Turnovers doom Cuyahoga Falls football in loss to Revere

Roger Gordon
Correspondent
Cuyahoga Falls running back Elijah Hicks stiff arms Copley defensive lineman Sam Seevers during Falls' opening game Sept. 4.

There are three things to avoid in football: Turnovers, turnovers and turnovers.

Fumbles and interceptions can kill a football team. That was exactly what they did to Cuyahoga Falls Sept. 11 in a 33-0 loss at Suburban League crossover rival Revere.

The Black Tigers committed three of them, all of which led to Minutemen touchdowns. One was a pick-six, and the other two were fumbles deep in Revere territory.

“Those fumbles erased probably what would’ve been two scores for us in my opinion,” Cuyahoga Falls head coach Shane Parker said. “Ball security is vital and is something that we stress all the time, but we didn’t really execute good enough in that area.”

On top of that, the Black Tigers failed to convert any of their nine third-down plays.

“We need to extend our drives on third and fourth down,” said Parker. “Dropping passes or overthrowing open routes … those kinds of things have really been hurting our third-down efficiency. The plays have been there, but the execution has just been a little lackluster. We need to take better advantage of what the defense is giving us and seize the opportunity when the opportunity is there to be seized.”

Revere took an early 8-0 lead on a 3-yard touchdown run. A 15-yard touchdown run later in the first quarter upped the Minutemen lead to 14-0.

Then came the real killer. Junior Tyler Harris, Cuyahoga Falls’ starting quarterback, threw a pass that was intercepted and returned 22 yards for a touchdown by Sam Fisher, which made the score 20-0.

“It was just a poorly executed play,” Parker said. “Revere made a nice play when the opportunity was presented to them, and they capitalized on it.”

Still in the opening frame, Revere extended its lead to 26-0 on an 11-yard touchdown pass by Lawrence Saltis. A 3-yard TD run in the third quarter made for the game’s final points.

“We just didn’t come out playing to our ability,” said Parker. “We waited until midway through the second quarter to start playing. You can’t spot a team a couple scores before you hit the switch and start playing at the level you’re supposed to be playing at. And that’s what we did.

“But I think, moving forward, these guys learned what level intrinsically they have to take themselves to to compete with anybody on our schedule for the remainder of the year. Once we got there against Revere, we were toe to toe with them and never backed down, never quit, so I’m really proud of our guys for that.”

Harris, who completed one of four passes for 7 yards, was replaced by sophomore Vonte Jackson midway through the second quarter.

Jackson was 4-of-12 for 36 yards, including a 16-yard pass to senior wide receiver Christian Casto. Jackson ran the ball 11 times for 59 yards, including a 19-yarder.

“Vonte is a really nice dual-threat quarterback who brings a lot to the table,” Parker said. “He’s young, so that comes with its own set of issues when you have a sophomore playing that position on Friday night. So there’s going to be some growing pains there I’d imagine throughout the season, but he’s very athletic. He’s very talented and gifted. I’m looking forward to seeing him continue to grow and get better every week.”

Senior running back Isaiah Campbell rushed the ball 13 times for 84 yards, including a 17-yarder. Kobe Brown gained 39 yards on six carries.

“Isaiah had a breakout night,” said the coach. “He’s starting to get a little confidence in his abilities. He didn’t play football last year, so it’s taking him a little while to shake the rust off, but it’s just like riding a bike. He’s getting right back up there, and I’m looking for more of those kind of numbers from him moving forward.

“Kobe had a nice night. We moved him to running back from wide receiver a little bit out of necessity. I thought he’d be a better fit there, and he’s starting to get it there. He’s a senior, a captain, so he’s going to do whatever it takes.”

Casto had five receptions for 61 yards.

“Christian left some plays on the field, but he improved from week one,” Parker said. “He’s a very talented and gifted young man. He just has to be able to find that next gear, which I think he started to find a little bit against Revere.”

Defensively, Cuyahoga Falls was led by senior outside linebacker Isaac Puchajda and linebacker mate Brown. Puchajda had 11 tackles, including two for loss, and Brown totaled seven tackles.

“Isaac had an outstanding game,” the coach said. “He’s not anywhere close to the biggest guy on the field, especially against Revere. They have some really big guys up front, including the left tackle who’s going to Ohio State who Isaac was lined up against. Being the underdog, Isaac really, really played well, and I’m really proud of the effort he put forth.”

Cuyahoga Falls is scheduled to take an 0-2 record into a game at Westlake Sept. 18 at 7 p.m.