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The Bears spotted Strafford 14 points in the first quarter and it looked like it might be a long night for the home team. But the Bears answered with two touchdowns in the second quarter to take the Indians to a 14-14 halftime score.
Each team would score twice in the second half, resulting in a 28-all deadlock at the end of regulation and forcing an overtime period.
The Bears got the ball first in overtime and went the necessary 25 yards to score on a 7-yard keeper by quarterback Garrett Baird who dived in with the ball extended across the goal line.
Senior Brock Mitchell, who was perfect on five attempts, nailed the extra point to put the pressure on the opposing Strafford team.
Strafford started overtime with a procedure penalty, but got the five yards back when Ava committed a dead ball foul.
James Grass got the ball to the Ava 19-yard line, then lost a yard to put the Indians in a 3rd-down-and-5 situation at the 20-yard line. Quarterback Dylan Barnum threw an incomplete pass into the end zone to bring up 4th-and-5 at the 20, and on the last play of the game threw a pass that was picked off by Allen.
Ava racked up a total of 418 yards of offense, including 264 yards rushing and 154 passing.
Grass scored Strafford’s first touchdown on a 1-yard run at the 5:53 point in the first quarter. Cody Leamy, who was also perfect on the night, booted the extra point.
Strafford scored again in the first quarter on an 8-yard pass play from Barnum to Brandon Foley with under a minute left in the period.
Sophomore Kyle Clinkingbeard, who carried 15 times for 48 yards, scored Ava’s first touchdown at 9:58 in the second quarter on a 5-yard run, and Mitchell’s kick trimmed the Strafford lead to 7.
With 49 seconds left in the first half, Coach Dan Swofford surprised the Strafford defense by calling for the halfback pass play, and Taylor Coonts was right on the mark to Allen for a 23-yard touchdown pass.
Ava took a 21-14 lead in the third quarter when quarterback Baird, completed a pass to Allen for a 44-yard touchdown play. Allen caught the ball under heavy pressure from two Strafford defenders, then broke away to sprint to the end zone untouched.
Barnum completed a 5-yard touchdown pass to Michael Burks early in the fourth quarter to tie the game once again, then with 7:14 left in regulation Ava’s Coonts, who carried 23 times for 140 yards, found his way into the end zone for a 3-yard touchdown to put the Bears back up, 28-21.
Strafford refused to give up, however, and with just over 3 minutes left, Grass scored from 12 yards out and Leamy tied the game with the point-after.
Coonts, an Ava senior, was not only Ava’s leading rusher of the night, but was also the leading tackler for the Ava defense with 10. Junior Dillon Adams had nine tackles for the Bears.
Allen caught four passes for 101 yards, and senior Pete Leonard had three catches for 53 yards. Leonard also gave the Bears a couple of loss-yard tackles on defense, as did senior Austin Clayton.
This week the Bears will travel to Willow Springs to open South Central Association play.
Coach Swofford says Willow Springs is the best they have been in several years, with both size and speed.
Although the Ava Bears played well last week and pulled out the win in overtime, Swofford said his team had a lot of things to work on this week in getting ready for the Willow Springs Bears on Friday night.
Willow Springs is also coming off a non-conference win over Reeds Spring last Friday night.
Ava’s 9th grade and junior varsity will be at home Monday, Sept. 6 against Salem. Games are scheduled to begin at 4:30.