NEWLAND — In a contest marked by big plays on offense, it was a late defensive stop that netted the Avery Vikings two points that proved to be the difference in a 14-12 junior varsity football win over visiting Draughn on Thursday, Sept. 19, at MacDonald Stadium.
In the opening minute of the contest, Draughn drew first blood, as running back Tywon Nemorin scurried past the Avery defense for a 19-yard touchdown. The conversion attempt failed, but the Wildcats took the early 6-0 lead.
The teams traded possessions until early in the second quarter, when the Vikings special teams blocked a Draughn punt, recovering the football at the Wildcats’ 1-yard line. Avery capitalized when running back Adrian Shook scored on a 1-yard plunge to tie the contest at 6-6 with 8:47 remaining in the half.
Neither team managed to add to their respective scores for the remainder of the half, entering the intermission deadlocked.
Early in the third period, however, the Vikings seized its first lead of the night. A 57-yard pass connection from quarterback Logan Gilliam to receiver Trisan Adams set up a 15-yard Gilliam keeper that crossed the goal line on the left side of the end zone. The two-point conversion failed, but the Big Red held a 12-6 lead with 7:20 remaining in the quarter.
Avery carried its lead through the remainder of the quarter and early into the final stanza before Draughn found an answer to the swarming Viking defense. A John Robert Abernathy screen pass to running back Nemorin opened up, as blocking down the sideline helped spring the speedy Wildcats back for an 85-yard touchdown. The conversion attempt failed, but DHS tied the contest at 12-12 with 7:18 to play in the game.
Undaunted, Avery’s offense marched downfield seeking the go-ahead and potential winning score. A pair of long passes to Adams and teammate Marcus Milliron helped the Vikings set up shop inside the Draughn 5-yard line, but disaster struck as the Big Red fumbled the football, which the Wildcats recovered at its own 3-yard line.
Backed up in the shadow of its own goal post, the Wildcats looked to run the football to give its offense some breathing room. The stout Avery defense refused to surrender any yardage, however, as lineman Landon Hughes snuffed out a running play, tackling Nemorin in his own end zone for a safety with 2:40 remaining, putting Avery back on top by a 14-12 margin.
Upon receiving possession following the free kick, Avery sought to run out the clock, but Draughn prevented the Vikings from earning an all-important first down. Opting to punt on a 4th-and-4 play, the AHS punt was blocked by Draughn. The ball caromed forward, however, where Avery recovered the football just beyond the first-down line to gain, giving possession back to the Vikings with a new set of downs. The Big Red then ran out the remainder of the game clock and sealed its first win of the season.