CUYAHOGA FALLS — Sometimes you just have to scratch your head and figure it was one you probably didn’t deserve.
Five first-half turnovers, three huge defensive penalties that resulted in three first downs for Cuyahoga Falls and just a sloppy, sloppy performance still added up to a 28-14 win for Elyria on Friday night in Northeast Ohio Conference play.
“It’s the sign of a good team that they could win a game like this,” Elyria coach Kevin Fell said. “We didn’t do anything right. (Cuyahoga Falls) played well but we were absolutely our own worst enemy.”
Maybe Elyria was overconfident. Maybe Zack Woodings recovering a fumble on the opening kickoff and having the Pioneers jump in front 14-0 just four minutes and 10 seconds into the game had something to do with it.
Maybe the bus driver not really knowing the best route to Cuyahoga Falls in the first place played a role.
Who really knows, but shortly after building that 14-point cushion on a Jordan Connell touchdown run and a TD pass and 2-point conversion from Hunter Parsh to Dontae Dukes, everything went haywire for the Pioneers.
They gave the Black Tigers an easy six-play, 66-yard scoring drive right after it appeared they were on their way to another rout of Falls. Elyria won 35-3 two years ago on this same field and 49-14 at Ely Stadium last year, but the Pioneers fumbled away their next possession.
Ronnie Smith saved that one with an interception at the goal line and after pinning Falls deep on its next possession, Elyria was poised to get good field position only to have a short punt hit Connor Kamczyk in the back with the Black Tigers recovering at Elyria’s 38-yard line.
Again, as it ultimately did at several key points in the game, the defense came through, holding Falls to a botched field goal try following a fumbled the snap.
“It’s just something about being in this league and driving an hour and a half,” Fell said. “We didn’t play very well. It came easy early, then we started dropping the ball. We haven’t had stuff like that happen to us.”
Elyria should have put the game on ice with its first possession of the second half when it pounded the ball right down the Black Tigers’ throat. Jordan Connell ran the ball 10 times on the 13-play, 67-yard drive that put the Pioneers up 21-7 with 7:13 left in the third quarter.
But Falls refused to go away, pulling within a touchdown with 8:02 left in the game. Fall was threatening to tie the game when it drove into Elyria territory with a first down with under two minutes to go, but Kamczyk, Tracy Sprinkle and company come alive to stuff the threat near midfield.
Kamczyk sacked Falls’ Joe Repasky for an 8-yard loss on a third-and-three and combined with Sprinkle and Woodings to stop him again on fourth down.
“We knew defensively we had to make some big plays,” said Sprinkle, who was once again all over the field on defense.
• ONE-TWO PUNCH: Elyria High’s junior tandem at tailback —Lewis and Connell — took turns punishing Cuyahoga Falls’ defenders. Lewis lowered his shoulder pads for a number of crisp pops on his way to 149 yards and two scores on 22 attempts, while Connell was just as effective with 122 yards and a score on 20 attempts.
Contact Tim Gebhardt at 329-7135 or email@example.com.