West Shamokin handed first loss of season

Matt Grubba
| Saturday, Sept. 21, 2013

Much of the hype this year has been around North Catholic and Apollo-Ridge, but Avonworth sent a signal that it is a contender in the Eastern Conference.

The Class A No. 6 Antelopes made an early red-zone defensive stand and dominated from there on their way to a 48-0 win on the road at West Shamokin on Friday.

Senior Matt Donovan was a perfect 6 for 6 passing for 149 yards and two touchdowns for Avonworth (4-0, 3-0), while the Antelopes' defense limited West Shamokin (3-1, 3-1) to just 105 yards of offense, 49 of which came on the Wolves' first drive.

“Our kids executed very well tonight, and we're really proud of our team,” Avonworth coach Duke Johncour said. “(West Shamokin) had a good game plan going in, and they moved the ball at first, but our kids muscled up and turned them away.”

West Shamokin moved the ball as far as the Avonworth 11 on its first drive but turned the ball over on downs after Brandon Stover was stopped a yard short on a fourth-and-5 play.

Avonworth then moved the ball 90 yards on 11 plays — surviving a fumbled snap along the way — and took the lead on a 1-yard run by Moses Giles.

“It's hard to tell what could have happened. For all I know, it would've just been 48-7 if we would have punched it in (on the first drive),” West Shamokin coach Jon McCullough said. “Avonworth was great tonight, and things just didn't go our way.”

Very little went right for the Wolves even when they did make a play.

With the Antelopes 2 yards from a score, the West Shamokin defense forced a fumble by Jamal Hughley. Instead of producing a turnover, Antelopes lineman Vince Bevilacqua fell on the fumble in the end zone for a touchdown that gave his team a 21-0 lead.

Even worse for West Shamokin were a pair of injuries to their backfield in the first half.

Junior running back Zac Horner left the game in the first quarter and was on the sideline with his arm in a sling during the second half. Sophomore back Stover suffered a head injury on defense and left the game in an ambulance, which led to a 20-minute delay.

“It just wasn't our night. If we weren't prepared enough, that's on me, but our kids gave effort,” McCullough said. “I don't know that we're even going to show the kids this film because there's not much we can get out of it. We have to forget about it and move on.”

Avonworth, on the other hand, had no trouble finding big plays.

Senior linebacker Andrew Broadus showed great anticipation to pick off a quick screen pass and return it 42 yards for a score to give Avonworth a 34-0 lead at halftime.

Senior receiver Jesse Zubik, who earlier caught a 57-yard touchdown pass, had an 80-yard scoring run from punt formation when he was forced to sidestep the West Shamokin rush and found open field down the sideline.

“They sent 10 kids trying to block the punt, and (Zubik) made an athletic play,” Johncour said. “He just beat everyone to the outside.”

The scoring ended in the third quarter with a 95-yard run by Tyson Kirk as the Antelopes stayed perfect on the season ahead of games against No. 5 Apollo-Ridge and No. 3 North Catholic the next two weeks.

“It's encouraging for us. We came up here thinking we'd need to execute and make plays to win, and they did that,” Johncour said. “We've got a good Apollo team coming to our place next week, and we have to be ready. We have to build on this and keep getting better. It was a very good win.”

Matt Grubba is a staff writer for Trib Total Media. Reach him at mgrubba@tribweb.com or via Twitter @Grubba_Trib.

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