The first half of Friday’s game against rival Avon Lake seemed like a completely different contest from the second.
Although the Shoremen walked away with a 40-28 win, Amherst fought hard to lead by 14 before the offense struggled to put points on the board, and the Shoremen gave the Comets defense a run for its money.
Amherst’s defense has been laying down the law this season, and Friday it was junior linebacker Christian Velez who impressed, stopping rushing traffic.
The offense had its shining stars, too, including Evan Shawver — he hauled in a picture-perfect pass from running back Khennedy Scagliozzo on his way to a 67-yard touchdown reception.
Wide receiver Devin Holmes grabbed a 19-yard pass, creating a seven-point gap between the Shoremen and the Comets by halftime. Shawver made a quick run to the middle after catching the third quarter kick-off, bringing the Comets within striking distance.
With no deep opposition, Scagliozzo broke free untouched for a three-yard touchdown run, carrying his team 21-7 with 9:20 left in the quarter.
In a flash, the energy at Mercy Health Stadium was changed from excitement to panic.
Avon Lake took control with down-the-field passes and long, gashing runs. Amherst failed to string together plays, and by the end of the third quarter, the game was too close for comfort, with a single point separating the foes.
Amherst enjoyed a quick but effective rush, putting pressure on the offense as they inched closer to the goal line. A pass from Matt Fairchild to Devin Holmes in the end zone gave the Comets a lead.
In a do-or-die kind of scenario, Amherst found its back against the wall in the fourth quarter when a two-point conversion tied the game 28-28 with 4:11 left. The Shoremen took advantage, moving the ball down the field with ease and scoring another touchdown run from the 1o yard line.
With four seconds left on the clock, the Comets hung their heads low after a fumbled lateral made way for another Avon Lake touchdown, sealing the game at 40-28.
Amherst will look to change the pace this week when the Comets face the North Olmsted Eagles at 7 p.m. Friday at Steele High School.
Laurie Hamame can be reached at 440-775-1611 or @HamameNews on Twitter.