Springdale's late rally falls short
Avonworth crawled back into the Eastern Conference playoff race but had to withstand a wild finish to turn back Springdale, 28-22, at Lenzner Field.
Springdale's Adam Winklman booted his third field goal of the night, a 30-yarder, with 14.6 seconds left in the game.
The Dynamos then successfully executed an onside kick that was recovered by Sean Dugan at the Avonworth 49.
Down to the final seconds, Springdale quarterback Jake Helman fumbled while being hit and Antelopes senior Andrew Cleary picked up the loose ball, allowing Avonworth to run out the clock.
Helman's chief target on the play was Dugan, who had run for a 72-yard touchdown and caught a 35-yard scoring pass from Helman.
“Absolutely, we were trying to get the ball to Dugan,” Springdale coach Dave Leasure said. “We had him running a switch route down to the outside and tried to get him isolated on one guy, but our protection broke down.”
“We had a man coverage on him with three people deep,” Avonworth coach Duke Johncour said. “He's a tough, hard runner. We thought we'd have him, at times, and he squirted away.”
“At the end of the day, we came up short but the kids fought hard,” said Leasure, whose team needs to win home games against Northgate and Riverview to remain in the playoff hunt.
The Avonworth victory, coupled with Apollo-Ridge's upset over Northgate, has thrown the conference race into a frenzy.Northgate and North Catholic lead with 5-1 records.
Springdale, Apollo-Ridge and Avonworth are a game behind at 4-2. None of the five teams have clinched a playoff berth.
The Antelopes survived four fumbles and a 79-yard kickoff return by Springdale's Justin Wilson to secure the victory.
Senior receiver Ryan Welsh caught three touchdown passes from freshman quarterback Zach Chandler.
While Springdale hung tough, Avonworth put together four scoring drives of at least eight plays each.
“We pounded the ball off tackle and that opened up our play-action passes for (Chandler),” Johncour said. “We made the plays we had to make down the stretch.”
Said Leasure, “All the credit to Avonworth. They played like they needed this game to get into the playoffs. I thought they did a great job up front and controlled the line of scrimmage.”
Dugan and Adam Lock had two fumble recoveries each for the Dynamos.
Despite the loss, Dugan continued his assault on the Springdale record book. His 211 rushing yards gave him 1,210 on the season, about 250 yards behind the school single-season record.
Dugan has 3,724 career yards, about 100 short of the school standard set by Wayne Mundekis.
George Guido is a freelance writer .