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The Cuyahoga Falls High School football team may have lost to Suburban League National Conference counterpart Nordonia on Oct. 7, but the Black Tigers showed tremendous improvement in defeat.
The visiting Knights knocked off Falls by the score of 37-20.
"That was a much improved Cuyahoga Falls team," said Nordonia head coach Jeff Fox. "That was not the same team of the past few years. They provided a challenge to us, and we tip our hats to them."
Nordonia scored the first two touchdowns of the game, but Cuyahoga Falls reached the end zone on a three-yard run by sophomore fullback Tyler Hitchings in the second quarter. With the extra point by senior placekicker Greg McDevitt, the Black Tigers drew to within 14-7.
After the Knights added a field goal to stretch their lead to 17-7, Falls scored again, this time on a two-yard scamper to pay dirt by senior running back Jacob Sage. Another McDevitt conversion kick made the score 17-14.
Nordonia extended its advantage to 30-14 in the second half. In the fourth period, the Black Tigers tallied their third touchdown of the contest, as senior quarterback Nate Vassalotti hit senior wide receiver Nick Siegferth with a 20-yard scoring aerial. Falls tried for two points, but the conversion pass failed.
"I'm pleased with the way we performed offensively," said Cuyahoga Falls head coach Sean Flaherty. "We got a couple of sustained drives going and we put some points on the board early. Defensively, Nordonia made it tough on us. They have a lot of talent at the skill positions, and they made some big plays."
Senior running back Jake Gruic led the way for Falls offensively, gaining 100 rushing yards on 19 carries. In addition, sophomore running back Jordan Bosley rushed for 22 yards on four totes, sophomore fullback James Cross had nine yards on two carries, and sophomore running back Daizhaun Brazile picked up eight yards with his lone attempt.
Vassalotti was efficient in the passing game, completing 6-of-7 throws for 162 yards. Siegferth was his favorite target, catching three balls for 96 yards, while junior wide receiver Ben Kinker nabbed two receptions for 26 yards and sophomore tight end Tim Boltz had one reception covering 40 yards.
Kinker also intercepted a pass on defense, while senior defensive end Sam Forbes registered seven tackles and one sack and Hitchings added six tackles and a sack.
With the loss, Falls dropped to 1-6 overall. The Black Tigers also sport a mark of 0-4 within the National Conference.
According to Flaherty, the Black Tigers are playing much better than their record would indicate. The National Conference is extraordinarily competitive.
"We feel that we're moving in the right direction," said Flaherty. "We're improving week to week, and eventually that improvement is going to result in some wins."
Falls was set to face archrival Stow-Munroe Falls Oct. 14 on the road, but results were not available at press time.
"They can score a lot of points in a hurry," said Flaherty of the Bulldogs. "We're going to have to keep them in front of us defensively if we want to have a chance."
Falls will host North Royalton Oct. 21 at 7 p.m. for its final home game of the season.