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RHAM prevails to earn first win of the season over Avon

RHAM's Dylan DePersia reaches the ball across the goal line to score his second TD of the day in a 30-20 win over Avon Saturday in Hebron.

RHAM’s Dylan DePersia reaches the ball across the goal line to score his second TD of the day in a 30-20 win over Avon Saturday in Hebron.

HEBRON, Oct. 1 – These are not easy days for the Avon High football team. The Falcons aren’t blessed with great depth nor seasoned veterans.

“For some of these kids, this is their fourth game of varsity football,” head coach Sal Cintorino said. “They’re trying to get acclimated to a different speed (of football). They’re doing a good job but they need to take it to a different level.”

Avon did some good things Saturday in a CCC Division III East Division game with RHAM. Quarterback Dylan Burgos threw his fourth touchdown pass of the season to Peter Gerosa while Leon Asberry and Jack Jones each ran well and scored a touchdown.

But Avon couldn’t stop RHAM from moving the ball on the ground in a 30-20 loss to the Sachems, who won for the first time this season. Avon slips to 0-4 for the first time since 2005. Things don’t get any easier with the Falcons traveling to No. 10 Bloomfield on Friday night to face the defending Class S champion Warhawks.

“We have each others back and we’re trying to be the best we can be,” Cintorino said. “The true test of character is when things are going difficult. When things are going well, it’s easy. We’re going to win together and we lose together.

“We did a lot of good things today but we made some big mistakes,” he said. “It’s a great group of kids and I think they’ll respond well.

Avon's Leon Asberry (32)  drives into the end zone for a touchdown in Saturday's game against RHAM.

Avon’s Leon Asberry (32) drives into the end zone for a touchdown in Saturday’s game against RHAM.

Avon (0-4, 0-2 CCC DIv. III East) took the early lead when Leon Asberry recovered a fumble on the Sachem six-yard line when the RHAM punter mishandled the ball. On the next play, Avon’s Jack Jones scored from six yards away for a 6-0 lead with just 1:31 gone in the game. However, the Falcons just pushed the extra point to the right and missed it.

RHAM (1-3, 1-1 CCC DIv. III East) marched 73 yards on its next possession on nine plays, sparked by a big 20-yard run from quarterback Cal Redman. Tommy Doyle scored on a three-yard run for RHAM but the Sachems also missed the extra point for a 6-6 tie.

Avon looked sharp on its next drive, converting on a third down and one play with a five-yard run from Asberry and a fourth down and two play with a two-yard run from Jones to keep the drive alive. But the drive stalled at the RHAM 17 thanks to a pair of sacks from RHAM’s Austin Greenlaw.

RHAM took a 12-6 lead on a nine-yard touchdown pass from Redman to Greenlaw in a drive that was aided by a 15-yard pass interference penalty against Avon.

Avon's Peter Gerosa outleaps RHAM's Aaron Woods to grab a 49 yard touchdown pass in the fourth quarter of Avon's loss to RHAM on Saturday.

Avon’s Peter Gerosa outleaps RHAM’s Aaron Woods to grab a 49 yard touchdown pass in the fourth quarter of Avon’s loss to RHAM on Saturday.

The Falcons didn’t fold. Dan Quick returned the kickoff 13 yards to the 50-yard line. Burgos completed a 10-yard pass to Gerosa and Asberry broke through the line into open space for a 35-yard run to the five-yard line. Asberry scored from the five with 7:02 remaining. He also ran for the two-point conversion to give Avon a 14-12 lead with 7:02 left in the second quarter.

RHAM took a 20-14 lead on a 36-yard touchdown reception from Redman to Dylan DePersia and a two-point conversion pass with 4:13 left in the first half.

Again, Avon looked impressive in its march downfield but came up empty. The drive began at the Avon 30-yard line and reached the RHAM five-yard line with 27 seconds remaining. A 20-yard run from Jones helped move the Falcons into scoring position. But the drive ended on the final play of the first half with Aaron Wood intercepting a Burgos pass in the end zone.

Avon opened the third quarter with another drive that reached the RHAM 23-yard line. Burgos completed a five-yard pass to Jones but when he was hit, the ball came loose and the Sachems recovered. RHAM marched 73 yards on nine plays, scoring on a three-yard run from DePersia to take a 28-14 lead after another two-point conversion pass.

The Falcons made a play in the fourth quarter when Jadon Folkein came up a fumble on the Avon 45-yard line. After a six-yard from Jones, Gerosa outleaped a RHAM defender for the ball and scored on a 49-yard touchdown pass from Burgos to cut the lead to 28-20 with 6:21 remaining in the game.

Avon lined up for the extra point. But when extra point holder Tommy Donovan bobbled the snap, he saw a heavy rush coming in and tried to run for the two points. He nearly made it but was stopped.

RHAM converted on third down twice to eat much of the remaining time in the game. Avon got the ball back with 23 seconds remaining but Burgos was sacked on two consecutive plays – the last which was a safety.

“Acceptance on our team is not about performance. It’s based on effort and attitude,” RHAM coach Tom Hammon said. “For Dylan (DePersia), the light finally went on. He realized lowering his shoulder and is better than juking and jiving. When he runs as hard as he did, he can be a force to be reckoned with.” DePersia finished with a pair of touchdowns.

Avon's Tommy Donovan celebrates with teammate Leon Asberry after a touchdown run in Saturday's loss to RHAM.

Avon’s Tommy Donovan celebrates with teammate Leon Asberry after a touchdown run in Saturday’s loss to RHAM.

NOTES: It was just the third game between the two schools. The teams split a pair of games in 2004-05 as members of the Nutmeg Conference. … RHAM sacked Burgos five times for 24 yards and a safety. … After playing Bloomfield on Friday, the Falcons will be off for a week before returning home to host Berlin on Saturday, Oct. 22, at 2 p.m.

RHAM 30, Avon 20
At Hebron
Avon (0-4)           6    8  0  6 — 20
RHAM (1-3)        6  14  8  2  — 30
First quarter
A: Jack Jones 6 run (kick failed), 10:29
R: Tommy Doyle 3 run (kick fails), 6:25
Second quarter
R: Austin Greenlaw 9 pass from Cal Redman (run fails), 8:05
A: Leon Asberry 5 run (Asberry run), 7:02
R: Dylan DePersia 36 pass from Redman (DePersia pass from Redman), 4:13
Third quarter
R: DePersia 3 run (Sam Macmillan pass from Redman), 3:12
Fourth quarter
A: Peter Gerosa 49 pass from Dylan Burgos (run fails), 6:21
R: Safety: Genaro Anselmo and Austin Greenlaw tackle Burgos in end zone, 0:05
Individual statistics
RUSHING: Avon – Jack Jones 15-80, Dylan Burgos 7-minus 24, Leon Asberry 13-84
PASSING: Avon – Burgos 6-11-1, 91
RECEIVING: Avon – Ryan Ollestad 1-19, Peter Gerosa 3-66, Jack Jones 1-22
RETURNS: Avon – Dan Quick 1-13 (kickoff); Jones 2-25 (kickoff); FUMBLE RECOVERY: Asberry (A), Jadon Folkein (A), Kevin Clark (RHAM); INTERCEPTION: Aaron Wood (RHAM) 1-10; SACKS: Austin Greenlaw (RHAM) 3½-18; Drew Smith (RHAM) 1½-15

Gerry deSimas, Jr., is the editor and founder of The Collinsville Press. He is an award-winning writer and has been covering sports in Connecticut and New England for more than 30 years.

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