ZIONSVILLE — Heading into the state tournament the Zionsville Eagles may have played their best half of defense during Friday night’s senior night match up with the Avon Orioles. The Eagles gave up only one first down and 26 yards in the first half, seven of which came on the half’s final play. The 28-7 lead at the break allowed Zionsville to cruise to a 31-23 victory on the final night of the regular season.
“We made every mistake possible,” Avon coach Mark Bless said. “We had delayed snaps. We had fumbles, and offensively we just put our defense in a bind. When you can’t get a first down and move the chains it just gives them good field position.”
Zionsville (7-2) turned the ball over on downs on its first possession, but they pinned the Orioles (5-4) deep in their own territory. A three-and-out meant Zionsville started its second drive on the Avon 43.
The short field was enough as Zionsville moved 43 yards in five plays and went ahead 7-0 when John Naumcheff caught an 8-yard fade route from Parker Dunshee for a touchdown. The lead was short-lived, however, as Avon executed a perfect reverse on the ensuing kickoff and Devyn Mikell went 96 yards for the tying touchdown.
A big second quarter allowed Zionsville to build its advantage to 28-7 thanks to three touchdowns within a 10 minute span. Steven Wisnewski twice topped drives with short touchdown runs, while Avon’s biggest play of the half, a 15-yard pass to Jalen Edwards was fumbled to Zionsville at the Orioles’ 46-yard line.
Scott Penola, who carried the ball six times for 29 yards, capped Zionsville’s ensuing drive after the fumble with a 6-yard TD run 25 seconds before halftime to make it 28-7.
“That was just an outstanding half,” Zionsville coach Larry McWhorter said. “We had a couple of big plays and the turnover on the screen pass set up our last touchdown and kept them from getting the momentum and it turned out to be really important.”