Game of the Week

PAC 7 barn burner doesn’t disappoint as Orrville beats CVCA 37-34

With plenty of playoff points and Principals Athletic Conference bragging rights up for grabs, there was a lot of growing enthusiasm to pack the stands at Cuyahoga Valley Christian Academy (4-2, 2-1) as the Royals hosted the Orrville Red Riders (5-1, 3-0). With each team featuring do-it-all superstars in the form of CVCA’s senior dynamo Tre Tucker (the reigning Div. II state champion in the 100-meter dash and long jump) and Orrville’s sophomore quintuple-threat Marquael Parks, this game didn’t disappoint as the game was up for grabs until the final play when Orrville held on for the 37-34 victory.

Coach Dan Larlham’s squad got on the scoreboard first with 7:31 left in the opening quarter when Tre Tucker ran the ball into the end zone from 4 yards out (extra point kick by Bryce Kightlinger was good) to earn his first of three touchdowns on the evening and his Royals an early 7-0 lead.

The Red Rider offense wasted no time in answering the Royals scoring drive as senior quarterback Logan Domer drove the Orrville offense down the field with Marquael Parks capping off the drive when he took the direct snap, followed two key blocks and beat the Royals defense in a sprint to the left pylon to square things up at 7-7 with 5:11 to go in the first quarter (extra point kick by Cain Duskey was good).

After the Orrville defense held CVCA to a three-and-out, the Red Rider offense went back to work and were once again quick to light up the score board behind some trickery. Parks took the ball and passed to Donoven Hall, connecting for a 69-yard scoring strike (extra point kick by Duskey was good). Orrville claimed a 14-7 lead with 2:16 left in the first quarter.

The Rider defense continued to bottle up Tucker and the Royals’ offense early in the second quarter, and after another stalled drive by CVCA’s offense, Parks was at it again when he spun, juked and literally hopped his way through seemingly every Royal defender on his way to his own 69-yard TD (Duskey kick was wide right) to give the Red Rider offense 20 straight unanswered points, and it looked like the route was on with Orrville holding a 20-7 advantage that they held into the intermission.

The Royals had dug themselves a hole in the first half and needed to regroup quickly, but Orrville began the second half with the ball until the Royals forced Parks to cough up the football on the second play of the Riders’ opening drive of the half. The turnover was just what the doctor ordered as the Royals offense didn’t waste the opportunity given to them by their defense. Two plays later sophomore quarterback Michael Bevington zipped a pass to Tre Tucker, and he took it to the house for a 48-yard TD (extra point by Kightlinger was good) with 10:39 left in the third quarter. The Royals narrowed the Rider advantage to 20-14.

In what turned out to be an hour-long quarter of play, significantly slowed by personal fouls called on both teams and some confused penalties called by an officiating crew that seemed overwhelmed by the speed of both squads, Orrville eventually answered the CVCA scoring strike with a clock-burning drive aided by a roughing the passer penalty that ended with Donoven Hall plunging into the end zone from 1 yard out (Cain Duskey kick was good) for his second score of the night. Once again the Red Riders held a two-score lead at 27-14 with 5:33 left in the third quarter.

Neither team wanted anything to do with giving Tucker or Parks a chance at returning a kick, which led to an amazing number of onside attempts for the game. Orrville squibbed another kick to the Royals, and the Red Riders recovered the loose ball, which led to another red and white scoring opportunity when Duskey booted a 28-yard field goal to increase Orrville’s lead to 30-14 with 4:06 left in the third quarter.

These events easily could have been a back-breaking shift in momentum as most high school teams would have wallowed in the hole they found themselves in, but the Royals and Tucker showed a never-say-die attitude and displayed the heart of what should be a playoff-bound squad. The Royals needed to strike every chance they touched the ball in order to get back into this game, and Tucker did just that when he took a direct snap and hit the jets up the middle for 48 yards to pay dirt (two-point attempt failed) to make it a 30-20 Orrville advantage.

The Royal defense dug in their heels and forced Orrville to punt on their next possession, and CVCA’s offense went back to work but were pinned deep within their own territory after a booming 51-yard punt by the Riders’ senior Ben Summers. It appeared CVCA was well on their way to another scoring drive until Orrville senior Payton Brown stepped in front of a Tre Tucker pass. This was followed by Domer hitting Elijah Hall on an over-the-shoulder circus catch for a 29-yard touchdown (Duskey extra point was good) to provide Orrville with a 37-20 lead with 9:09 left in the game.

*this video clip compliments of Kyle Domer

Once again the Royals were backed into a corner, and once again CVCA scratched and clawed their way back into the game when sophomore running back Dalton Duvall found the end zone (kick by Kightlinger was successful) on a 2-yard scamper around the left end. With 5:04 remaining, Orrville still held the 37-27 lead.

In yet another onside kick attempt, Orrville failed to jump on the bouncing ball, and the Royals recovered for another shot to eat into the deficit, but Orrville’s defense held due to a couple of big plays from Burl Pumphrey, Ben Summers and Ben Amstutz, which forced the Royals to turn the ball over on downs with 3:45 to go. However, the Riders were unable to chew time off the clock due to penalties, discussions among officials or inefficiencies with the game clock from the press box. Depending on which team you were pulling for, any or possibly all of the above were reasons for a lot of head scratching from both sidelines at the end of this contest.

Regardless of the on-and-off field drama, the Royals once again found themselves with the ball and a chance for a miracle ending on the night of homecoming, but time was ticking away. Tucker once again proved why he is a Div. I college recruit when he connected with Josh Junko on a 19-yard prayer into the end zone (kick by Kightlinger was successful) and the Royals closed their deficit to 37-34 with just 0:23 seconds remaining.

The Royals recovered yet another onside kick, and it was looking like a game for the ages, but the Red Rider defense held when Tucker finally ran out of gas as time expired.

Tucker finished an incredible evening with 212 yards rushing on 34 attempts with two touchdowns and one reception for a 48-yard score. He also was one of four passing with one TD and one interception.

Parks finished with 172 yards rushing on 17 attempts, resulting in two scores. He also threw two passes with one TD. With CVCA containing Parks in the second half, Orrville’s Donoven Hall rose to the occasion and had an amazing double-century night with 106 yards rushing (one TD) and 100 yards receiving (one TD). Logan Domer finished 13 of 22 passing with one TD and one interception while adding 37 yards on the ground.

As mentioned earlier, it was a tough night for the stripes. The stat sheet shows the game finished with 17 called penalties, which easily seemed like a dozen more when taking into account the length of time it took to sort everything out. Orrville finished with 10 flags for a whopping 195 yards. CVCA was penalized seven times for 51 yards. One forgetful play in the fourth quarter had the play clock winding and ball snapped while three officials were still explaining to the sidelines a judgement from the previous play. One can hope this crew improves next week as game summaries shouldn’t need to critique how a game was poorly handled.

For CVCA, the Royals will regroup this Friday, Oct. 5 at 7 p.m. when they travel for a PAC-7 contest against Tuslaw (2-4, 0-3).

For Orrville, the Red Riders will look to continue their five-game winning streak and protect their unblemished conference record when they host PAC-7 foe Loudonville (4-2, 3-0) on Friday, Oct. 5 at 7 p.m.

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