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Falcons face defeat for first time in 2019
September 25, 2019

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The most dangerous football teams are the ones that are desperate for a win.

Following a 1-2 start to its season, Warren Harding's playoff aspirations seemed in peril. Enter the Fitch Falcons, whose season started with a fantastic three-game winning streak. The Falcons traveled to Mollenkopf Stadium last Friday night filled with confidence along with that 3-0 record. Unfortunately for Falcon Nation, the determined Raiders proved to be dangerous. Harding's defense held the heretofore high-flying Falcons' offense without a touchdown until the final moments as it knocked Fitch from the ranks of the unbeaten 10-7. Not only was that the Falcons' first loss of the year, but it also gave Harding back-to-back triumphs over its Mahoning County cousin.

At the outset of the game it seemed as if neither team was very interested in gaining some all-important playoff points. The contest remained scoreless for nearly 22 minutes of game time. Finally, with a little more than two minutes left in the first half, the home team dented the scoreboard on a 23-yard touchdown toss from Elijah Taylor to Ty Artis. Harding would carry that 7-0 lead into halftime. A field goal by the Raiders would make it 10-0 midway through the third period. Fitch would finally find the end zone with 2:50 left in the fourth quarter when sophomore quarterback Devin Sherwood slithered in from one yard out. The Falcons defense did their job and stopped the Radiers, handing the ball over to their offense with a few ticks left on the clock. With little time and too many yards in front of them, the Falcons did not do anything with their last ditch opportunity as the Raiders went on to the victory. Falcon head coach Jon Elliot emphasized how Harding's ability to use multiple looks and the advantage it had in the speed game made the difference in the loss.

"(Harding) did a great job moving guys around," Elliot said. "They were also a lot faster than us. Our kids couldn't adjust."

Another thing that Elliot possibly believed his team couldn't adjust to was their own press clippings. The Falcons have done an excellent job overcoming the well-publicized adversity from the offseason to begin the year 3-0. After the loss last week, Elliot admitted that perhaps his players' heads may have inflated a tad too much.

"Maybe we got complacent," said the coach. "I hate to lose any game, but maybe this was a blessing in disguise. The kids have to get better."

It will be quite difficult for the Falcons to improve this Friday because charging into Austintown will be unbeaten Cleveland Benedictine. The Bengals are annually a state power and this season is no different. They've scored an unworldly 204 points in their first four victories, which is an average of 51 points per game. That total includes a 72 point explosion in a Week 3 annihilation of Cleveland Central Catholic. Last week, the Bengals went up to Erie Cathedral Prep and pummeled the perennial Pennsylvania playoff contender 45-24. The Fitch coaching staff has started watching Benedictine on film and are easily impressed.

"(Benedictine) is a very good football team," Elliot sad. "They are solid. The win up at Erie Prep is a great win."

Even with the obstacles that seem to be placed in front of his kids, Elliot still believes his boys have a shot of gaining their fourth win if a couple of positive things happen.

"Our defense is playing pretty well so if they keep doing that and our offense gets better, we have a chance this week," said Elliot.

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