AVON >> Avon High coach Jim Caouette has seen the growth of his team over the first seven weeks of the season. “We’ve gone from a team that gave away a few games to one that can finish games,” he said.
On opening day, the Falcons saw Canton score with no time left on the clock for a 17-14 victory. Three weeks later, Avon saw a furious fourth quarter rally fall short in a 21-18 loss to Valley Regional/Old Lyme – the closest decision so far this year for the Warriors.
Now, the Falcons are taking care of business. Jimmy Murphy ran for a team-high 124 yards and two touchdowns to lead the Falcons to a 38-19 win over Granby under portable lights at the high school as part of Spirit Week and Homecoming celebrations.
With the victory, Avon (5-2, 4-1 Pequot West) has an opportunity to capture a share of its sixth Pequot Conference divisional championship in seven years if they can beat Gilbert/Northwestern (5-1, 3-0 Pequot West) on Saturday in Winsted.
“I’m excited about where we are going,” Caouette said. Not only are the Falcons chasing a piece of the league championship but they want to keep their CIAC Class L playoff hopes alive. The Falcons are ranked 13th with the top eight teams earning a spot in the tournament.
Wins over Gilbert/Northwestern (5-1), Cromwell (4-2) and Ellington/Somers (4-3) would boost Avon’s chances.
The Yellowjackets pose a challenge for Avon with speedy running back Tony Ortiz and quarterback John Lippincott. Ortiz has already run for over 1,000 yards in six games, rushing for 1,087 yards and nine touchdowns.
Ortiz had a career-high 293 yards and a career-long run of 90 yards for a touchdown to help the Yellowjackets beat Canton, 28-15 on Saturday. “He found the holes and broke a lot of tackles,” Lippincott said. “He was popping out of nowhere.”
Added Gilbert coach Scott Salius, “We decided to run the ball and you have to go with what works.”
Lippincott has shown the ability to throw. He has completed 41-of-107 passes for 783 yards and nine touchdowns. But he has also thrown nine interceptions.
Avon will have to convert on their chances. On six drives, Canton drove inside the Gilbert 40-yard line. Twice, they moved inside the 20. Gilbert didn’t give up a point on those six drives.
The Yellowjackets know they will have to stop Jimmy Murphy to have a shot at beating the Falcons. Even in the minutes after the win over Canton, Salius was worried about Murphy. “We’ve been thinking all year how to stop him,” Salius said.
Once again, Murphy helped spark the Falcons in the Saturday night win over Granby.
Murphy’s second touchdown came on a 26-yard run in the third quarter when he was surrounded by three Granby defenders near the 20-yard line. But they didn’t knock him down or try to drive him out-of-bounds. While the Bear defenders relaxed, Murphy spun and tip toed into open space and zipped down the sideline for the touchdown.
Murphy ran for 124 yards and two touchdowns on 10 carries. Quarterback Noah Hahn completed 6-of-13 passes for 85 yards and two touchdown passes. In the last two games, Hahn has thrown five TD passes.
Avon seized command immediately. They marched 62 yards on 10 plays on their opening drive. Murphy, who ran for 23 yards on the drive, scored from the four-yard line with 5:01 left in the first quarter for a 7-0 lead.
Burdick hit a season-long field goal from 32 yards to give Avon a 10-0 lead. Murphy and Teddy Allmendinger had back-to-back runs of 23 and 38 yards, respectively, to highlight the 80-yard march.
On Granby’s next possession, Murphy hit the ballcarrier forcing a fumble that was recovered by Allmendinger. Murphy ran for 25 yards on the first play of the drive and Hahn hit Dylan Marquis for a 14-yard touchdown pass for a 17-0 lead.
Murphy’s hard-driving 26-yard run with 3:22 left in the first half extended Avon’s lead to 24-0.
Early in the third quarter, Avon receiver Justin Reichler bobbled and dropped a potential touchdown pass. He was behind the defense but couldn’t pull the pass in. On Avon’s next offensive series, Hahn went right back to Reichler on the first play. Hahn threw a 20-yard touchdown pass to boost Avon’s lead to 31-0 with 9:23 left in the third quarter.
“We talked all week about taking care of business,” Caouette said. We did the things we are capable of doing. I’m happy with our effort.”
Avon 38, Granby 19
Granby (2-4) 0 0 6 13 — 19
Avon (5-2) 7 17 14 0 — 38
A: Jimmy Murphy 4 run (John Burdick kick), 5:01
A: Burdick 32 FG, 11:05
A: Dylan Marquis 14 pass from Noah Hahn (Burdick kick), 8:56
A: Murphy 26 run (Burdick kick), 3:22
A: Justin Reichler 20 pass from Hahn (Burdick kick), 9:23
G: Connor Field 16 pass from Curt Field (kick blocked), 2:01
A: Teddy Allmendinger 73 interception return (Burdick kick), 0:36
G: Dom Pagano 23 run (Matt Holmes kick), 6:13
G: Ian Downey 30 pass from Pagano (run fails), 0:00
RUSHING: Avon – Dom DeBerardino 1-1, Nick Baldwin 1-0, Noah Hahn 5-9, Teddy Allmendinger 3-50, Jimmy Murphy 10-124, Stephen Griffin 1-11; Granby – Dominic Pagano 23-182, Anthony LaTorre 6-16, Curtis Field 3-7, Jake Largay 2-4, John Brucker 3-0
PASSING: Avon – Noah Hahn 6-13-1, 85; DeBerardino 0-1-0; Granby – Curtis Field 6-24-1, 95; Dominic Pagano 2-4-0, 33
RECEIVING: Avon – Stephen Griffin 1-4, Jimmy Murphy 2-30, Dylan Marquis 1-14, Devon Macko 1-17, Justin Reichler 1-20; Granby – Latorre 1-8, Largay 1-16, Ian Downey 4-50, Connor Field 3-54
INTERCEPTIONS: Avon – Teddy Allmendinger 1-73, Granby – Matt Holmes 1-0; FUMBLE RECOVERY: Holmes (G), Allmendinger (A)
SACKS: John Brucker (G) 1-11