For the second week in a row, the Cuyahoga Valley Christian Academy football gained a first-half lead only to lose a close game. This time around, it came in the league opener.
The youthful Royals lost 27-20 on the road in the opener of the Principal's Athletic Conference Sept. 16 at Zoarville Tuscarawas Valley.
CVCA (0-4, 0-1) continues to makes strides and obviously head coach Dan Larlham would like his club to finish stronger. The Trojans are 3-1 overall and 1-0 in the PAC.
In its first game against PAC newcomer Orrville, CVCA played Sept. 23 in its Homecoming game at home, but final results weren't available as of press time.
CVCA plays at Massillon Tuslaw in league play Sept. 30.
Orrville is 2-2 overall and is 1-0 in the PAC after beating Tuslaw (0-4, 0-1) 43-42 Sept. 16.
Kodey Lewis was a big reason that Tusky Valley beat CVCA, which had an opportunistic defense, but couldn't muster too much offense.
Lewis ran for 309 yards and two touchdowns on 31 carries for the Trojans.
Tusky Valley totaled 354 yards rushing and a 5.8 average per carry, while CVCA only had 7 net rushing yards on 25 attempts.
"We knew that TV wanted to run the football," said Larlham. "We stacked the box and, except for three big plays, they averaged less than three yards per carry."
The problem was that Lewis burned CVCA with a 91-yard TD run late in the first half, plus a 70-yard scoring jaunt late in the third stanza as the hosts tied the game 20-20 after a failed PAT.
"We just have to eliminate the big play and we would have been fine," said Larlham, of his 4-2-5 defense, which allowed only 5 yards passing.
Fullback Seth Johnson scored on his second TD run in the game with 2:12 left in the game to put Tusky Valley up 27-20.
Larlham was hoping to have a game-tying or winning drive, but Jalen Sharp had an interception for the Trojans with 1:01 left.
Tusky Valley held CVCA to 114 total yards on 48 plays, and only 2.4 yards a play. CVCA had seven first downs and were only 2-of-12 on third down conversions.
Big plays on defense gave the Royals some life.
CVCA scored first when junior defensive back Jack Atwood intercepted Ethan Love's pass and went 51 yards for a touchdown. The extra point kick was no good as CVCA led 6-0 on the only score in the first period.
The 91-yarder by Lewis then put TV up 7-6 in the second, followed by a one-yard TD plunge by the 206-pound Johnson. That made it 14-6 with the hosts leading.
However, the Royals showed some resilience -- helped by another big defensive play.
Senior free safety Jay Woodlee recovered a Trojan fumble and returned it 57 yards for a CVCA score. Freshman Chris DeLucia booted the PAT to slice the lead to just one point at 14-13.
Yet another big play on defense pushed the momentum to the Royals, who recovered a fumble at the Trojan 7-yard line.
Three plays later, sophomore quarterback Brock Simmons tossed a 6-yard scoring strike to sophomore wide receiver Tre Tucker. DeLucia's kick gave CVCA a 20-14 lead, which was the score at halftime.
Woodlee had two fumble recoveries and sophomore strong safety Jordan Decatur also had one.
"Those were all very crucial plays for us," pointed out Larlham.
Larlham stressed that his staff doesn't necessarily teach big-play ability on defense.
"We don't look to do it," he explained. "We look to be lined up correctly, trust our scouting report and make the plays in front of us. Jack Atwood's interception TD was a result of that."
Simmons finished 7-of-22 through the air for 98 yards, one TD, and two interceptions. Atwood led CVCA in rushing with 16 yards.
Junior wide receiver Isaac Strausser had a big game with three receptions for 72 yards, including a 39-yard catch from Simmons. Junior added a 10-yard catch, a 10-yard kickoff return, and averaged 41.0 yards on two punts.
Tucker, who is averaging 175.8 total yards a game, had his first pass completion of the fall.