PARMA, Ohio — Avon had hoped this would be the year, the moment they would finally overcome their past demons and reach a state championship game.
Alas, it was not to be.
The Eagles fought hard this time, but ended up falling in heartbreaking fashion 31-24 to the Archbishop Hoban in the WKYC.com High School Football Playoff Game of the Week. Hoban will play for its sixth state title in seven years, while Avon suffered defeat in the state semifinals for the fifth consecutive season.
Overcoming an early fumble by quarterback Jayvian Crable that nullified a scoring opportunity, the Knights (12-3) raced out to a 21-7 lead thanks to two touchdown passes and a Lamar Sperling plunge. The Eagles cut it to 21-14 with 47 seconds left in the half, but after head coach Mike Elder called a timeout to try and force a Hoban punt, Sperling broke off a long run that set up a 43-yard Charlie Durkin field goal, giving the kids from Akron a 10-point advantage at the break.
Avon (12-3) caught a break when Durkin missed a field goal following a six-minute third-quarter drive, and just before the final period it was Nathaniel Vakos who nailed one from 41 yards out to cut the lead to seven. The Eagle defense was then finally able to hold, leading to QB Sam DeTillo's third rushing touchdown of the night to tie the game at 24.
But with 7:57 left, the Knights went back to work, once again burning six-plus minutes before Sperling scampered in from 15 yards away. DeTillo had once last chance to lead his team downfield and tie things back up, but his fourth-down pass from his own 43 sailed just out of the reach of Tim Conwell.
Tim Tyrell and Hoban will face 12-3 Winton Woods Thursday night in Canton for the OHSAA Division II championship. The Knights have never lost a state title game.
You can re-listen to Dave "Dino" DeNatale's call of tonight's action in the player below, or scroll down for more scores from around Northeast Ohio: