CLEVELAND HEIGHTS — Oberlin coach Fred Howery had one of those valuable teaching moments Saturday at Lutheran East.
Up 25-0 a minute into the fourth quarter, Oberlin suddenly found itself in a ballgame before hanging on for a 25-18 season-opening win.
“Second half, it’s 25-0 and we thought we had everything under control,” Howery said. “This is what a young team does. They sit back and relax. We’ve got to put people away. The switch can’t be turned on and off as easily as they thought it could.”
After quarterback Brendon Medina scored on a 10-yard run with 11:06 left and Grant Cadenhead added the point after, Oberlin had what appeared to be a safe lead.
Lutheran East had other ideas tough.
The Falcons offense suddenly came alive, sparked by a short pass from Isaiah Jackson to Rodney Paradise, who turned a small gain into a 55-yard score.
“Both teams were tired,” Lutheran East coach Eric Mitchell said. “We play limited kids but we found some things that worked for us and got some positive results.”
The Falcons defense rose to the occasion, giving the ball back to the offense on a three-and-out and an interception. Lutheran East scored twice to slice the margin to its final count, but an onside kick went out of bounds allowing the Phoenix to kill the final 1:40.
Until East got its first touchdown, its offense was ineffective to say the least. The Falcons had the one-play 55-yard score followed by drives of 60 and 79 yards, which were aided by a couple of 15-yard penalties on the Phoenix.
Oberlin got a break when Lutheran East shot itself in the foot late in the first half on a bad snap, a fumble and a dropped touchdown pass that enabled the Phoenix to hold a 12-0 advantage at the break. Otherwise the Falcons’ big finish might have been more costly for the Phoenix.
Oberlin methodically built its lead around the running of 5-foot-1 senior Elijah Bugg, who used his size to his advantage, hiding behind his blockers and racing to open spaces in East’s defense. He scored two touchdowns and had one called back on a block-in-the-back call.
He finished with 122 well-earned yards rushing.
“I never give up on myself,” Bugg said after giving credit to Medina, the quarterback, his offensive line, fullback and his wide receivers. “There’s a lot of big guys out here. I like to tell a lot of people size doesn’t matter. Growing up, short, playing football, people doubt you a lot, saying you can’t do this, do that but you just come out here and prove it on the field.”
“We’re going to put all the weight on his shoulders and he’ll have to run all day,” Howery said. “You don’t see him until he’s on top of you — by that time, he’s by you.”
CLASS ACT: Before leaving on the bus, Bugg interrupted Lutheran East’s postgame meeting to personally congratulate the players for their comeback effort.
Contact Tim Gebhardt at 329-7135 or firstname.lastname@example.org.
Oberlin 25, Lutheran East 18
Oberlin 12 0 6 7 — 25
Lutheran East 0 0 0 18 — 18
O—Kiylan Bugg 26 run (kick blocked)
O—Bugg 11 run (pass failed)
O—Brendon Medina 2 run (run failed)
O—Medina 10 run (Grant Capenhead kick)
LE—Rodney Paradise 55 pass from Isaiah Jackson (run failed)
LE—Robert Drake 47 pass from Jackson (run failed)
LE—Drake 39 run (run failed)
First downs 11 16
— by rushing 8 5
— by passing 2 6
— by penalty 1 5
Yards rushing 197 108
Yards passing 36 173
Total offense 233 281
Passes att./comp. 6/2 20/13
Intercepted by 0 1
Fumbles/lost 1/0 1/1
Penalties/yards 10/95 7/45
RUSHING—(O) Kiylan Bugg 18-122, Tyler Thomas 7-43, Brendon Medina 7-28, Marvin Jackson 2-4. (LE) Robert Drake 7-59, Mark Churchill 8-45, Derrick Moten 4-8, Rodney Paradise 3-2, Ty’Shawn Purse 1-2, Isaiah Jackson 8-(-8).
PASSING— (O) Brendon Medina 2-6-36-0-1. (LE) Isaiah Jackson 11-17-163-2-0, Robert Drake 2-3-10-0-0.
RECEIVING— (O) Tyler Thomas 1-25, DeVante Hougland 1-11. (LE) Bryce Harper 6-45, Rodney Paradise 4-78, Robert Drake 1-47, Derrick Moten 2-3.