While playoff hopes remain alive, the Amherst Comets (5-4) fell 35-7 to the Avon Eagles (9-0) Friday night in Southwestern Conference play.
Heading into week nine, the Comets were ranked eighth in Division II Region 6, narrowly ahead Avon Lake and Fremont Ross, with the top eight teams after week 10 qualifying for the postseason.
On Friday, Avon Lake fell to Olmsted Falls 21-20 but Fremont Ross defeated Clay 28-23.
Avon’s balanced attack and stout defensive front set the tone early on and never allowed Amherst to regain momentum.
On fourth-and-one during the game’s opening possession, Eagles quarterback Ryan Maloy put his team up 7-0 courtesy of a 29-yard run. On the ensuing defensive series, Avon defenders recovered an Amherst fumble and quickly capitalized in the form of a 23-yard Maloy pass to Chris Mullins for six more points.
“We made plenty of mistakes, especially in the first half, and they jumped on them,” said Amherst head coach Mike Passerrello. “We’re still sitting here with five wins and we have a shot to continue our season. We have one more game coming up right now and that’s what we can control.”
The Comets’ Matt Lee stuffed the run to finish off a goal-line stand toward the end of the first quarter, but two more Avon rushing scores created a 28-0 halftime lead.
For the game, star runner Khennedy Scagliozzo was held to 59 yards on 23 carries and Amherst accumulated just seven first downs and 113 yards of total offense.
After another Maloy-Mullins connection made the score 35-0 early in the third quarter, the Comets’ Greg Rhodes picked up an Avon fumble and returned it 55 yards for a touchdown with 3:11 remaining in the game to avoid the shutout.
“We need to be strong up front on both sides of the ball to get a win in a place like this,” said Rhodes. “We didn’t do that tonight. We’re going to come out hard next week because if we win and make the playoffs, we’ll probably be right back here playing Avon again.”
Amherst will travel to Westlake this week to finish up its regular season against the 0-9 Demons.
“We’re in year one of this program together,” said Passerrello. “Obviously, we have to learn from our experiences and learn from both our positives and negatives. All of us as coaches and players need to be willing to accept that if we want to be able to beat teams of this caliber like Avon.”
Jonathan Delozier can be reached at 440-647-3171 or @DelozierNews on Twitter.