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Avonworth holds off Riverview

| Saturday, Sept. 8, 2012, 5:28 p.m.
Valley News Dispatch
Riverview's Jason Anthony (No. 11) intercepts a pass intended for Avonworth's Tony Tomasino (No. 33) during their game at Riverside Park in Oakmont on Saturday, Sept. 8, 2012. Jason Bridge | Valley News Dispatch

For a while, it looked as if Riverview might pull off one of its familiar Riverside Park comebacks.

But Avonworth's Brad Mankey intercepted a pass with nine seconds left in the game to preserve a 15-8 victory Saturday afternoon in Eastern Conference play.

Avonworth (1-1, 1-0) had taken the lead with 4:31 remaining on a 20-yard run by junior running back Andrew Broadus, who appeared to be stopped at the line of scrimmage, but spun around twice, broke three tackles and found a lane to the end zone.

“I felt like a pinball,” Broadus said. “I was hit back and forth and just found an opening. The quarterback and my linemen sprung a few blocks.”

The decisive scoring drive was set up when Tim Wagner misjudged an Avonworth punt, allowing the Antelopes to take over possession at the Raiders 35.

Avonworth converted on a fourth-and-6 at the Riverview 31, as freshman quarterback Zach Chandler found Jesse Zubik alone on a slant left. Broadus scored on the following play.

“This was a great game, I don't think you could ask more from either team,” Avonworth coach Duke Johncour said. “We were fortunate to come away with the victory.”

Riverview (0-2, 0-2). coming off a 25-0 setback at Northgate last week. led Avonworth, a team that has made the WPIAL playoffs each of the past four seasons, for slightly more than half of Saturday's game.

“A tough, close game like this is going to come down to one or two plays,” Raiders coach Todd Massack said.

Riverview's big play occurred in the second quarter, three plays after Raiders sophomore Raymar McCombs intercepted a tipped pass at the Riverview 30.

On third-and-17, quarterback Tyler Nigro pitched to Jason Anthony, who threw a halfback option pass to Wagner, who broke away as part of a 77-yard scoring play.

“I'm proud of our guys, I'm proud of the way they battled,” Massack said. “We only had 25 guys dressed today. We told them before the game to play like Raiders today, and the tradition that we have here at Riverview.”

Avonworth took the second-half kickoff and drove to the Riverview 6 and faced a fourth-and-3. But three consecutive penalties against the Antelopes pushed the ball back to the 21, and Riverview took over on downs after an incomplete pass.

Following the Broadus touchdown, Greg Wagner returned the kickoff to the Raiders 47. Riverview converted two fourth-down opportunities to drive to the Avonworth 18 before Mankey's game-sealing interception.

“This week, I compared this team to the '07 team' that beat Rochester, No. 2 in the state at the time,” Massack said. “We've got a good group of kids. Our offensive line is tough and on defense, we flew to the ball.”

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