Antelopes put down Rebels 30-13

Avonworth’s stand-out quarterback Derek Johncour (pictured at far right) threw two touchdown passes as the Antelopes defeated Seton LaSalle in a non-conference game last Friday. Photo by Tom Steiner for The Citizen

By JIM RUMBLE

At the start of their non-conference football game, it looked as though the Avonworth Antelopes were in for a tough night when they hosted Seton LaSalle last Friday. But thanks to the stellar play of the defense, the 'Lopes rolled to their fourth straight win, defeating the Rebels 30-13.

"They [Seton LaSalle] were well coached, they had a good game plan, and they gave us a battle," said Avonworth coach Duke Johncour.

The 'Lopes displayed good balance on offense as quarterback Derek Johncour threw two touchdown passes and running back Jax Miller rushed for 125 yards and two touchdowns.

Following a three-and-out possession by Avonworth to start the game, Seton LaSalle went right to work when their first drive moved 83 yards in nine plays for a touchdown. The key play on the drive was an 18-yard pass completion on a fourth down and six situation that set up a 15-yard touchdown run followed by the extra point kick to put the Rebels on top 7-0 with 5:20 remaining in the first quarter.

The 'Lopes responded with an impressive drive of their own that moved 70 yards in 17 plays for a touchdown. Miller carried the ball nine times on the possession that included a three-yard touchdown. Jason Novosel followed with the extra point kick to tie the score at 7-7 with 9:46 left in the second quarter.

Seton LaSalle netted zero yards on their next drive, and a short punt on fourth down gave Avonworth good field position to start their next possession from their 47 yard line.

The Antelopes overcame two holding penalties when Johncour completed a 24-yard pass to Turner Grau and a 14-yard completion to Nick Weiser that put the ball at the Rebels’ six. Miller ran the ball into the end zone from there, and Novosel followed with the extra point kick to put Avonworth in front 14-7 with 4:57 left in the second quarter.

Seton LaSalle's next possession went backwards with a holding penalty and a tackle for a loss by Stephen Ezar that forced a fourth down punt from the Rebels’ 13. Another short punt that bounced backwards allowed the Avonworth offense to set up at the Seton LaSalle 26.

The 'Lopes reached the Rebels’ six yard line but had to settle for a 23-yard field goal by Novosel to lead 17-7 with 1:04 left on the clock.

Andy Tedesco intercepted a pass by Seton LaSalle, but that was negated by Johncour's interception that allowed the teams to head to halftime with Avonworth maintaining their 17-7 lead.

Avonworth was not able to take advantage of an interception by Grau to start the third quarter, but they did capitalize on a short punt by Seton LaSalle late in the period that had their offense starting from the Seton LaSalle 30.

Miller ran the ball three consecutive times before Johncour completed a three-yard pass to Ethan Syam for the touchdown. The extra point attempt was botched, but the Antelopes moved ahead 23-7 with 1:17 left in the third quarter.

Park Penrod recovered a fumble on the ensuing possession by the Rebels at their 23 yard line, but the ‘Lopes were turned away following a sack and a fourth down pass that fell incomplete on the first play of the fourth quarter.

Seton LaSalle’s next possession ended with an interception by Drew Harper that helped set up Avonworth’s final touchdown. Starting from the ‘Lopes’ 42 yard line, consecutive runs by Miller produced a first down at the Rebels’ 48 yard line. Grau, who finished the game with 10 catches for 123 yards, hauled in a pass after being left wide open over the middle to complete a 48-yard touchdown. Novosel’s kick followed to put Avonworth comfortably ahead 30-7 with 8:34 remaining in the game.

The Rebels scored on a two-yard touchdown run with :22 remaining, but Syam blocked the extra point attempt to put the final score at 30-13.

Avonworth (3-1, 6-1) is currently in a tie for second place in the Allegheny Conference with Steel Valley and behind undefeated Shady Side Academy (4-0, 6-0).