The execution wasn’t quite there in the first half.
In the second half, though, the Cuyahoga Valley Christian Academy football team put it all together in a 30-13 rout of Principals Athletic Conference rival Canal Fulton Northwest Oct. 4 in Royals Stadium.
CVCA improved to 5-1 overall and 3-0 in the PAC.
"We kind of shot ourselves in the foot in the first half. We should’ve had probably about 28 points at halftime," Royals head coach Dan Larlham said. "In the second half, we played the way we’re supposed to."
Turnovers were the name of the game for CVCA. The home team had none, while the Indians committed six.
"They couldn’t hold onto the ball all night," said Larlham. "We knew that Northwest was prone to giving the ball up, so I told the defense that they had to be ready to accept the ball when Northwest gave it up. And we were.
"We made picks, we recovered fumbles, we were in the right spot at the right time. Almost every turnover turned into points for us. We were really good about making Northwest pay for giving us the ball.
"We were also more physical on defense, and that’s what it’s all about. Our defense is coached by a very good coordinator, Eric Wilson."
On offense, according to Larlham, CVCA was dominant in the trenches.
"Six weeks in a row our offensive line has dominated the line of scrimmage," he said. "We’re just more physical up front. Also, we’re opportunistic in the pass game and our guys are making plays that the defense can’t stop."
After a scoreless first quarter against Northwest, CVCA took a 7-0 lead with 5:08 left in the second period when freshman running back Kyle Snider scored on a 14-yard touchdown run.
"It was right up the middle on our base run play, inside zone," said Larlham. "We’d been getting close all night, kind of knocking on the door, and we finally knocked it in."
Northwest pulled within 7-6 some two minutes later on a six-yard touchdown run by Collin Houser.
The Royals responded with a 15-yard touchdown run by senior running back Shane Douglas for a 14-6 CVCA halftime lead.
"It was another inside zone run play," the coach said. "The best part about that run was that it was after a turnover, a muffed punt, so it was really, really, really key timing for us."
About halfway through the third quarter, Royals sophomore free safety Brant Simmons intercepted a pass. That helped lead to Douglas’ two-yard touchdown run up the middle as the Royals upped their lead to 21-6.
"We put all our fat kids in, and we ran right behind all the fat kids," said Larlham. "It was awesome. That was huge for the momentum of the game."
About a minute-and-a-half later, CVCA extended its lead to 27-6 on a 35-yard touchdown pass from junior quarterback Mike Bevington to senior wide receiver Austen Williams.
"It was on a fourth-and-16 play," Larlham said. "We thought about punting the football, but Austen is really good and ‘Bev’ is really good, so those guys looked to me and said, ‘Coach, give us a shot,’ and we did. That was a really tough call for me, but Austen did what he was supposed to do and caught the ball."
On the first play of the fourth quarter, Houser’s two-yard touchdown run cut the CVCA lead to 27-13.
With 4:09 to go in the game, junior Bryce Kightlinger pretty much sealed the win for the Royals when he booted a 22-yard field goal for the game’s final points.
Douglas had 16 rushes for 67 yards, including a 20-yarder.
"Shane missed a couple cuts early that could’ve scored some more points, but he was good enough," said Larlham. "He’s a handful to handle for the entire game."
Bevington completed nine of 14 passes for 128 yards and ran the ball 22 times for 86 yards, including a 23-yard scamper.
"It doesn’t matter what I ask of Mike," the coach said. "He knows that his job is to put our offense in the best position possible every single play whether he throws the ball or runs it. He’s the best quarterback in the conference and the guy who makes our offense go."
Snider had 31 yards rushing on seven carries. Williams had four receptions for 88 yards.
"Austen is un-guardable at times," said Larlham. "He’s bigger, stronger and faster than anybody defenses try to put on him. We just have to find the right time, the right matchup, when we want to throw it deep.
"Sometimes Austen and Mike take shots on their own, without me calling it, when they think they got it. It worked out twice for us for about 50 yards combined against Northwest."
Leading the way for CVCA defensively was Jaxson Bernkopf, who had 13 tackles.
"Jaxson had to play as kind of a free safety some plays and as a defensive end some plays," Larlham said. "He’s one of the most versatile players we have. It’s really fun to watch a senior like him lead our defense because he does anything we need him to do really, really well."
Two other notable defenders were senior cornerback Peyton Beebe and senior inside linebacker Dave DiBlasi.
"Peyton didn’t have a lot of tackles, but he just did his job all night. He broke up a couple passes," said Larlham. "Dave forced a fumble and was in on multiple tackles for loss. We ran an odd front, and he was the fourth guy we sent, and we sent him in a variety of locations. He was more physical than anybody who Northwest had up front, and he started pushing guys around. That was fun to watch."
CVCA is scheduled to play at PAC rival Orrville Oct. 11 at 7 p.m. The Royals are set to host conference rival Massillon Tuslaw Oct. 18 at 7 p.m.