Sat, Sep. 29, 2012
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LINDSBORG—After spending the first half shooting themselves in the foot, Avila's Eagles cleaned up their act in the second and pounded out a 35-19 non-conference win over Bethany at Anderson Field Saturday afternoon.
Five mis-plays in the first half thwarted the Eagles and the Swedes were able to take advantage enough to forge a 19-7 lead at one point, but for the most part, Avila's huge size advantage in the pits wore down the Swedes as the Eagles broke into the win column for the first time this season at 1-4.
Swede coach Jamie Cruce had warned that the Eagles were far better than the 0-4 mark they brought to town and he proved to be more than a soothsayer.
"Avila played well today and we played poorly," Cruce said. "If they hadn't shot themselves in the foot, they probably would have scored seven more touchdowns.
"We didn't tackle and we dropped the football when we tried to throw it. Our effort on defense was poor and I'm embarrassed for our alumni and fans—it was a poor effort today—but don't take anything away from Avila—they kicked our butt."
For the Eagles, the result helped take the sting out of an early season start that saw them drop their first two games by a touchdown each in which they had led in the final quarter.
"The first half was a repeat of what happened the first two weeks of the season," said Justin Berna, Avila coach, "and luckily we were able to come back from the turnovers and we had some great defensive play today.
"We finally got over the hump of not shooting ourselves in the foot in the second half—we didn't do it the whole game."
The five specific Avila mis-plays that enabled the Swedes to take a 19-14 lead at intermission, despite trailing in most offensive categories (273-199 in total yards), were a combination of penalties and turnovers.
On the game's second play Joe Scott picked a Darby House pass at the Swede 36, but an offside penalty nullified that.
Still, it was Avila that drew first blood when the Eagles drove their first possession 70 yards in seven plays. Harley Kreisman bulldozed his way to the counter with 10:18 showing for a 7-0 lead.
Bethany answered with a 55 yard drive, culminating in a 30 yard Kevin Retchless field goal.
A fumble on Avila next play set Bethany up at the 41 and eight plays later, Retchless was good from 40 yards out, trimming the Eagle lead to 7-6.
More good fortune came Bethany's way when Tayler Stull recovered an Avila fumble at the 16. From there the Swedes were able to come away with six as House hit James Johnson in the end zone for a touchdown. Retchless' PAT kick hit the right upright leaving the Swedes with a 12-7 advantage.
Avila pounded the ball right back down the field, but at the goal line, Kreisman fumbled the ball out of the end zone halting that drive.
A 61 yard Zack Waggoner punt changed the field position and a Cody Linnebur interception gave Bethany new life at the Eagle 33. In five plays Tevis Linnebur squirted in from the one to give Bethany a 19-7 bulge with 1:23 left before half.
An 88 yard kickoff return was nullified by a block in the back, but the Eagles were still able to march the length of the field for a touchdown with 4.7 seconds remaining on a five yard Jake Hicks pass to Colton Bourland.
Berna said he made no adjustments at intermission except of the "yell" variety. His team had five possessions during the last 30 minutes, scored three touchdowns, had one drive halted by Cody Peabody's interception in the end zone and the final, a kneel down at Bethany's 25.
In the second half, Avila pounded out a 310-144 advantage in total offense finishing with 357 on the ground. Kreisman led all rushers with 137 on only 14 carries and three more backs gained more than 60 yards each. Tevis Linnebur had 108 for Bethany on 24 tries.
In the passing department, Hicks, who at times had all day to find a receiver, was 23 of 34 for 226 while House was 18 of 39 for 214 and a pair of picks. However, as Cruce noted, his aerial game was also the victim of seven dropped balls.
The Swedes return to KCAC action next week when they travel to Leavenworth for a meeting with St. Mary. Avila returns to Heart of America Conference play when the Eagles meet Baker.