By Justin Whitaker
AVON — As important as every game is in the Hoosier Crossroads Conference, last night’s contest between Avon and McCutcheon was especially meaningful to the Orioles.
Staring back at a 1-3 record the past month, including a 30-27 loss at Lafayette Jeff last week, Avon (5-3) needed a win and they got it from all facets against McCutcheon.
Quarterback Cole Johnson threw for three touchdowns and 141 yards, the Orioles’ defense limited the Mavericks to 70 total offensive yards and special teams blocked a punt, leading to a dominating 34-0 victory on a wet senior night.
“It was a very much needed team victory,” Avon coach Mark Bless said. “I don’t know if it’s a matter of playing back at home or finally just getting some of the kinks worked out, but a verify gratifying win for us tonight.”
Rebounding from last week’s loss to Lafayette Jeff was important to the team.
“We needed this win a lot because we wanted to show teams that we can actually play to our potential because I feel like at Lafayette Jeff we really didn’t play to our potential,” senior linebacker Brian Stinnett said.
With a starting kickoff temperature of 45 degrees, wind gusts and steady, heavy rain hammering the two teams and fans, both squads combined for nine fumbles and muffs with only one recovered by the opposing team.
But the wet conditions are what helped open up the game for the Orioles.
After a scoreless first quarter with only one completed pass by Avon, Bless decided to unleash the passing game.
Johnson found tight end Sam Bloom on a 45-yard play action touchdown pass with 9:22 remaining in first half and led 6-0 after a botched PAT.
On Avon’s next possession, Johnson connected with Jalen Edwards for a 58-yard touchdown.
Then to make it three straight Johnson throws for a touchdown, the senior threw his second touchdown of the night to Bloom on a 19-yard pass.
“It’s pouring down rain and we had the wind so we decided we were going to throw a little bit more,” Bless said. “Cole threw the ball very nicely in the rain and Sam Bloom made some big plays for us.”
The defense also held up its end of the bargain, limiting McCutcheon to six first downs as half of those came from Avon penalties. Under Armour All-American Elijah Daniel had 2.5 sacks.
“Defense gave constant pressure,” Bless said. “We stuffed the run pretty well, we definitely forced some pressure on the quarterback and it was a good defensive effort by everyone on the field.”
The Orioles led 20-0 at halftime before Cody Baker and Anthony Greene added touchdown runs in the second half. Avon’s Nick Handlon blocked punt set up Baker’s two-yard touchdown.