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Avon holds onto the ball in 20-14 win over rival Farmington

Nick Seminara closes in on Farmington’s Matthew Rodrigues in Friday night’s CCC contest in Avon. The Falcons won 20-14.

AVON, Oct. 20, 2023 – The Avon High defense made some big plays in Friday night’s game with arch-rival Farmington including a big goal line stand early in the game that saw the visiting River Hawks come up one yard shy of the goal line and a touchdown.

But the Falcon’s single-wing offense did their part as well with long, long drives that kept the Farmington offense off the field as Avon won their second game of the season with a 20-14 Central Connecticut Conference victory on the turf field outside the high school.

Avon (2-3) had a 22-play, 99-yard touchdown drive that ate up 12:58 of the first half – more than a quarter. Every play was a run. The Falcons ate up the final 6:27 of the second quarter with a 10-play drive that ended on the 15-yard line when time expired.

Avon had scoring drives of 11 plays and 56 yards and 10 plays and 70 yards in the second half. After the River Hawks cut the lead to six on an 82-yard kickoff return from Quincy Kiniry, Avon got the ball with 7:41 remaining and never gave it up.

The Falcons picked up five yards on a crucial fourth down and four call on their own 45-yard line with 5:27 remaining. But Murphy powered through the line for five yards to keep the drive alive and the River Hawks offense off the field.

Nik Meltser led the Falcons with a game-high 154 yards rushing and one touchdown on 22 carries while John Murphy ran for 133 yards and two TDs on 25 carries.

Farmington had just 17 offensive snaps in the game and just three first downs in the game.

“We don’t have a ton of big bodies and they took advantage of that,” Farmington coach Chris Machol said. “We made them earn it. Every day was (for) three yards but at the end of the day, when they have the size they do and we have the size we do, it’s a tough offense us to compete with.”

The single-wing is a run-oriented approach. The Falcons attempted just one pass in the game with four seconds left in the first half on the River Hawks 15-yard line.

Meltser and Murphy both ran for more than 100 yards for the second time in the last three games. Meltser had a game-high 154 yards and a touchdown on 22 carries while Murphy had 133 yards and two touchdowns on 25 carries.

“It was incredible,” Meltser said. “The blocking we had was so precise. In practice (this week), we stressed hard about (doing) the little things, getting the snap right, not jumping (offside) and we showed that today in the biggest game of the year so far. We did a phenomenal job on both sides of the ball.”

“We just pounded the rock and they weren’t going to stop us every drive,” Avon High coach Brendan Smith said. “(On) every play, we kept gaining momentum and gaining confidence.”

Cartier Davies (6) makes a hit to force an iincompletion in Thursday’s game.

Avon’s defense set the tone on the first series of the game. Thanks to a 41-yard run around the right end by Farmington’s Jahkai Veal and a 12-yard pass to Andrew Rannucci, the River Hawks had first down and goal on the Avon eight-yard line.

But Murphy made a tackle in the backfield for a loss of eight. A completion to Rannucci went for no yards. Veal’s nine-yard run to the right put the ball on the Avon three-yard line. On fourth down, quarterback Ty Nogeic was stopped one yard shy of the end zone by Avon’s Andrew Sielski.

Then, the Falcons went on an epic march. Three times, Avon converted on fourth down to keep the drive alive. A six-yard run from Murphy on a fourth down-and-three play with 9:40 left in the second quarter kept the ball in Avon’s hands.

Meltser scored on a 22-yard run up the middle on the longest play of the game for Avon at that point of the contest for an 8-0 lead after a two-point conversion run from Murphy.

“That’s the best drive we’ve had all year and maybe the best drive we’ve had in three years,” Smith said.

Farmington (2-4) gained minus-one yard on their next possession and punted. Avon ate up the final 6:27 of the first half, Meltser had a 19-yard run to the Farmington 15 with eight seconds left in the second quarter.

Avon’s Derek Graves ended Farmington’s first possession of the second half with an interception and a 29-yard return. The Falcons scored on six-yard run up the middle by Murphy to take a 14-0 lead. The conversion run failed.

Farmington got on the scoreboard on a 45-yard touchdown run through the secondary from Veal with 2:41 left in the third quarter to cut the lead to 14-7.

But Avon methodically marched 70 yards on eight plays with Murphy scoring from the six with 8:00 remaining to give the Falcons a 20-7 lead.

The kickoff return from Kiniry cut the lead to six, 20-14, but Avon go the ball back with 7:41 remaining and never gave it up. Murphy got five yards on a fourth down and four play to keep the drive alive as the Falcons ran out the clock.

“This is huge,” Smith said. “The Farmington piece is what it is. This means everything it means all of the work we’ve been doing is going in the right direction. We will enjoy this one.”

Avon travels to Rocky Hill next week for a CCC Tier III match with the Terriers at John McIvar Field beginning at 6:30 p.m. The River Hawks will be on the road for a CCC contest at E.O. Smith in Storrs.

Avon 20, Farmington 14
At Avon
Farmington (2-3)           0  0  7  7  — 14
Avon (2-4)                       0  8  6  6  — 20
Second quarter
A: Nik Meltser 22 run (John Murphy run), 7:44
Third quarter
A: Murphy 8 run (run fails), 4:38
F: Jahkai Veal 45 run (Jonas Kelly kick), 2:41
Fourth quarter
A: Murphy 6 run (run fails), 8:00
F: Quincy Kiniry 82 kickoff return (Kelly kick), 7:42
Individual results
RUSHING: Avon – Nik Meltser 22-154, John Murphy 25-133, Nick Seminara 6-53, David Minami 5-16, Carter Davies 1-minus 2; Farmington — Ty Nogiec 3-8, Matthew Rodrigues 4-minus 2, Jahkai Veal 3-95
PASSING: Avon – David Minami 0-1-0, 0, Farmington – Ty Nogiec 2-5-1, 12, Jahkai Veal 1-1, 15
RECEIVING: Farmington – Andrew Ranucci 3-27
INTERCEPTION: Derek Graces (A) 1-29

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

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