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Avon Grove comes up inches short, Owen J.Roberts hangs on for win

Wyatt Kirby is brought down from behind as he dives for a couple extra yards (Bill Rudick for MediaNews Group)

WEST GROVE—Both teams will look back at Friday night’s non-league match-up between Owen J Roberts and Avon Grove as a classic, with a dramatic, down to the wire finish. Twice in the finals seconds of the game, the Red Devils (0-3) fell just a few inches short of a win, as the Wildcats (3-0) held on for a 14-13 victory.

“That was an outstanding high school football game,” said Owen J Roberts coach Rich Kolka. “We had a nice game, and the defense made some big plays for us.”

Trailing 14-7 with fewer than three minutes to play, the Red Devils recovered a Wildcats fumble, taking over at their own 19. Seven plays later, thanks in big part to some big runs from Sean Glatts and Colby Riddell and a pass from JT McDonald to Riddell, the Devils were looking at a first and goal from the 4. A penalty pushed them back to the nine, but a couple of runs from Glatts got back to the four, and McDonald ran it in on a keeper to make it a 14-13 game.

AG quarterback JT McDonald tries to get past Connor Leister (Bill Rudick for MediaNews Group)

“As soon as we got the ball on the fumble, the coaches decided right there that if we scored, we were going for the win,” said Devils’ coach Harry O’Neill.

Needing the two-pointer for the win, McDonald pitched it to Glatts, who headed towards the pylon. But there he met Jonathan Hannevig, who stopped Glatts just a few inches shy of the goal line.

“The coaches knew the play that was going to be coming,” said Hannevig. “They lined up, and made the toss. I was kind of getting held and tried to see if I could get the flag, but then just shook my block and made the stop.”

The Red Devils weren’t quite done, though, after missing on the conversion. They recovered an onside kick, then McDonald connected with Riddell for 17 yards to the OJR 34. In walked Bobby Smith to try a 51-yard FG for the win. The try was straight and centered, but just nicked the bottom of the cross bar and fell to the turf, and the ball game was over.

Cooper Chamberlain gets outside for a big gain while Josh Reuter pursues (Bill Rudick for MediaNews Group)

Owen J Roberts took a 14-0 lead into the break at halftime, first scoring on a 1-yard keeper from quarterback Cooper Chamberlain, who led the Wildcats with 80 yards on 11 carries. Then, after the Owen J defense came up with a fumble recovery, Chamberlain hit Hannevig on the first play from scrimmage that followed, with Hannevig covering 78-yards for the score

“We like to try to take a shot going big after a turnover,” said Kolka. “It doesn’t always work out, but that time it did.”

Hannevig, a senior who hadn’t played since he was a freshman, had a big night for the Widlcats. In addition to the game saving stop, and the long touchdown, Hannevig had an interception in the end zone to kill the Devils first deep drive.

Jonathan Hannevig picks off a pass intended for Rowen Hershey (Bill Rudick for MediaNews Group)

“I’m really happy I made the decision to come back and play,” said Hannevig. “On that touchdown, once I caught the ball, I thought I was going to have a chance as long as I could stay in bounds. Then I got a huge block from Connor Leister around the 30 that broke it wide open.”

The third quarter was pretty much all Avon Grove, who ate up nearly the whole period with its running game, and the defense forced a three-and-out on the Wildcats’ sole possession of the quarter, finally getting on the board when McDonald hit Kirby for seven yards and the TD.

Glatts led the Red Devils with 117 yards on 24 carries, while Riddell added another 58 on 15 carries. Defensively, the Devils forced three turnovers—two fumbles and an interception by Glatts.

“I’m disappointed with the loss,” said O’Neill. “But I couldn’t be more pleased with the way this team played tonight.”



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