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Falcons shut down River Hawks in second half of a 40-20 victory for third win

No trophies were awarded but the Avon High football team took a few seconds to celebrate after Friday night’s 40-20 win over Farmington.

AVON, October 22, 2021 – The Farmington High and Avon High football teams met on the gridiron for the first time in 16 years and it just added to the energy Friday night in Avon.

It was Homecoming, the band was there and the stands were full of students. On the opposite side of the field, dozens of students from Farmington crowded onto the bleachers cheering on their River Hawks.

“It was a like a home game with a bus ride,” Farmington High coach Chris Machol said.

And even if the football teams haven’t met in 16 years, Avon and Farmington have been playing in other sports. “It was great to bring the rivalry back to football,” Avon’s Cameron Dawiczyk said.

The two teams combined to score six touchdowns in the first half before the Falcons shut down the River Hawks in the second half and beat Farmington, 40-20 for their third win in four games. The Falcons (3-1) are off to their best start since 2015 while the River Hawks are 0-6 for the first time since 1991.

The Falcons had a 21-20 lead at the half thanks to an extra point being kicked too low and into the Avon defensive line. River Hawks quarterback Kevin Ives completed seven of his first 14 passes for 100 yards and three touchdowns, including a 45-yard bomb to Jahkai Veal with 1:06 left in the second quarter.

Avon limited Farmington to just one first down on their first three drives in the second half while the Falcons scored on three of their four drives to take a commanding 40-20 lead.

Blocking is hard work as Cameron Casey runs the ball during Friday night’s 40-20 win over Farmington in Avon.

“The kids showed up from the start to the finish,” Avon defensive coordinator Matthew Redman said. “We’re not used to giving up points like that but we were able to make our adjustments in the second half and it showed. We were able to play lights out. I was very proud of the guys for the way they showed resilience.”

Avon head coach Jeff Redman – Matt’s father – was ill and didn’t attend the contest. Matthew Redman and offensive coordinator Brendan Smith ran the team.

While four of the six touchdowns in the first half were through the air, Avon controlled the second half by running the football. Avon quarterback Tabor Engle threw just one pass in the second half but he ran for 140 yards on 10 carries. He finished the contest with a game-high 208 yards on the ground.

“Running the ball is something we pride ourselves on and we were able to do it successfully. I am proud of the whole team,” Matthew Redman said.

“I don’t know why we came out flat in the second half,“ Machol said. “Something changed in the second half. We seemed sluggish. (Avon) made some great adjustments and we didn’t.”

Avon’s Tabor Engle  (9) dives forward for a first down in Friday’s win over Farmington.

Avon had a 21-20 lead at the half and marched 55 yards on nine plays on their first drive of the third quarter to extend their lead to 28-20 on a seven-yard run by Cameron Casey and an extra point from kicker Toby Klafter. Key plays in the drive were a 13-yard run by Casey and a successful fourth down run from Engle to the River Hawk eight-yard line to keep the drive alive.

The Falcons began the fourth quarter with the ball on their own 44-yard line and Engle broke right and drove down the sideline with a 51-yard run to the Farmington two-yard line. Dawiczyk scored on the next play to extend the Falcon lead to 34-20 with 11:14 left in the game. The two-point conversion run failed.

Defensively, Avon had two tackles for a loss on Farmington’s next drive and Ives threw an incomplete pass. After a punt, the Falcons took over on their own 43-yard line. Runs of 10 and 34 yards by Engle put the ball on the River Hawk 13-yard line. Three plays later, Engle scored on a one-yard run to boost the lead to 40-20 with 3:46 remaining.

Farmington took a 7-0 lead, scoring on their opening drive, converting twice on fourth down to keep the drive alive. Punter Griffin Kiniry scrambled for 15 yards on a fake punt run to get a first down.

Avon tied it with a 13-play, 66-yard march of their own, converting twice on fourth down to keep the drive alive. Cameron Casey’s 13-yard touchdown run and the extra point from Toby Klafter made it 7-7.

The Falcons forced a fumble on the kickoff and recovered the ball on the Farmington 23-yard line. Four plays later, it was Engle scoring from the one-yard line for a 14-7 lead.

The River Hawks responded quickly to tie the game on a 9-yard TD reception from Ives to Thomas Keogh. The key play on the drive was a 41-yard run by Luke Watson, who ran for a team-high 88 yards on eight carries.

Avon went ahead again, 21-14, on a 42-yard touchdown pass from Engle to Taylor Brokenshire, the longest TD reception of the season so far for the Falcons.

Ives completed 14 of-32 passes for 143 yards and three touchdowns for the River Hawks. Veal caught seven passes for 87 yards and two touchdowns.

Avon High students fill the grandstands during Friday night’s Homecoming Day win over Farmington.

“It’s been a very, very long time since a Farmington football team won a game,” Machol said. “It’s been two years. Getting off to an 0-6 start with Bloomfield next week is not where we wanted to be. We were hoping to be close to .500 at this time of year. We’re young but we have some talent. We have to up our game and now is the time. You can’t keep waiting for next year.”

Avon, who is ranked No. 4 in the Class M playoff rankings after four games, received 40 yards on 11 carries from Dawicyzk and 33 yards on three carries from Casey. Brokenshire caught three passes for 54 yards and a touchdown for the Falcons (4-1).

Matt Redman couldn’t single out a standout player afterwards. “It takes all of us to get it done,” he said.

Next Friday night in Avon, the Falcons will face an explosive Hartford Public team (2-3) that scored 48 points in a 52-48 loss to Bristol Central.

Center and nose tackle Eamon McLaughlin (52) celebrate after beating Farmington on Friday night, 40-20.

Avon 40, Farmington 20
At Avon
Farmington (0-6)             7  13  0    0  — 20
Avon (3-1)                        0  21  7  12  — 40
First quarter
F: Jahkai Veal 12 pass from Kevin Ives (Adam Maselek kick), 4:24
Second quarter
A: Cameron Casey 13 run (Toby Klafter kick), 9:43
A: Tabor Engle 1 run (Klafter kick), 7:17
F: Thomas Keough 9 pass from Ives (Maselek kick), 5:09
A: Tyler Brokenshire 42 pass from Engle (Klafter kick), 3:38
F: Veal 45 pass from Ives (kick failed), 1:06
Third quarter
A: Casey 7 run (Klafter kick), 4:59
Fourth quarter
A: Cameron Dawiczyk 2 run (run fails), 11:14
A: Engle 1 run (kick blocked), 4:46
Individual statistics
RUSHING – Farmington Kevin Ives 6-34, Luke Watson 8-88, Matt Olsen 1-minus 2, Jahkai Veal 1-1, Griffin Kiniry 1-6; Avon—Tabor Engle 23-208, Cameron Dawicyzk 11-40, Cameron Casey 3-33, Tyler Brokenshire 1-4
PASSING: Farmington – Kevin Ives 14-32-0, 143; Avon – Tabor Engle 4-11-2, 84
RECEIVING: Farmington – Griffin Kiniry 1-8, Thomas Keough 4-32, Jahkai Veal 7-87, Ryan Parker 1-15; Avon – Tyler Brokenshire 3-54, Arsh Moza 1-30
KICKOFF RETURNS: Dawiczyk (A) 2-43, Brokenshire (A) 1-28; Keough (F) 1-12, Parker (F) 2-33; INTERCEPTIONS: Parker (F)

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 35 years. He was inducted into the New England High School Wrestling Hall of Fame in 2018.

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