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HS Playoff Football: Avon’s Walk-Off Field Goal Sends Them to 4th Straight State Semis in 20-17 Win Over Avon Lake

AVON, OHIO – With :02 remaining in regulation, the Avon Eagles found themselves tied 17-17 against Avon Lake, and a 30-yard field goal from their fourth consecutive state semifinal appearance in the Division II, Region 6.

The pressure was on kicker Nathanial Vakos to either make it to win the game, or miss it to send the game into overtime. In thrilling fashion, Vakos nailed the field to win 20-17 in walk-off fashion to advance and send their rivals home.

“When I lined up, I knew (Avon Lake) was going to ice me,” Vakos said.

“I was staying calm. It wasn’t the longest kick. So, I tried to stay calm. (The referees) called us up. My team was gassing me up. I went out there and took my steps. Stay true, went through, got the win.”

“[Vakos] is the best kicker in the state of Ohio,” Eagles’ coach Mike Elder said after the win.”

“He’s gonna kick on big-time college football someday and we practice that situation a lot when we use the timeout and ice him.”

This marks the second win for the Avon Eagles (10-0, 6-0 in the Southwestern Conference) against Avon Lake (8-2, 5-1 in SWC) that resulted in a walk-off as it happened in their Week 1 matchup of 2020 which was a touchdown in double-overtime.

The Eagles started off with a 86-yard touchdown pass from quarterback Niko Pappas to emerging wide receiver Tim Conwell mid-first quarter.

After the touchdown pass, Avon struggled to move the ball on the Shoremen’s defense.

Avon Lake took advantage in the end of the first quarter and beginning of the second with two touchdowns.

Shoremen’s quarterback Michael Corbo snuck his way into the endzone as he was ruled across the goal line before a defender popped the ball loose.

Avon Lake forced a three-and-out and utilized their running game to score their second with a 10-yard rushing touchdown from running back Gage Duesler.

The Eagles got their offense back on track by using their hurry-up tempo, which resulted in a huge fourth down conversion on a 4th-and-6 that was inches away from a turnover on downs.

The conversion set up a 35-yard rushing touchdown for Pappas two plays later to give him one in the air and one on the ground and Avon the 14-14 tie as it went into halftime.

The defenses for both teams kicked into gear in the second half as no team scored a touchdown as the third quarter went scoreless.

The closest both teams came to a touchdown was a Shoremen pass from Corbo to wide receiver Jared Krukowski that was ruled not a touchdown as they trailed 17-14 halfway into the fourth quarter.

“I was right there on the sideline [for that play],” Avon Lake’s coach Matt Kostelnik said.

“I always tell the players that you have to control the uncontrollables. I thought he had the [touchdown] too, but it is what it is.”

The drive resulted in a 23-yard field goal to tie the score at 17-17 before Vakos’ heroics.

Avon advances to their fourth-straight Division II State Semifinal and will face Division II juggernaut Archbishop Hoban (ranked 20th nationally on MaxPreps).

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