By Jake Thompson
TERRE HAUTE — Avon kicker Nyles Edwards had been in this situation before during Week 1 action against Hamilton Southeastern.
Edwards booted a 25-yard field goal to give Avon a 17-14 win over the Royals with six seconds remaining after HSE called a timeout to ice him.
Last night’s 43-yard game-winning field goal came as time was winding down and the unit had rushed onto the field after a sack on the ensuing play. Edwards kicked his longest field goal of the season through the uprights as time expired, keeping Avon’s postseason alive with a 16-14 stunner over the Terre Haute North Patriots.
“It let me know I had done it before and I believed in myself and knew I could do it again,” Edwards said of his Week 1 kick. “I thought it was going to be an easy chip shot and then it turned out to be my longest field goal of the year. I was like ‘I just got to go out there and hit it solid and it will go in.’”
As the collective crowd on both sides held their breath, Edwards’ kick went up high and cleared the crossbar with a few yards to spare.
Avon coach Mark Bless praised his team afterwards, talking to the Orioles about practicing a situation that came to fruition in the most important game of their season.
However, after a botched PAT on Avon’s second touchdown of the night, having everyone shake off that attempt and refocus when the contest was on the line was satisfying for Bless.
“It was nice that unit and Nyles had the chance to hit the game-winner,” Bless said. “We practice that every Thursday and count them down and they know where to get lined up.”
After a scoreless first quarter, Avon’s Derrick Tennant capped off an 11-play, 55-yard drive with a 3-yard touchdown run with 3:35 left in the first half.
Aided by two Avon penalties on their drive, the Patriots answered just before the half with a 21-yard pass from Chris Barrett II to Calvin Blank.
Several unusual plays marked the first two quarters.
Blank fumbled the ball through the back of the end zone in the first quarter. Two plays previous, Patriots’ back Richard Brookins fumbled the ball into the end zone and recovered for an apparent score, but it was brought back on a hold.
On the Patriots’ scoring drive before the half, Avon was flagged for a roughing the kicker following a lateral from the personal protector before attempting the punt. That flag, along with a previous pass interference call, helped Terre Haute North down the field and it was knotted up at 7-7 going into the half.
Like the first quarter, neither team scored in the third, setting up a wild finish in the fourth.
With 11:37 remaining in the fourth, Avon scored as Cole Johnson took the ball in from 1-yard out, but a botched PAT on what looked to be a troubled hold off the snap resulted in the missed attempt.
Leading 13-7, Avon’s defense gave up a 70-yard drive to the Patriots that culminated in a 21-yard strike from Barrett to Austin Lewis. Terre Haute then led 14-13 with 7:51 remaining.
After an Avon punt, the Patriots drove to Avon’s 34 and elected to go on fourth-and-8. The pass from Barrett failed and Avon took over.
The Orioles then drove the length of the field, setting up the game-winning field goal.
“There were just so many outstanding performances by so many different people,” Bless said. “The defense played their tail end off. We had several guys step up and make plays and I felt that way about our offense. We utilized everybody tonight.”
Avon hosts Pike at 7 p.m. this Friday in a rematch of two years ago when the Orioles won 30-27 and advanced to the regional round.