Class 2A No. 5 Avonworth remains unbeaten with victory over East Allegheny

Friday, October 11, 2019 | 10:55 PM

The Class 2A Allegheny Conference game between No. 5 Avonworth and East Allegheny was expected to be competitive.

For most of two quarters, the game was exactly that.

But the Antelopes regrouped after an East Allegheny miscue in the second quarter to remain unbeaten with a 35-7 win.

In the middle of the second quarter, East Allegheny scored an apparent touchdown on a 4th-and-goal from the 6-yard line on a JD DiNapoli pass to Tyler Padezan. The Wildcats trailed 14-13, but the play was called back because of an ineligible-man-downfield penalty.

From there, it was all Avonworth (8-0, 5-0), which clinched a share of the conference championship.

“It was 14-7, and they were down inside and made that throw but the penalty brought it back,” Avonworth coach Duke Johncour said. “It is what it is. Our defense made a great stop, and then we were able to establish the line of scrimmage and run effectively.”

East Allegheny coach Dom Pecora has a different view of the penalty.

“They called a wide receiver downfield. Avonworth beat us. They were better than us. I don’t want to take anything away from that,” Pecora said. “But if that touchdown isn’t called back, it’s a completely different football game. The official took a quarter and a half away from our guys, and [Avonworth] may have run us out of gas anyways. They are massive up front, and they are, in my opinion, the best team in 2A.”

The Antelopes’ first eight-game win streak since 2011 came on the efforts of Jax Miller. The senior ran 35 times for 239 yards and four scores. He had touchdown runs of 1, 11, 11 and 14 yards, three of which came in the first half around East Allegheny’s only score, a 65-yard touchdown pass from DiNapoli to Padezan with 5 minutes, 46 seconds left in the first that tied the score 7-7.

Avonworth was playing without its two best receivers in Kyros Thorpe and Theo Newhouse, who missed the game with knee injuries.

“Jax delivered. He had a ton of carries,” Johncour said. “They weren’t easy yards because [East Allegheny] packed the box. That’s a good football team, and they played well.”

Park Penrod threw a 44-yard touchdown pass to Drew Harper to account for the other score for the Antelopes. Penrod was 12 for 18 for 155 yards, a touchdown and an interception.

For East Allegheny, DiNapoli was 10 of 20 for 128 yards, a score and three INTs.

“The turnovers were huge,” Johncour said. “The defense is playing great.”

A win for East Allegheny in one of its final two conference games or a Steel Valley loss in its final one will put the Wildcats in the WPIAL playoffs for a program-record fourth-consecutive season.

“It would mean a lot for what we’re trying to do with the program,” Pecora said. “To have a class and a player like Tyler [Padezan] become the first to make it all four years would be special. Next week is the game of the year.”

Avonworth will host unbeaten McGuffey next week in nonconference play, and the Wildcats host Shady Side Academy. Both games will kick off at 7 p.m.

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