CVCA football rallies for stun Salem

Roger Gordon
CVCA running back Kyle Snider hangs onto the ball during the Royals playoff loss to Lake Catholic Oct. 24. CVCA rebounded with a 28-21 win at Salem Oct. 30.

The Cuyahoga Valley Christian Academy football team showed some heart during its 28-21 victory Oct. 30 at Salem.

The Royals came back from two double-digit deficits to stun the Quakers.

“We turned the ball over early and had some things go against us, but we figured it out at halftime,” CVCA head coach Dan Larlham said. “It was enjoyable. We played a team that was really good, and we played a team that presented different challenges to us. But our guys figured some things out that were really special, so we were able to pull it out.”

CVCA improved to 7-3 on the season.

Salem took an early 7-0 lead on a 51-yard touchdown run by quarterback Jackson Johnson.

The Salem lead grew to 13-0 on an 18-yard touchdown pass from Johnson to Brock Young with just 23 seconds left in the first quarter.

Early in the second quarter, the Royals cut their deficit to 13-7 when senior quarterback Michael Bevington scored on a 27-yard run.

“Michael had fumbled on a similar play earlier in the game,” said Larlham. “He played the entire game on defense at cornerback, which is rare for him, and he looked kind of tired early, but he broke a couple tackles and popped into the end zone.”

Salem upped its lead to 21-7 with just 1:06 to go in the first half on a three-yard TD pass from Johnson to Jax Booth.

On the ensuing kickoff, junior Eli Diakandru took it to the house by returning the ball 82 yards for a touchdown to pull CVCA within 21-13 at halftime.

“Things were going the wrong way really quickly,” Larlham said, “but when Eli ran that thing back we had a little bit of momentum going into halftime.

“We made our adjustments at the break. I told the guys, ‘The adjustments are good, and our game plan is good. Now all we have to do is go execute them.’”

Execute they did.

CVCA made the score 21-19 with less than four minutes remaining in the third quarter when sophomore running back Kyle Snider scored on a one-yard touchdown run. Bevington’s pass to junior Brennan Darr on the two-point conversion tied the score.

Bevington ran around right end and scored from four yards out with three seconds left in the third quarter for CVCA’s winning points and its only lead of the night.

“Salem knew we were going to run that play, but our guys just outexecuted their guys,” said the coach.

The Quakers drove deep into CVCA territory, inside the red zone, on two consecutive series in the fourth quarter, only to be thwarted by interceptions by junior outside linebacker/free safety Brant Simmons.

“That was pretty incredible,” Larlham said. “After the second one, we were able to run the clock out. They were knocking on our doorstep all night long, but our defense played incredibly. Michael did some really good things at cornerback, and junior Matt Reitinger did pretty well at inside linebacker with eight tackles.”

Bevington wound up with 28 rushes for 188 yards. He also completed five of 10 passes for 49 yards.

“I get kind of boring as a play caller. We don’t throw the ball enough sometimes. When I get nervous, I like to run the ball,” said Larlham. “Michael always makes good decisions. He probably wants to throw the ball more than I do, but when he has to, he runs the ball very effectively, and he did so in this game.

“We have a really good offensive line. Three of our offensive linemen got first-team All-PAC-7, and Michael and Kyle got first-team all-conference too. So we run the ball like crazy, and that’s comforting for me.”

Snyder recovered from a first half in which he was ill to a second half in which his performance was key to his team’s win. He had 113 yards rushing on just 21 carries.

“It was pretty cool to see a guy who was struggling physically put it together,” Larlham said.

Senior wide receiver David Lewis had two receptions for 19 yards.

CVCA is scheduled to host Beloit West Branch Nov. 6 at 7 p.m.