The Orange gridders blocked a pair of extra-point attempts, but it was special teams that accounted for the difference in a 27-25 road loss in their season opener against rival Beachwood on Friday night at McCullough Field.
Orange missed three extra points, while the Division V Bison were successful on a two-point conversion by junior receiver Ben Desatnik with the game on the line with 2:35 to play in the fourth quarter.
The Lions had 11 straight wins against Beachwood entering the night, with Beachwood’s last victory in the rivalry coming by way of a 28-21 affair in 2007.
“I feel like I’m in a nightmare,” Orange 11th-year head coach Adam Bechlem said. “We just didn’t execute, which is hard to say, because we ran the ball for almost 400 yards. But, in watching the film, there was just a lot of execution details on both sides of the ball, and you can’t play like that and win a football game. I should say three phases of the ball.”
Orange finished the night with 420 yards, including 378 yards rushing, which was backboned by 165-pound senior running back Diante White’s 21 carries for 227 yards with a touchdown.
Beachwood had 310 yards of offense with junior quarterback Desmond Horne completing five of seven passes for 64 yards, as well as tucking the pigskin 15 times for 128 yards.
The Bison opened the game with a 14-yard touchdown run by 185-pound junior Kendyn Wiggins, but Orange answered on a 57-yard touchdown run by senior quarterback Brian Pernell to tie the game, 7-7, with 6:45 remaining in the first quarter.
Beachwood then scored back-to-back touchdowns to take a 19-7 lead midway through the second quarter, with the Lions blocking both of the extra-point attempts.
“We just got a great push and got great effort,” Bechlem said. “And I’m saying all these things we could have done better, but our kids gave great effort, and the want-to was there. But it’s got to be sustained, and it’s got to be done the whole time.”
Orange senior receiver Tre’von Davis hauled in a 7-yard touchdown pass from Pernell to cut the deficit, 19-13, before intermission, and the Lions took over the momentum with White’s 77-yard touchdown run to tie the game just 19 seconds into the third quarter.
But quarterback Pernell, who had eight carries for 90 yards, was one of the Lions’ key players to go down with cramps and not return to finish the game. Junior Zak Basharat took over at signal-caller.
“I thought both quarterbacks did a really nice job,” Bechlem said. “But I was shocked by (guys getting cramps). I mean, we’re in great shape. I would have said we were a football team that’s in tremendous shape. Our guys paid the price and put in the work. So, it’s shocking, because that typically doesn’t happen for us.”
Nonetheless, Basharat came in and tossed a 34-yard touchdown to senior receiver Mike McNeil for the Lions’ 25-19 upper hand entering the fourth quarter.
But Beachwood’s Horne had the final say with a 20-yard touchdown strike to senior Jeshaun Minter and that two-point conversion to Desatnik for the 27-25 final.
“I told the guys before the game that we had to win in three phases,” Bechlem said. “We had to win in turnovers, penalties and special teams. And, when you look at it, we lost turnovers, 2-0. We lost special teams, because we missed three extra points, and we allowed them a two-point conversion after we had blocked two extra points.
“And then penalties were low on each team, but we still lost that, 5-4, and there was a critical holding penalty on our last drive that pushed us behind the chains, and ultimately we weren’t able recover from it.”
Chagrin Falls 14
Chagrin Falls will have to take a hard look at its run defense after a 55-14 road loss against Division III Streetsboro during the Tigers’ season opener on Friday night at Quinn Field in Portage County.
The host Rockets scored two touchdowns in each quarterback behind 653 yards of offense, including 543 yards rushing with three guys surpassing the century mark: sophomore quarterback Maysun Klimak had 10 carries for 105 yards; senior running back Krys Riley-Richardson, a 225-pounder, had 16 carries for 242 yards with three touchdowns; and 190-pound junior running back Donovan Washington had 11 carries for 124 yards and two touchdowns.
Streetsboro took a 21-0 lead early in the second quarter, but thanks to a pair of touchdowns by Chagrin Falls junior playmaker Xavier Perez, as well as blocking a Rocket field-goal attempt, the Tigers remained within striking distance, 28-14, at the break.
But a 30-yard touchdown run by Washington and a 90-yard touchdown toss from Klimak to junior Carter Giacomo blew open the gap, 41-14, in the third quarter as the Rockets cruised to victory.
Chagrin Falls junior quarterback Dawson Pierce finished the night 11-of-22 passing for 114 yards; while Perez had five carries for 27 yards and two catches for 18 yards; senior Will Richmond had five catches for 64 yards; and senior Lucas Gaizutis finished with three catches for 23 yards.
On defense, Tiger junior defensive back Miguel Demastus had a team-high 10 tackles, while Gaizutis had nine and Richmond tallied eight.
West Geauga 3
There was no upsetting a rival for the West Geauga football team in this year’s season opener, when the Wolverines lost a 41-3 road battle against Division III Chardon on Friday night at Memorial Stadium.
The host Hilltoppers wasted no time intercepting West Geauga on the opening drive and then going down to score on backup senior quarterback Joey Trivisonno’s 6-yard touchdown run for the 7-0 lead.
West Geauga provided an answer, when 6-foot-4 senior quarterback Riley Huge dialed up sophomore slotback Michael Cavasinni for a 35-yard gain to set up sophomore Joey DiLalla’s 26-yard field goal to cut the deficit, 7-3, with 6:34 to go in opening frame.
Chardon went on to take a 28-3 upper hand by halftime, with West Geauga junior defensive back Trae Zimmerman intercepting a Trivisonno pass in the red zone late in the second quarter to prevent further damage.
But the Hilltoppers’ defense was too much to overcome, holding West Geauga to just 129 yards of offense. Huge finished eight-of-25 passing for 85 yards with three interceptions, while Zimmerman had eight carries for 27 yards.
Chardon amassed 368 yards, 243 of which came from the wing-T ground attack. Trivisonno finished five-of-seven passing for 125 yards and had 11 carries for 53 yards with three touchdowns, while 175-pound senior running back DJ Bowman had 17 carries for 85 yards with two touchdowns.