PEPPER PIKE–Chagrin Falls was able to overcome an early 14-point deficit as the Tigers rallied to beat host Orange in overtime on Friday, 21-14.
Owen McClintock found the end zone on a three-yard run in the extra period for what would be the game-winning score as the Tigers improved to 4-1.
“Tremendous effort, it really was,” Chagrin head coach Mark Iammarino said. “We got down early and then when you’re down early, sometimes you get frustrated and try to do too much. We regrouped at halftime and I’m just proud of our kids that they never quit and always believed to give us a chance at the end.”
Orange was able to grab momentum early with crafty plays on special teams but could not find any holes in the Tiger defense in the second half as the Lions fell to 0-3.
Greg Beard was the focal point for the Lions’ offense as he finished with a rushing touchdown and a big reception that set up the Lions’ other score.
Andrew Bazzone showed up big for the Tigers’ stout defense racking up 2 1/2 sacks. Donny Hardy came up with a huge fumble recovery on a muffed punt late in the fourth quarter that set up the Tigers for the game-tying touchdown.
Cam O’Connor had a touchdown run and Josh Norton had a touchdown catch in regulation for the Tigers.
“Our defense did a much better job in the second half,” Iammarino said. “Offensively, we made just enough plays and having Andrew [Kirkpatrick] as a kicker, we were able to flip the field a bunch on his punts and his kickoffs. That’s a huge weapon.”
Orange started the game off with a bang as the Lions successfully recovered an onside kick to open the game. The Lions moved quickly into Tiger territory and capped off the drive with a two-yard Greg Beard touchdown.
After the teams traded punts, a 56-yard catch by Beard set up the Lions for a 19-yard touchdown pass from Zak Basharat to Devin Culliver giving them a 14-0 lead at the end of the first quarter.
The Tigers were able to get the run game going on their first possession of the second quarter on a 59-yard touchdown drive. Dawson Pierce capped off the drive with a 10-yard touchdown pass to Norton, cutting the deficit to 14-7.
Chagrin forced the Lions into a quick punt on their next possession, but the Lions faked the punt on fourth-and-5 and were able to keep the drive alive.
The Lions marched deep into Tiger territory but two Bazzone sacks kept them out of the end zone and left the score 14-7 going into the break.
“They were moving a lot of receivers around, so we had to figure out what our checks were going to be and how we were going to be able to defend the multiple receiver side without leaving us too weak on the other end,” Iammarino said about his team’s defensive adjustments in the second half. “But it’s a really good running back. He ran the ball well, but we settled down a little bit. Once we settled down, I thought we tackled better than we did in the first half.
Both teams came out strong on defense in the second half and were held scoreless in the third quarter.
Orange looked to have control of the game late in the fourth until Hardy recovered a muffed punt giving the Tigers new life at the Lions’ 19.
O’Connor took an outside handoff to the house on the very next play tying the game at 14 with 3:51 remaining.
The Lions were able to drive into Tiger territory on their ensuing possession, but Chagrin held on fourth-and-3 sending the game into overtime.
The Tigers got the first possession in overtime and found the end zone in just three plays. McClintock scored on a three-yard run giving the Tigers their first lead of the night.
“Everybody loves an overtime game,” McClintock said. “It’s a nice Friday night, it’s warm. It’s the best feeling in the world.”
A motivated Tiger defense forced two straight incompletions and Miguel Demastus intercepted Basharat’s pass on fourth-and-6 to seal Chagrin Falls’ comeback win.
“I think we gave effort all four and a half quarters,” Beard said. “I mean, we did what we could, I think.”
The Tigers will return home for Senior Night next week as they host West Geauga. Orange will look to find its way into the win column for the first time this year as the Lions host Lakeside.