CVCA offense 'clicking' like crazy in win at Tuslaw

Roger Gordon
Correspondent
CVCA quarterback Michael Bevington (right) goes on a long run with the ball followed by Orrville's Jake Phillips during the second quarter of their game at CVCA Friday, Sept 28, 2018 in Cuyahoga Falls, Ohio.

It’s a little early for basketball season, but you’d have never known it by looking at the score of the football game Sept. 18 between Cuyahoga Valley Christian Academy and Principals Athletic Conference rival Tuslaw.

CVCA defeated the Mustangs 62-43, its first win at Tuslaw in about a decade, to improve its overall and PAC-7 records to 2-2.

“Our offense was clicking like crazy,” Royals head coach Dan Larlham said. “We couldn’t do anything wrong whenever we got the ball. We were able to do whatever we wanted.”

CVCA, piled up nearly 500 total offensive yards, led by 35 points early in the third quarter, prompting Larlham to make major substitutions.

“We didn’t play well with the second-team guys in there, which gave Tuslaw some life,” said Larlham. “Once we put the starters back in, we were able to close it out.”

The game was pretty even in the first quarter. CVCA took a 7-0 lead on the third play from scrimmage when senior quarterback Michael Bevington ran for a 54-yard touchdown.

“Michael had to read the defensive end, and the defensive end chased Kyle Snider, our sophomore running back,” the coach said. “Michael made one cut and pretty much ran untouched to the end zone.”

A little more than two minutes later, Tuslaw tied the score on a 40-yard touchdown pass from Troy Harbeitner to Kaden Lau.

Later in the first quarter, the visitors regained the lead at 14-7 on a 5-yard touchdown run by Bevington.

“We designed the play for the middle, but Michael bounced around the right side,” said Larlham. “He has the liberty to run wherever the opening is.”

Tuslaw pulled within 14-13 on a 4-yard touchdown run by Jeremi Strong with 17 seconds to go in the first quarter. That was as close as the Mustangs would come to CVCA for the rest of the evening.

“Tuslaw was doing some things that we hadn’t really seen on film,” Larlham said, “so defensive coordinator Eric Wilson made some adjustments, and we were able to stifle all their stuff.”

CVCA extended its lead to 21-13 early in the second quarter on a 24-yard touchdown pass from Bevington to junior wide receiver Brendan Darr.

“It was a play-action pass, and we got the safety to bite up when we faked for the run,” said Larlham. “The corner was playing really high over the top, and Michael had to throw kind of a sinker from 24 yards out. Brendan made a diving catch in the end zone.”

At that point, the Royals began pouring it on, beginning with a 2-yard touchdown run by Snider that was set up by a 46-yard pass play from Bevington to senior wide receiver David Lewis.

Then came a 35-yard strike from Bevington to wideout Eli Diakandru for the junior’s first-ever touchdown.

A 2-yard TD run by Bevington late in the second quarter and a 6-yard scoring run by Snider early in the third ballooned the CVCA lead to 48-13.

A fumble recovery for a touchdown by Ryan Frascone and a 28-yard touchdown pass from Harbeitner to Michael Arnold gave Tuslaw some life and made the score 48-29.

Bevington closed out the third-quarter scoring with a 54-yard touchdown run to make it 55-29. However, a short touchdown run by Devyn Vanest and a 35-yard TD pass from Harbeitner to Lau with 4:44 left pulled the Mustangs within 55-43. Bevington, though, capped a sensational night for himself and iced the game when he ran 44 yards for a touchdown with less than three minutes remaining.

Bevington completed 10 of 14 passes for 152 yards. He ran the ball 16 times for 228 yards. Snider had 17 carries for 120 yards, including a 19-yard scamper.

“A lot of Michael’s running with the ball is built around Kyle being so effective as a running back,” Larlham said. “We feel like we have maybe the best one-two punch in the conference in the backfield. With those two, when one goes one way and the other goes the other way, you have to kind of pick your poison.”

Darr had four receptions for 54 yards, Diakandru had four catches for 42 yards and Lewis caught two balls for 56 yards.

“We had no drops at the receiver position,” said Larlham. “That means we put those guys in good spots, and when the ball was on their hands they squeezed it. They also block really effectively for our running game, and they take pride in that.”

Defensively, according to the coach, his first-stringers played very well.

“They gave up a couple early touchdowns but, with the adjustments, completely shut down anything Tuslaw wanted to do,” he said. “Kyle, as always, led the charge on defense at inside linebacker. Freshman Joey Lehner, a free safety, made some good plays for us. And Ben Andexler, a junior defensive lineman, was probably the standout defensive performer for the night. He was in the backfield all night long.”