CUYAHOGA FALLS — After two straight losses, Cuyahoga Valley Christian Academy football needed to snap out of it if it wished to keep its hopes for the season alive.
The Royals decided to two things: Script its offense to start the game and give more touches to All-Ohioan Tre Tucker.
It worked like a charm.
Tucker erupted for five rushing touchdowns, leading the Royals to 47-28 home win over Loudonville Friday at Royals Stadium. CVCA improved to 5-3, 3-2 in the Principals’ Athletic Conference with the win.
Against Loundonville’s run-oriented offense, CVCA coach Dan Larlham said it was vital to get off to quick start.
"We started scripting plays on offense this week to make sure we were starting well," Larlham said. "I think we did exactly what we needed to do. We got some big plays. I think we got through the first six of our eight plays and three of them went for touchdowns.
"I think the score tonight reflects what we wanted to do," Larlham said. "They’re a very good football, but their offense isn’t designed to put up 40 points a night."
Indeed, Loudonville had lots of success running the football from a multiple-formation offense, which included the old-school three-man T formation. The problem for the Redbirds was, by the time they got going, CVCA was nearly out of sight.
The first seven minutes of the first quarter couldn’t have gone better for the Royals. On the opening drive, quarterback Michael Bevington hit Tucker for a 49-yard seam rout. That would set up running back Jordan Decatur to score on an 11-yard touchdown run just 29 seconds into the game.
Coming back from a high ankle sprain, Decatur was the workhouse for the Royal rushing game, running for 83 yards on 17 carries.
Tucker said having his cousin back in the lineup was a huge boost.
"That’s 120 percent of the success I’ve been having," Tucker said. "I hate to put it this way, but when Jordan and I play, you’ve got to choose who to stop."
Loudonville didn’t have much luck stopping Tucker all night. He would break loose for a 52-yard touchdown run with 9:20 left in the first quarter.
After CVCA’s defense stops Loudonville on forth down, Tucker ran a play from the Wildcat formation and took it 72 yards for a score.
"I sure am a smart coach because I give him the ball," Larlham joked. "Tre is just amazing. We’ve got a spread offense, so we try to spread the ball out at times. Having Jordan back, we use Tre as a decoy at times."
"He’s the [offensive coordinator], so I know he’s going to set us up," Tucker said of Larlham. "I’m not really worried about my touches if we’re successful."
Tucker made the most of his touches Friday, as he finished with 11 carries for 240 yards and five touchdowns. He also caught three passes for 71 yards.
CVCA’s defense had a solid first quarter as well, as the Royals stopped the Redbirds on fourth-and-one at the 8. That led to a 92-yard drive which featured Decatur running ball, but Tucker capped it with a 3-yard touchdown run with 6:33 left in the first half.
To its credit, Loudonville didn’t fold when it was down 28-0. The Redbirds got on the board with 1-yard touchdown plunge from running back Brice Swindall with 1:52 left in the first half.
After the second half, the Redbirds then marched down the field again, this time scoring on a 1-yard touchdown run from Alec Eldridge with 7:33 left in third quarter. Tucker blocked the extra point, leaving it at 28-13.
Following a short kickoff, CVCA would answer with a 11-yard run from Tucker.
Loudonville then showed off its big play ability, as Swindall took a jet sweep to the right and ran it 72 yards for a touchdown. Swindall led the Redbirds with 20 carries for 209 yards.
CVCA answered again, this time through the air. On the first play of the fourth quarter, Bevington found Josh Junko in the corner of the end zone for a 16-yard touchdown.
Bevington had a decent night throwing and running, as he went 8-of-12 for 119 yards passing and touchdown, while rushing 8 times for 67 yards.
Loudonville kept coming, as quarterback Dylan Polen turned a would-be sack into a 17-yard touchdown run with 5:49 to cut the lead to 40-28.
However, Tucker erased all doubt, as he took another run from the Wildcat formation 45 yards for a touchdown for his fifth score of the night with 3:38 left in the game.
CVCA will play its final road game of the season next Friday at 7 p.m. at Wooster Triway. Larlham said, after dealing with the Redbirds’ running game, his team had to be prepared for an aerial attack from the Titans.
"I think that actually works better with our defense, but we’re going to have to be ready," he said.
CVCA will host Akron Manchester Oct. 26 at 7 p.m. for the regular season finale.
Reporter Michael Leonard can be reached at 330-541-9442, email@example.com or @MLeonard_RPC