Avonworth waltzes past Riverview
Class A No. 10 Avonworth pitched its second consecutive shutout, defeating injury-depleted Riverview, 26-0, in Eastern Conference play Saturday afternoon at muddy Riverside Park in Oakmont.
"I thought we battled strong today," Riverview coach Todd Massack said. "But, unfortunately, (Avonworth) is a good football team."
Riverview (2-3, 2-2) played without senior starting quarterback Jacob Milberger, who is out with a shoulder injury he suffered in last week's loss at North Catholic. Senior Corey Bickert was forced to play quarterback rather than his customary spot at a wide receiver.
"I think Corey does a great job at the quarterback position, but then, we're losing him as a receiver, unfortunately," Massack said. "It just takes another athlete off of the field."
Without Bickert out wide, the Antelopes (4-1, 4-1) contained Riverview's offense relatively easily and, in the process, forced five turnovers -- three fumble recoveries and two interceptions.
"(The defense) is stepping up; I'm proud of them," Avonworth coach Duke Johncour said.
Avonworth broke through late in the first half when senior running back Ricky Lawniczak ran 38 yards to give the Antelopes a first-and-goal on the Riverview 9.
"We were waiting for it. Finally we got one through, and that's what we needed," Johncour said.
Three plays later, senior quarterback Brian Vales punched the ball in from the 1 to give the Antelopes a 7-0 lead just before the half.
On their first possession of the third quarter -- following senior David Monroe's 40-yard punt return -- Avonworth extended its lead to 14-0 on sophomore running back Anthony Tomasino's 11 yard run.
Near the end of the third quarter, the Antelopes put the game out of reach when Vales intercepted a Bickert pass and returned it 75 yards before being tackled just inside the Riverview 10.
Lawniczak scored from a yard out two plays later, making it 20-0 after a failed conversion. Avonworth scored its final touchdown with 3 seconds remaining but took a knee in lieu of an extra point.
In the fourth quarter, Riverview senior offensive lineman Matt Gauger went down with an apparent neck injury after a scrum. He was taken off the field on a stretcher and transported by ambulance with his mother at his side to a local hospital.
"He had feeling in his arms and his legs. I'm hoping that was all precautionary," Massack said. "It's always scary when you see that. We're hoping for the best."