McDonald got the ball to Allmendinger on a little screen pass to the left side. And Allmendinger started running, evading tackles and breaking tackles to score on a 45-yard touchdown reception with 29 seconds left in the second quarter for a 6-0 lead. The extra point attempt was wide left.
In the last 15 yards, Allmendinger broke three tackles. He broke two attempts by Rocky Hill defenders to make arm tackles and was strong enough to push away Rocky Hill linebacker Diamante Baker, who has his helmet in Allmendinger’s side.
“It just happened,” Allmendinger said. “But it felt good.”
Avon built on its lead with its opening drive of the second half, marching 80 yards on nine plays in 4:14. McDonald gave Avon a 14-0 lead, breaking three would-be tackles on a 14-yard touchdown run. “My (teammates) set me up. It’s my job to finish it off by beating those last few guys,” McDonald said.
The Falcons made it 21-0 on its next drive – a nine play drive over 67 yards with McDonald scoring from the eight. The key play on the drive was a 59-yard completion from McDonald to Sean Del Gallo down the right sideline.
McDonald completed his first six passes of the day with 166 yards and a touchdown. Del Gallo caught four passes for a career-high 114 yards with two sharp catches on his fingertips. He caught the 59-yard pass from McDonald and stride and would have scored a touchdown. But the would-be 79-yard touchdown reception was reduced due to an illegal downfield block on the play.
Meanwhile, Avon’s defense found its stride. They limited Rocky Hill to 13 plays and seven yards on their first four drives of the second half. Avon intercepted two passes, including a 40-yard interception return by McDonald. Andrew Blackmore also had an interception.
GRID DUST: The win could be a costly one for the Falcons. A pair of two-way starters suffered injuries in the game and did not return. Robert Bujwid, a starting receiver and defensive back, injured his ankle in the third quarter and Andrew Marshall, a starting offensive and defense lineman, hurt his knee in the fourth quarter. … It was a young Rocky Hill team on the field. Quarterback Daniel Cavallaro is a sophomore. Running back William White (9 rushes, 46 yards) is a sophomore, Joseph Cavallaro (10-49) is a sophomore and Grant Nieves (20-41) is a junior. Fritz said the Terriers started eight sophomores and just two seniors. … This was the first win by Avon over Rocky Hill in five attempts. The most recent game between the two teams came in 2005. … Avon improved to 29-27 on opening day and this was their 11th opening day shutout. The most recent came in 2012 when the Falcons blanked Stafford/East Windsor, 27-0. … Rocky Hill and Avon are both CCC Division III teams. Rocky Hill plays in the Western Division while Avon is in the Eastern Division.
Avon 27, Rocky Hill 0
At Rocky Hill
Avon (1-0) 0 6 15 6 — 27
Rocky Hill (0-1) 0 0 0 0 — 0
A: Teddy Allmendinger 45 pass from Ian McDonald (kick failed), 0:29
A: McDonald 14 run (Allmendinger run) 7:46
A: McDonald 8 run (Alden Getz kick), 2:53
A: McDonald 40 interception return (kick fails), 9:50
RUSHING: Avon – Leon Ashberry 1-0, Andrew Blackmore 5-3, Teddy Allmendinger 4-18, Gunner Propecius 1-2, Sean DelGallo 1-2, Ian McDonald 17-51; Rocky Hill – Daniel Carvallaro 1-5, William White 9-46, Grant Nieves 20-41, Joseph Ferreira 1-4, Dante Baker 1-0, Joseph Catania 10-49
PASSING: Avon – McDonald 7-8-0, 176; Rocky Hill – Daniel Carvallaro 3-9-2, 54
RECEIVING: Avon – Sean Del Gallo 4-114, Allmendinger 1-45, Jacque Jones 1-7, Geoff Kirk 1-10; Rocky Hill – Diamante Baker 1-14, Atamis Afzal 1-9, Grant Nieves 1-31
INT RETURNS: McDonald 1-40, Blackmore 1-0; FUMBLE RECOVERY: Avon; SACKS – Rocky Hill 2-20