Amherst football fans came into Friday’s match-up against Berea-Midpark with optimism after the team’s first defeat last week. The Comets played a much different game this time around, winning against the Titans 51-41.
Allen Matakovich mustered a 28-yard field goal, giving Amherst an early 3-0 lead. The team continued to rack up points throughout the first half.
A following kickoff by Xavier Rivers was caught on the two yard line, sending the Titans on a 39-yard run. But they were no match for the Amherst defense, and the ball turned over on the first play.
Running back Khennedy Scagliozzo found a wide open lane and slashed through the Titans’ front seven for a 74-yard touchdown.
On the initial 30-second drive of the second quarter, the team leaned heavily on the legs of senior corner back Evan Shawver. He busted off a double-digit yardage run on the punt return, carrying the ball 58 yards before breaking the goal line.
The touchdown marked Shawvers’ third of the season, boosting the score 17-0.
Amherst’s defense stepped up and put Berea-Midpark into a offensive stalemate. A successful pass set the Titans snug along the eight yard line, but a short field did not help them find the end zone quickly. Consistent tackles by Greg Rhodes prevented opposing scores during much of the first half.
The Titans looked to be heading into the half without a touchdown when a successful pass from quarterback Trevor Bycznski to Dwayne Holland put seven up with 20 seconds left in the second quarter.
The Comets didn’t have as strong of a start in the third quarter as head coach Mike Passerello would have liked. After Bycznski found wide receiver Garrett Waite for a 66-yard Titans touchdown, the coach could be heard shouting, “Don’t break down!” to his Amherst crew.
After four straight first downs, the Comets found pay dirt. A pass from Scagliozzo to Devin Holmes pushed the team forward by 39 yards; Shawver followed through on a 10-yard run, revving the score up 24-14.
A short time later, in an almost identical play, Scagliozzo found Holmes again for 31-yards and another Comets touchdown.
A26-yard run by Scagliozzo at the start of the fourth quarter pushed the Comets up 37-14.
A Titans kickoff catch was good enough to set running back Bryce Agnew a pathway to score from one yard out, but the on-fire Comets kept pushing back. Scagliozzo found an opening after a faux hand-off, sending the score to 44-21 after a smooth 24-yard run.
With 4:04 left in the game, Berea-Midpark pushed to keep fighting Amherst’s brick wall defense. The team drove first, second, third, and fourth downs on the four-yard line before throwing a botched pass. Defensive tackle John Mania ran after the ball in the end zone, but it was swiped by Comets corner back Hunter Parker, who dove through Mania’s arms and landed on the ball.
But to the confusion of Amherst fans, a touchdown was given to Berea-Midpark on that play, sparking a 14-point rally on twin onside kicks.
Feeling gutsy, the Titans enacted the same play a third time, but Amherst’s Jacob Lezon caught the 55-yard onside kick return and ran it home.
With nine seconds left on the clock, the Comets won it all to up their season record to 4-1.
This weekend is homecoming. Amherst will host Olmsted Falls at 7 p.m. Friday.
Laurie Hamame can be reached at 440-775-1611 or @HamameNews on Twitter