’Lopes bounce back again

Avonworth’s Turner Grau helped the Antelopes move ahead with an 86-yard kick-off return that ended in the end zone. The Antelopes scored a 33-12 win over Valley. Photo by Tom Steiner for The Citizen

By JIM RUMBLE

The Avonworth Antelopes football team saw their record improve to 2-0 when they opened conference play at Valley last Friday.

For the second week, the 'Lopes overcame a rickety start on their way to an impressive victory on the road, 33-12.

"The kids played hard and this is a big win," said head coach Duke Johncour. "If we keep starting slow like that, we'll take it as long as we win."

Avonworth was led by quarterback Derek Johncour, who was 17-28 passing for 250 yards and two touchdowns. Receiver Drew Harper had a big night offensively with five receptions for 131 yards.

The Vikings began the game on offense, but the Antelopes obtained great field position when a punt on fourth down to end the Valley possession went practically straight up in the air and gave Avonworth their first offensive possession at their 44-yard line.

Jax Miller ran for two yards on first down, but Johncour's pass was picked clean on the next play and returned 48 yards for a touchdown. The Vikings came up empty on the extra point try but took an early 6-0 lead.

That lead lasted only as long as it took for Turner Grau to receive the ensuing kick-off and race 86 yards for a touchdown. Jason Novosel converted on the extra point kick to put the 'Lopes in front 7-6.

Valley seemed unstoppable on the ground on their next possession, moving the ball from their 32 to the Avonworth 27.

Ben Calloway and Grant Jenkins came up with big plays on defense that forced negative yardage, but the Vikings were able to convert a fourth down and 14 play by completing a 31-yard pass near the back line of the end zone for a touchdown. Penalties moved Valley backwards twice before they came up short on a run attempt for the two-point try, but led 12-7 with 4:44 left in the first quarter.

Avonworth's next drive moved to the Valley 15 yard line but ended when they were facing a fourth down and one to go and couldn't convert on Miller's run.

The 'Lopes’ defense came up big with a tipped pass on third down for the Vikings that was intercepted by Nick Weiser and returned to the Valley 15 to end the first quarter.

Miller ran for seven yards on first down before Johncour completed a pass to Grau near the line of scrimmage that resulted in an 8-yard touchdown. Novosel's kick came next to put Avonworth back in front 14-12.

A muffed punt and five penalties managed to thwart the efforts of the Antelopes through the remainder of the quarter, but Valley had even bigger concerns with penalties as Avonworth maintained their 14-12 lead at the half.

The Antelopes took advantage of good field position to begin the third quarter, moving 59 yards in five plays to extend their lead.

A 25-yard reception by Harper and an 11-yard catch by Grau picked up a couple of first downs before Miller's 14-yard TD run followed by Novosel's extra point kick pushed the lead for Avonworth to 21-12.

Miller ended Valley's next possession two plays later with an interception at the Vikings’ 25 yard line.

The Antelopes cashed in on first down with a Johncour -to-Grau connection for the touchdown, but missed on the extra point try to lead 27-12.

The Vikings reached the Avonworth 8 yard line on their next drive, but a stop for a loss of four yards by Callaway lent a hand in the drive coming up empty- handed on fourth down.

The Antelopes followed with a drive that went 89 yards in five plays for their final touchdown.

The highlight was a 75-yard completion from Johncour to Harper followed by Miller's 2-yard touchdown run to complete Avonworth's 33-12 victory.

"We were able to make the plays to get the victory," said Johncour. "The kids responded and played the way they are capable of playing.