With his team trailing 24-17 entering the fourth quarter Friday in a home game against visiting Revere, head coach Dan Larlham had a message for his Cuyahoga Valley Christian Academy football team.
"I told them, ‘This is why we work and why we do all of the summer workouts,’" he said. "And our guys responded well."
The Royals hung up 21 points in the fourth quarter and defeated the Minutemen 38-24. CVCA improved to 2-1 on the season.
First, CVCA junior quarterback Mike Bevington completed a 3-yard touchdown pass to senior wide receiver Austen Williams to tie the score 24-24 with 7:59 remaining. The scoring play was set up by Bevington’s 65-yard pass to senior wide receiver Lucas Nowielski.
"It was fourth-and-goal on the touchdown play," Larlham said. "That was a vital play in the game. When we needed a play, we got it."
Just less than three minutes later, Bevington and Williams connected again, this time on a 23-yard scoring strike down the right sideline that put the Royals ahead 31-24.
"Mike threw the ball up in the air, and we trusted Austen to go up and get it," said Larlham. "Both were our-guys-better-than-their-guys type throws. Those were Austen’s first two touchdowns of his varsity career."
CVCA put the game on ice when senior running back Shane Douglas had a 1-yard touchdown run up the middle with less than a minute left.
"Our guys just put it all together in that fourth quarter. It was really impressive. We finished extremely well," said Larlham. "We shouldn’t have won the game. It was all going against us until we decided that we wanted to win. So we did, and I’m really proud of our guys."
CVCA went right to work on the opening drive of the game. The 70-yard march concluded with a 48-yard flea-flicker touchdown pass from Bevington to sophomore wide receiver Noah Atwood, which gave the home team a 7-0 lead.
"Mike handed the ball off to Shane, who turned around and flipped it back to Mike," the coach said. "The cornerback fell down because he thought he saw run because we gave it to Shane first. Noah was all by himself in the end zone for his first varsity touchdown. Almost all of the 48 yards were through the air. It worked exactly like it was supposed to. Noah is a good ballplayer, and we’ve got to get the ball in his hands more often."
Later in the first quarter, Revere tied the score 7-7 on a 1-yard touchdown run.
A 29-yard field goal by junior Bryce Kightlinger in the second quarter put CVCA back on top 10-7 at halftime.
"Bryce was phenomenal on that field goal and on extra points," said Larlham. "His kickoffs were perfect. We had him spray the ball all over the field."
The Minutemen forged back ahead 14-10 in the third quarter on an 81-yard touchdown pass. They upped their lead to 17-10 later in the quarter on a 27-yard field goal.
Little more than two minutes later, freshman running back Kyle Snider scored from a yard out as CVCA tied the score at 17. The touchdown run was partially set up by Bevington’s 65-yard run.
With little more than a minute to go in the third quarter, Revere went back ahead 24-17 on a 58-yard touchdown pass.
From that point on, though, it was all CVCA.
"On offense, we finally started throwing the ball. I finally started calling passes," said Larlham. "I hadn’t felt incredibly comfortable throwing the ball around the previous couple of weeks, but in this game we hit some passes early, and that gave me a little more confidence. It’s going to help us for the rest of the season.
"As it should be each week, our offense was the most physical unit on the field, and our offensive line gets a lot of credit for what we did in this game."
Bevington had quite an evening for himself. He completed 11 of 15 passes for 242 yards and ran the ball 18 times for 107 yards.
"Mike is the toughest kid on the field. He’s the guy I want next to me in a street fight," Larlham said. "He and I are on the same page, which is really good as an offensive coordinator. Knowing that I can trust him and that he can trust me, that gets our offense in the right spot most of the time. He was the best player on the field all night long."
Williams had six receptions for 111 yards.
"We needed Austen to be bigger, faster and stronger, and he was," said the coach. "You have to win games with great players and great performances. Earlier in the week, Austen and I had a conversation about what we need from him, and he showed up and did a great job. It was vital for our win."
Douglas had 43 yards rushing on 13 carries.
"Shane is reliable. He’s going to give us exactly what we need to get," Larlham said. "Near the end of the game, when a good team has to kind of salt it away, we knew that he would be there, and he was. We gave the ball to him when we needed the win."
According to Larlham, defensively his team righted some early miscues.
"There were a couple key breakdowns that we just can’t have that led to some easy scores for Revere," he said. "We fixed the easy things and made Revere work for everything they got the rest of the night, and obviously it showed up on the scoreboard.
"Snider, who also played inside linebacker, and senior outside linebacker Andre Price were probably our best defensive performers."
CVCA is scheduled to open Principals Athletic Conference play by hosting Wooster Triway Friday at 7 p.m.
The Royals are set to travel to PAC rival Navarre Fairless Sept. 27 at 7 p.m.