They had the momentum.
After yielding 27 points to visiting Orrville in the first quarter, Cuyahoga Valley Christian Academy cut the deficit to 27-14 at halftime Sept. 23 in a Principals Athletic Conference game.
"We were very excited about the second half. Our guys felt very good, they were riding pretty high," said CVCA head coach Dan Larlham. "I told them, 'Hey, we've got some things to figure out here. We're gonna make our adjustments on the offensive line. Defensively, we gave up some chunk plays because of missed assignments, not because of lack of talent. Let's go out there and execute.'"
The Royals got the ball to begin the second half, but they went three and out. They forced the Red Riders into a three and out themselves, but stalled again on their ensuing possession.
"Orrville scored on its next possession and that was it," Larlham said.
The Red Riders put it in cruise control the rest of the way en route to a 48-14 victory.
"We just couldn't get enough going offensively," said the coach. "Our guys are struggling to learn how to win right now. We needed to respond a little better in the second half. Orrville is a talented and experienced team, and our inexperience showed, including four turnovers."
Orrville took an early 6-0 lead when Austin Domer raced 65 yards for a touchdown.
"It was a toss sweep," Larlham said. "Our back side guys took some bad angles and gave them a cutback lane and that was it. Their guy was gone."
The Red Riders upped their lead to 13-0 on a four-yard touchdown run by Domer. The lead increased to 20-0 when Shelton Smothers intercepted a Brock Simmons pass and returned it 80 yards for a touchdown.
"The ball slipped out of Brock's hand a little bit, he double-clutched and threw it a half second late," Larlham said. "Their kid jumped the route and made a good play."
Orrville made it 27-0 on Nathen Dombroski's three-yard run.
CVCA got on the board a few plays into the second quarter when junior running back Jack Atwood capped a 70-yard drive by scoring on a nine-yard run. A couple of possessions later the home team cut the deficit to 13 points on sophomore Tre Tucker's five-yard touchdown run.
"We were executing extremely well," Larlham said. "We got back to some of the things we do well like attacking the perimeter and then banging into the side for a couple yards. When we execute like we're supposed to, we're able to compete."
Unfortunately for the Royals, it was all Orrville the rest of the way.
Domer scored again in the third quarter on a 34-yard touchdown run. His brother Logan scored on an eight-yard run on the Red Riders' very next possession, making the score 41-14.
Smothers put the icing on the cake for Orrville when he raced 97 yards for a touchdown in the fourth quarter.
Simmons, a sophomore, finished 1-for-10 for 17 yards with two interceptions.
"Brock is making some poor decisions but, at the same time, we're not helping him out," said Larlham. "Even though we had a pretty good night on the ground, we're not running the ball effectively enough. We did a decent job protecting him, but he got popped a few times. With a young quarterback, that can get in his head."
Atwood rushed the ball six times for 142 yards, including a 58-yarder that helped set up CVCA's second touchdown.
"On that play, Orrville had a lot of guys in the box, but we got enough hats on hats inside for Jack to take off. He started on the left side, broke a tackle and took it down the right sideline. He's one of the best football players we have. I'm not really sure there's anything on the football field that Jack can't handle. He's pretty special, a natural athlete."
Tucker had 11 carries for 50 yards.
"Anytime Tre touches the ball, he's got a chance to do something great," said the coach.
Also for CVCA, sophomore Jacob Decatur rushed the ball four times for 25 yards and junior Isaac Strausser had one reception for 17 yards.
Defensively, Larlham noted Atwood played strong safety and was his usual awesome self. Freshman nose tackle Breslin Walker was a man among boys.
"Breslin is doing a lot of good things," Larlham said. "He splits double teams and makes tackles in the backfield."
CVCA took an 0-5 overall record and 0-2 PAC mark into a Sept. 30 game at conference rival Tuslaw, but the result was not available at press time.
The Royals host Indian Valley, another conference foe, Oct. 7. Kickoff is at 7 p.m.