Apollo-Ridge can’t slow down Avonworth as Antelopes remain undefeated

Friday, September 20, 2019 | 11:15 PM

Something had to give Friday night as Avonworth and Apollo-Ridge met in a battle of Allegheny Conference unbeatens at Avonworth’s Lenzner Field.

Behind a rushing attack that totaled 271 yards and five touchdowns, the Antelopes kept their unblemished record alive with a 42-14 win.

“We came into the game knowing that (Apollo-Ridge) would be a tough team to play,” said Kyros Thorpe, who carried the ball just six times but totaled 119 yards and three touchdowns. “We prepared well in practice this week and knew we had to come out and execute early, and we did.

“I give a lot of credit to the offensive line. They really opened holes for the running backs. They played a great game.”

Avonworth, No. 5 in this week’s Trib HSSN Class 2A rankings, upped its record to 5-0 overall and 3-0 in conference play. It is one-half game ahead of Shady Side Academy for the top spot in the standings.

Shady Side suffered a 54-14 nonconference loss to Neshannock on Friday.

“Our kids came out and established the line of scrimmage well. Our running backs ran hard, and we blocked well,” Avonworth coach Duke Johncour said. “That was a good win in that regard. We can throw the ball, and we can run the ball. What are you going to defend?”

The Antelopes scored touchdowns on three of their four possessions in the first quarter and led 28-7 at halftime.

Avonworth added to its lead early the third quarter as Thorpe carried one final time for a 10-yard touchdown. Tyler Bryan added his fourth point-after kick to make it 35-7 with 4 minutes, 31 seconds elapsed.

It turned into the Ian Syam show in the second half as the sophomore collected all 15 of his carries for a team-best 124 yards. His 1-yard run at the 5:32 mark of the third and a Bryan extra point extended the Antelopes’ advantage to 42-7 and put the mercy rule into effect.

“They did basically whatever they wanted to do on the ground because they controlled the line of scrimmage, and we didn’t do a very good job of that,” said Apollo-Ridge coach John Skiba, who saw his team fall to 4-1 overall and 2-1 in the conference.

“They also did some things we weren’t ready for. They can also throw the ball all over the field. They have so many good athletes. They had a nice gameplan, and they executed it well and beat us.”

Thorpe had just two carries for 3 yards coming into the season. His damage had been done in the passing game with 267 yards and four touchdowns.

“I had been getting receptions at slot receiver, and this week, we added a new formation to put two guys in the backfield and run behind the O-line,” Thorpe said. “We knew we wanted to run a lot this game.”

Jax Miller, who came in with 73 carries for 562 yards and four touchdowns, registered two carries Friday for 27 yards, but one of the carries went for a 24-yard touchdown in the first quarter.

Park Penrod added a 25-yard scoring pass to Trevor Faulkner, also in the opening quarter. Penrod finished 5 of 10 for 55 yards.

Both of Apollo-Ridge’s touchdowns — one in the second quarter and one in the waning seconds of the third — came on scoring strikes from Jake Fello to Klay Fitzroy. The TDs covered 34 and 20 yards.

Fello finished 9 of 15 passing for 144 yards, and Fitzroy caught six balls for 95 yards.

The Vikings had a chance to close the gap to two scores late in the first half as they drove the ball for nearly six minutes from their own 24 to inside the Avonworth 10.

But the Antelopes defense stiffened and forced a turnover on downs at the 5 with 9 seconds to go until the break.

The Apollo-Ridge running game, which came in averaging 215.8 yards a game, was limited to 118. Logan Harmon led the way with 52 bruising yards on 13 carries, well under his 137.8 average.

Check out an archived broadcast of this game on the TribLive High School Sports Network.

Michael Love is a Tribune-Review Staff Writer. You can contact Michael by email at mlove@triblive.com or via Twitter .

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