HHS: Ava pulled away after halftime

But the Ava offense got going in the second half.

The Bears (6-0, 4-0 South Central Association) scored 56 seconds into the third quarter for the first of four second-half scores.

“Without several key guys, I thought in the first half we played very well,” Sloan said. “We started to wear down in the second half and it got out of hand a little bit.”

Without Dixon –– who has rotated between quarterback and running back –– as well as starting lineman Dawson Koch, the Tigers struggled offensively. They managed just 1.6 per play and were out-gained 409-68.

HHS senior Gavin Alston led the team with seven carries for 36 yards. Quarterback Dakota Burchett was 5-of-13 passing for 24 yards and an interception.

Ava quarterback Caleb Johnson completed 3 of 6 passes for 136 yards and a pair of touchdowns. Conner Moran led the Bears with nine carries for 98 yards.

Sloan is hopeful Dixon, who injured his knee in practice the previous day, will return for Friday’s game at Willow Springs. Koch was set for further evaluation this week on his knee. Lane Revelle, a starting defensive lineman, missed the game with a concussion and is not expected to return soon.

“We’re pretty young in several spots,” Sloan said. “We continue to see more freshmen out there. That’s great for the future, but it’s tough when you play the fourth-ranked team.”

Ava took an early advantage when Johnson hit Stephen Copeland streaking down the middle of the field for a 42-yard score midway through the first half.

The HHS defense, with two freshmen starters, forced punts on the Bears’ next two possessions before Moran raced 31 yards for a score early in the second.

The Tigers ended the half by forcing Ava to punt for a third time.

“We were pretty stingy up front and rallied to the ball,” Sloan said.

Johnson ignited the second-half spurt by returning the kickoff 77 yards to the Houston 12-yard line. Quincey McDonald scored two plays later as Ava went ahead 20-0.

The Bears’ defense forced a safety and got an 84-yard pass from Johnson to Joey Swofford to lead 28-0 entering the fourth quarter.

Houston had one possession on Ava’s side of the field –– a recovered fumble on the 38yard line that went backwards with a 15-yard penalty and ended with a punt.

“We are banged up at the skill positions,” Sloan said. “That’s tough when you are constantly rotating guys and have young guys who are playing positions they typically don’t.”

“We’ll continue to work on us.”

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