ELLINGTON >> It was one last day to be together as a team. And the Avon High football team made the best of it last Saturday.
Senior All-State linebacker Jimmy Murphy scored two touchdowns, quarterback Noah Hahn threw three touchdown passes and the Falcons forced five turnovers to finish the season with a 30-13 win over Ellington/Somers.
Avon finished with an 8-3 record under first-year coach Jim Caouette — just the 10th time in school history that Avon won eight games in a single season.
The Falcons didn’t qualify for the Class L tournament but there were plenty of smiles among the Avon players and a few moist eyes as the high school football careers of 12 seniors came to an end.
“I’m just so proud of this team,” Caouette said. “To have a group like this, I’m very lucky. I liked the way we fought for 48 minutes in every game. I have a group like this is awesome.”
Avon wasn’t blown out of any game. They dropped a 16-13 decision to Canton on opening day when the Warriors scored a touchdown on the final play of the game. They nearly erased a 22-point deficit, pulling within one point of Gilbert/Northwestern with a touchdown on the final play of the game. Avon went for the win with a two-point conversion pass play but it was intercepted in the end zone for a 34-33 Gilbert win.
And no one has been closer to beating undefeated Valley Regional/Old Lyme (10-0) than Avon, which dropped a 21-18 decision in September.
“Everyone did their best. That is all you can ask for,” Murphy said.
It was a season full of excitement beginning with Murphy. The hard-driving Murphy scored a team-high 25 touchdowns – 19 on the ground, five through the air and one fumble recovery in the end zone against Ellington/Somers. There was no hiding his passion for the game, nor his intensity.
Frequently, it took multiple tacklers to bring him to the ground. He would duck, rotate and do what it took to keep driving forward. Against Gilbert/Northwestern, he had four defenders around him but found a way to escape and score on a 70-yard touchdown pass.
“My Dad always told me if you don’t do it at 100 percent, then don’t do it,” he said. “If I’m not going 100 percent, I’m not being true to myself.”
Quarterback Noah Hahn shattered the single season record for most touchdown passes – 24, all in the last nine games of the season. He threw for 214 yards and four TD passes in the thrilling 34-33 loss to Gilbert/Northwestern.
“That was such a fun game to play,” Hahn said.
Hahn tied another school record with 280 yards passing in the 21-18 loss to Valley Regional in September. A pretty good year for Hahn, who threw 11 touchdown passes in his first two years as a starting QB.
Seniors Justin Reichler and Dylan Marquis each pulled in eight TD passes. Stephen Griffin, who has started each game since his freshman year, ran for four TDs this fall and caught three TD passes, including a seven-yard pass from Hahn against Ellington to get the scoring started.
“The seniors put a foundation in place,” Caouette said. “We’ll build off this for years to come.”
Avon scored on its first three drives to take a 17-0 lead over Ellington/Somers. Hahn, who completed 10-of- 19 passes for 177 yards and 3 TDs, completed a 24-yard pass to Reichler (4 receptions, 71 yards) on the third play to keep the drive going. Hahn’s pass to Griffin made it 7-0 after the extra point from senior John Burdick.
Burdick kicked his fourth field goal of the season from 32 yards out for a 10-0 lead.
Ellington gained just three yards on its possession. Avon responded with a five-play, 71-yard drive that ended with Murphy scoring on a 20-yard pass from Hahn. The big play on the drive was a 44-yard completion from Hahn to Dylan Marquis on third down and three from the Falcons 36-yard line.
Avon made it 23-0 on a eight-yard touchdown pass from Hahn to Reichler in the second quarter.
The Falcons put this game away when Murphy (15-71 rushing) fell on a fumble in the end zone with 6:38 remaining. Reichler sacked Ellington QB Joe Lesile for a seven-yard loss, pushing the Knights back to the Avon 5-yard line. On the next play, a poor handoff bounced into the end zone.
Sean Del Gallo intercepted two passes for Avon while Marquis intercepted a pass at the five-yard line in the second quarter to stop a Ellington drive. Griffin and Murphy recovered fumbles for Avon.
Avon 30, Ellington/Somers 13
Avon (8-3) 17 6 0 7 — 30
Ellington/Somers (5-5) 0 0 7 6 — 13
A: Stephen Griffin 7 pass from Noah Hahn (John Burdick kick), 8:06
A: Burdick 32 FG, 3:57
A: Jimmy Murphy 36 from Hahn (Burdick kick), 0:35
A: Justin Reichler 8 pass from Hahn (pass fails), 6:14
E: Zach Luginbuhl 18 run (Ben Kloter kick), 7:43
A: Murphy recovers fumble in end zone (Burdick kick), 6:28
E: Christian Rider 5 run (kick blocked), 1:32
RUSHING: Avon – Noah Hahn 8-minus 5, Stephen Griffin 8-22, Jimmy Murphy 15-71; Ellington – Christian Rider 6-45, Zach Luginbuhl 7-35, Jeremiah Mason 4-16, Joe Lesile 7-minus 17; Christian Schneider 7-41, Mike Casciano 1-3, Mark Hickman 1-4
PASSING: Avon – Noah Hahn 10-19-0, 177; Ellington – Rider 0-1-0, Lesile 3-15-2, 52, Schneider 0-2-1, 0
RECEIVING: Avon – Justin Reichler 4-71; Stephen Griffin 1-7, Jimmy Murphy 3-33, Dylan Marquis 1-44, Luke Meaney 1-22; Ellington – Mike Casciano 1-5, Ben Kloter 1-19, Shane McGowan 1-33
RETURNS: Kickoff returns – Devin Macko (A) 1-22, Joe Lesile (E) 4-34, Mark Hickman (E) 1-68; Punt returns – Teddy Allmendinger (A) 2-0
FUMBLE RECOVERY: Shane McGowan (E), Stephen Griffin (A), Jimmy Murphy (A); INTERCEPTIONS: Dylan Marquis (A) 1-6, Sean Del Gallo (A) 2-0