A late touchdown by West Greene pulled the Pioneers to within one point of Avella with just five minutes remaining in the 4th quarter. However, the Eagles defense responded when needed to the most. Avella recovered the ensuing onside kick and killed the clock to improve to what many consider a surprising 3-0 start to 2020.
“It feels fantastic, we put a lot of hard work in the summer,” said Avella head coach Ryan Cecchini. “We’ve turned it around, and this group of kids is a great one, it’s just great to work with them.”
Avella trailed early in the game when West Greene running back Cory Wise opened the game with a 65-yard touchdown grab. It was a demoralizing start as Wise put not only one but two Eagle defenders on the ground with a stiff arm. The Pioneers would take an 8-0 lead and controlled most of the game early on.
“They never give up, their attitude never changed,” Cecchini said. “They never got their heads down, we just kept playing.”
Avella scored late in the second quarter to make it 8-6 heading to the half. Then, the Eagles would face adversity again after Colin Brady scampered for a 43-yard run on West Greene’s opening possession of the second half.
Brady made a defensive play for the Pioneers as well when he tipped and intercepted KJ Rush on Avella’s next possession.
Avella would hold on defensively and tie the game when Tanner Terensky did his best Randy Moss impersonation catching a pass over two Pioneer defenders. Terenky’s catch from Rush came on a big fourth down and long in Pioneer territory.
The Eagles recovered a botched kickoff and marched right back down the field. Rush threw his second touchdown pass of the night on a back shoulder throw to Gabe Lis. Avella made the extra point and led 21-14 heading to the final quarter.
Following a Dalton Lucey interception, West Greene had the football with seven minutes remaining. The Pioneers drove down the field and scored when Wesley Whipkey fooled everyone on an option. He walked into the endzone and made it 21-20. The Avella defense bent but didn’t break and held Cory Wise out of the endzone on the two point try to win by a point, and move to 3-0.
Avella moved into first place in the Tri-County South and has a date with California next week. West Greene falls to 1-1 after having a last week’s game with California canceled. They will play on the road at Carmichaels next Friday.