The Cuyahoga Falls football team hung tough with Suburban League National Conference rival – and defending conference champ – Wadsworth for one quarter Oct. 11 on Alumni Night at Cuyahoga Falls.
In fact, the Black Tigers were thinking upset when they held a 2-0 lead after one quarter because of a ball snapped out of the Grizzlies end zone.
"The way our kids were playing, I thought we had a shot of winning the game," Cuyahoga Falls head coach Shane Parker said. "We played ball control that first quarter, and our offense was executing pretty well."
The Black Tigers wound up losing 33-2 to drop to 2-5 overall and 0-4 in the National Conference.
The home team took the opening kickoff and marched the ball right down the field.
"We went for it on fourth-and-goal," said Parker. "Our tight end was wide open, the ball hit him right in the hands, but he just dropped it.
"On the ensuing possession, we got the safety. After the free kick, we went on another pretty decent drive, chewed a lot of clock, but we just weren’t able to capitalize."
Whenever the Cuyahoga Falls offense drove into Wadsworth territory the rest of the night, the drives stalled. The Black Tigers had no turnovers and were only penalized twice. They just failed to turn those drives into points.
"There were just a couple little miscues we have to clean up that would’ve led to points on several of our drives," a frustrated Parker said.
Defensively, the coach felt his team had a decent performance.
"I thought we did a fairly good job of bottling up Wadsworth’s offense considering as many snaps as our guys were taking.
"We did well on special teams, too."
According to Parker, Wadsworth is top notch.
"They’re a solid team and a solid program, and I think they have double our numbers in terms of guys on the team," said Parker. "Our guys played their tails off, and we battled them really hard. In the second half our lack of depth caught up with us. Our guys gave it everything they had, so I couldn’t be more proud of them for that."
Wadsworth forged ahead 7-2 in the second quarter when Maverick Blackburn completed a 30-yard touchdown pass to Barret Labus.
The Grizzlies upped their lead to 20-2 at halftime on one- and 37-yard touchdown runs by Dominic Loparo.
In the third quarter, Blackburn threw a 15-yard touchdown pass to Ethan Korecky to extend the Wadsworth lead to 27-2. Josh Bach’s seven-yard touchdown run later in the quarter were the game’s final points.
Cuyahoga Falls senior running back Rob Graves rushed the ball 25 times for 115 well-earned yards.
"Rob had another solid night," said Parker. "Between him and the offensive line, we continue to do what we do regardless of our opponent."
Junior Christian Casto filled in at the wing position due to injuries and came away with 55 yards rushing on just five carries, including a 17-yard run. He also had a 20-yard reception.
"Christian stepped up nicely and had a really good night," the coach said.
Senior quarterback Braunavan Arsenault completed only three of 16 passes but for 79 yards. He also ran the ball three times for 15 yards.
Senior tight end Alex Rowan had two receptions for 42 yards, including a 22-yard catch.
Senior Cameron Bennett and junior linebacker Jared Andrews each led the way defensively with six tackles.
"We put Cameron in both as an outside linebacker and standup defensive end because of injuries," said Parker. "He did a really nice job of stepping up and playing in space but also being able to step up on the run game as well.
"Jared is a true program kid. He works hard in the weight room and works his butt off all summer. It’s great to see his hard work and dedication pay off for him on the football field."
With four tackles apiece were Arsenault, doubling as a defensive back, senior defensive back Noah McClendon and junior defensive back Kobe Brown.
Cuyahoga Falls is scheduled to travel to Hudson Friday and Nordonia Oct. 25. Both are National Conference games that are set to kick off at 7 p.m.