SEFFNER — Noah Johnson rushed for two touchdowns and Trevor Laurent returned an onside kick for a touchdown as Armwood defeated Venice 31-19 in Friday’s Class 6A region quarterfinals.
Armwood (11-0) will host Jefferson (10-1) in the second round.
Coach Sean Callahan said Venice was going to be a tough first-round draw, and the Indians proved him right when they went into halftime with a 10-7 lead.
“I felt like Venice was a district-champion quality opponent,” Callahan said. “And the type of opponent we haven’t seen on the schedule since we played Jefferson earlier in the season.”
Armwood’s defense was strong for the most part and keyed in on Venice’s 1,800-yard rusher, Terry Polk, holding him to just 87 yards on 11 carries, most of which came on a 59-yard touchdown run in the first quarter.
Trailing 10-7 in the third, Armwood’s offense came alive with Laurent making an impressive catch and run for 29 yards on a third and 9, and scoring two plays later from 5 yards out to give the Hawks a 14-10 lead.
After Venice forced Armwood to punt on its next drive, Sterling Hofrichter’s punt bounced off the helmet of Venice receiver Nathan Lamp. Armwood recovered the live ball at the Venice 3 and Johnson scored on the next play.
After both teams traded field goals, Venice took to the air as quarterback Dom Marino drove the Indians 80 yards on four completions, with a 25-yarder to Tyler McKenzie providing the touchdown that pulled the Indians to 24-19.
On the expected onside kick it appeared Venice did a good job of execution but Laurent darted out of a pile of players and ran 53 yards to the end zone to close out the scoring.
“Trevor is a special player and the fact is we can never get him the ball enough,” Callahan added. “And that goes for most of the playmakers on this offense. All of them do great things with the football.”
Johnson rushed for 117 yards on 15 carries and threw for 121 yards. Marino threw for 262 yards and a touchdown.