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AVON LAKE, OHIO – It was Homecoming at Avon Lake Memorial Stadium on a crisp but gorgeous fall evening. The Shoremen, clad in their grey and red Sunday best, saved for special occasions, welcomed the North Ridgeville Rangers and treated the excited crowd to a thrilling 35-21 victory and improved their unblemished record to 6-0.
Led by SR QB Jack Mikolich 12-23, 303 yards, 4 TD, 2 INT, the Shoremen took everything the pesky Rangers threw at them and stretched their lead in the SWC. The Shoremen know they are the hunted now and will be getting everyone’s best shot.
Tonight was no different.
The contest didn’t start out as planned for Avon Lake as, after holding the Rangers to a 3 and out in their first possession, Mikolich was picked off on the first Avon Lake play from scrimmage. The Shoremen dodged that bullet and kept the Rangers from capitalizing on the turnover.
Luke Fedders matched the Rangers interception with one of his own and two plays later hooked up with Mikolich on a beautifully thrown slant over the middle and raced 73 yards for the score, making it 7-0 Avon Lake.
The Shoremen quickly got the ball back and marched 71 yards on six plays capped off with a 7 yarder from Mikolich to Cole Schraff, his first of three touchdowns catches on the evening. The Shoremen led 14-0 after one and it looked like another display of domination was in the offing.
Not so fast.
North Ridgeville began to turn the momentum early in the second quarter when they blocked a punt in the end zone and LB Mason Grow picked it up at the 8 and walked into the end zone and quickly it was 14-7 Avon Lake.
They kept the momentum going when on the ensuing kickoff they recovered a perfect onside kick on the Shoremen 46 and in 8 plays they scored on a 3 yard Cade Riley run to tie the score at 14. The Ranger running game was gashing Avon Lake inside the tackles and what was once a rout in the making was totally the opposite.
Both teams traded punts and with :30 seconds left in the half, Avon Lake recovered a fumble at the Rangers 36 and what was the biggest play of the game, Mikolich found Schraff again with zeros on the clock on a 36 TD to give the Shoremen the 21-14 halftime lead.
The Rangers did what they wanted on the ground on the first half and it carried over to the second. Power football was wearing down the Shoremen and Riley and Shane Swindig kept the pressure on all night with big gains, first downs and controlling the clock. Both finished the night with big numbers, Riley 20 carries 129 yards and a score, and Swindig, 23 carries, 114 yards.
North Ridgeville held Avon Lake to a three and out to start the second half and in 3 plays went 80 yards capped of with a 67 yard flea flicker, Riley to WR Tyler Richmond tying the score at 21 all.
The third TD pass to Schraff and a 10 yard run from Mikolich, both in the 4th, capped off the scoring and keep the Shoremen unbeaten.
The unbeaten Shoremen travel next week for a big SWC battle with the 5-1 Amherst Comets while the 1-5 Rangers return home to face the Eagles of North Olmsted. Both games at 7pm October 5.
Tonight’s Player of the Game:
QB Jack Mikolich 12-23, 303 yards, 4 TD, 2 INT, 1 rushing TD.