FISHERS – Hamilton Southeastern defensive lineman Collin Miller saw he had a chance to make a play Friday night. Then he made it – perhaps the biggest play of the evening.
With the game tied at 18 with less than 40 seconds remaining, standout Avon quarterback Brandon Peters was sacked from behind and lost the ball. Miller chased the loose ball down, recovering it at the Orioles’ 21-yard line, setting up teammate Noah Haxton’s 37-yard field with 12 seconds left that gave Class 6A No. 12 HSE a 21-18 win over No. 7 Avon in the Hoosier Crossroads Conference opener for both teams.
“My eyes lit, up, I remember that,” said Miller, who also had a sack. “I saw that ball start bouncing around … once we got it, I had trust in my kicker he could put it in.”
The heroics of Miller and Haxton followed a two-hour lightning delay before the game and then a gutty 80-yard touchdown drive by the Royals that started with 6:06 remaining. Quarterback Carter Poiry hit all five of his passes on the drive for 51 yards, including an 8-yarder in the back of the end zone with :44 left that brought the Royals within 18-16.
On the ensuing two-point attempt, Poiry cut up the middle and bulled his way into the end zone to knot the score.
“Just fight on: That’s our motto all year,” said Poiry, who hit on 18-of-35 passes for 227 yards and two TDs. “We got our team together, and we knew we had to get that two-point conversion. I had to get it done, and that’s what happened.”
After the field goal, the Orioles moved to the HSE 43 on two defensive penalties. On the final play of the game, Peters was hit as he threw, and the ball landed in an offensive lineman’s hands to end the game.
Avon (1-2) came into the game averaging 41.5 points and 476 yards per game but was held to 202 total yards by the Royals. The Michigan-bound Peters, who’d thrown for 637 yards and nine scores entering Friday, was 11-of-26 for 157 yards and a touchdown, while getting sacked three times and pressured on multiple other occasions.
“All week we’ve been studying (Peters),” Miller said. “We knew we had to give him some rush off the end. Once we did that, I knew we’d be all right.”
HSE took a 7-3 halftime lead when Poiry hit running back Aaron Matio in stride down the middle of the field at the Avon 10. Matio made an over-the-shoulder catch while covered and took the ball into the end zone with 70 seconds left in the half.
The Royals pushed the lead to 10-3 in the third quarter, but Avon came back to score on back-to-back possessions to take an eight-point lead. Corey DuPriest – who ran for 59 of his 60 yards in the second half, scored from two yards out with 1:33 left in the third to tie the game.
Avon then smoothly moved 74 yards on its next series, capping the drive with a 2-yard TD pass from Peters to Matt Moore. On the extra-point try, the ball came loose on the snap, and Andrew Griffin alertly picked it up and ran around the right side for the two-conversion, giving his team an 18-10 lead and setting up HSE’s late-game heroics.
AHS — Sam Pirino 38 field goal
HSE — Aaron Matio 47 pass from Carter Poiry (Stephen McLeish kick)
HSE — Noah Haxton 28 field goal
AHS — Corey DuPriest 2 run (Pirino kick)
AHS — Matt Moore 2 pass from Brandon Peters (Andrew Griffin run)
HSE — Matt Klink 5 pass from Poiry (Poiry run)
HSE — Haxton 37 field goal
Team Stats; Avon; HSE
First Downs; 12; 13
Total Yards; 202; 287
Rushes-Yards; 25-45; 33-60
Passing Yards; 157; 227
Comp-Att-Int; 11-26-0; 18-35-1
Fumbles-Lost; 5-3; 2-0
Penalties-Yards; 2-18; 7-75
Punts-Avg.; 5-36.2; 5-32.6
Rushing — Avon: DuPriest 16-60, Bryant Fitzgerald 3-8, team 1-(-9), Peters 5-(-14). Hamilton Southeastern: David Tsetse 15-64, Matio 5-5, Carter Lohman 1-4, Curtis Goss 1-1, team 1-(-1), Poiry 10-(-13).
Passing — Avon: Peters 11-26-0 157. Hamilton Southeastern: Poiry 18-35-0 227.
Receiving — Avon: Moore 6-64, Griffin 2-45, DuPriest 1-27, Drew Pankey-Wallace 1-15, Jordan Peterson 1-6. Hamilton Southeastern: Greg Miller 7-91, Matio 6-87, Klink 3-36, Will Coudret 1-14, Max Brooks 1-4.