Shore­men de­fense shines bright in win

The Morning Journal (Lorain, OH) - - SPORTS - By Marissa McNees

Avon lake fought through a rain-soaked night to tem­per high-scor­ing Berea-Mid­park and re­main un­de­feated on the sea­son and in con­trol of first place in the South­west­ern Con­fer­ence.

Avon Lake fought through a rain-soaked night to tem­per Trevor By­czn­ski and the high-scor­ing Berea-Mid­park of­fense in a 49-21 win Oct. 12 to re­main un­de­feated and in con­trol of first place in the South­west­ern Con­fer­ence.

The game had all the mak­ings of a shootout as the teams matched each other point-for-point through much of the third quar­ter, but an as­sist from the weather and some crit­i­cal turnovers al­lowed the Shore­men to pull away to the tune of 28 unan­swered points from the 3:04 mark of the third quar­ter.

Berea-Mid­park (6-2, 5-2 SWC) has one of the most highly touted pass­ing games be­hind By­czn­ski, a Rice com­mit, but as the rain be­gan to fall in earnest, the Ti­tans had to shift fo­cus to the run when re­ceivers couldn’t hang onto the ball and the of­fense was ex­posed by the Shore­men.

Avon Lake forced four turnovers, in­clud­ing two in­ter­cep­tions, and scored 21 points off three in the sec­ond half.

“It def­i­nitely helps,” Avon Lake coach Matt Kostel­nik said of the weather. “Even if it just helps psy­cho­log­i­cally know­ing our run game is what it is.”

The Shore­men run­ning backs cer­tainly ran with the con­fi­dence of a team that knows it can pun­ish op­po­nents on the ground.

Kon­ner Riggs amassed 212 yards and three touch­downs on 30 car­ries in what has be­come busi­ness as usual for the 5-foot-11, 190-pound se­nior.

“Rain com­ing down, it gets a lit­tle bit harder to hold onto the ball, takes out the pass­ing game of both of­fenses so I’m just glad we came out with no turnovers in that (game),” Riggs said.

Even with much of the fo­cus on Berea-Mid­park’s pass­ing game, Kostel­nik de­scribed the Ti­tans as hav­ing a “com­plete of­fense” and didn’t dis­count what they could do with the run.

Berea-Mid­park still put up 401 yards of of­fense against the Shore­men, in­clud­ing 189 rush­ing yards, but Kostel­nik said it was a new­found con­fi­dence that made the dif­fer­ence down the stretch.

“That was the point of em­pha­sis: Don’t play scared,” Kostel­nik said. “These guys are gonna make plays. … They still had 400-some yards of of­fense tonight. That’s a com­plete of­fense. Our kids just stuck to the game plan, they moved around, they were able to get (By­czn­ski) off his square and de­liver when we needed them to.”

Avon Lake quar­ter­back Jack Mikolich was 6 of 13 with 77 yards and a touch­down and added 20 yards and a touch­down on the ground.

By­czn­ski fin­ished 20for-34 with 212 yards and a touch­down for Berea-Mid­park, Bryce Agnew added 12 car­ries for 89 yards and a touch­down and An­thony Miller had a 28-yard touch­down run.

“I don’t know if the weather af­fected us as much as it maybe looked like, I just think we should’ve had some ex­e­cu­tion in crit­i­cal mo­ments,” Berea-Mid­park coach Jon Hunek said. “Re­ally it boils down to ex­e­cu­tion. (Avon Lake) made plays. We didn’t and we put our de­fense in a cou­ple bad spots be­cause we turned the ball over.”

KYLE SOOY — THE MORN­ING JOUR­NAL

Avon Lake’s Kon­ner Riggs takes the ball through the BereaMid­park de­fense on Oct. 12.

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