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Fitch falls for second straight week
October 2, 2019

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Fitch's football team has followed a fabulous three-game winning streak to start the season with its second straight loss.

One week after getting edged by three points by Warren Harding, the Falcons were not able to bounce back against Cleveland Benedictine. The Bengals roared into Austintown and blew past the Falcons 42-27 last Friday night. The Falcons will now attempt to shake off their mini losing skid and right their ship this Friday against visiting Massillon Washington. The legendary Tigers are 5-0 following a 56-0 whitewash of Akron Firestone last Friday night. The Falcons are certainly getting out of the frying pan and into the fire.

It was Fitch that was on fire for a lot of the first half against the unbeaten Bengals. A balanced offense allowed the Falcons to hold their own versus their strong opponent. Benedictine only led 21-20 at halftime. After intermission, however, a lot of the good things Fitch was doing over the first 24 minutes started going south. The visitors became more comfortable throwing the football downfield, which softened Fitch's previously stout defense.

"(Benedictine) started completing passes for long gains," answered Fitch head coach Jon Elliot when asked what changed in the second half. "They missed a few of those in the first half. We didn't do a good job tackling either."

Even with the long connections going against them the Falcons still had a chance to win the game in the fourth quarter. Elliot's squad was down just one score when they stopped the Bengals on a fourth down and three. Unfortunately, the Falcons were called for a penalty eliminating the huge defensive hold, thus giving the ball back to Benedictine. A subsequent touchdown had the guests up two scores. That was a little too much for the Falcons to withstand.

"We had them down and were getting the ball back," Elliot said. "The offside was really bad because our guy wasn't even supposed to rush on that play. From there we had to chase them, and we just ran out of time. We're not the type of team that can just wing it (in the passing game)."

Making things tougher for Fitch's comeback bid was the amount of injuries it suffered amongst its receiving corp.

"We had kids playing wide receiver that aren't used to playing," Elliot said.

Two of the most significant injuries suffered by the Falcons were to seniors Lorenzo Russo and Shawn Mayes. At press time the severity of their maladies weren't certain, but Elliot admitted that both of their seasons may be over.

Despite all of the offense on the Benedictine side, the Falcons were able to match their opponent with some of their own sparkling numbers. Devin Sherwood had 156 yards rushing and two touchdowns. C.J. Woodberry went for 51 yards on the ground and grabbed three balls for 27 yards and a touchdown reception. Sophomore Tyler Evans stepped up at receiver and had five catches for nearly 50 yards. Nate Leskovac ran for 36 yards and had a touchdown pass. In fact, Elliot was impressed with how well his team looked in the passing game.

"We got back on track offensively," he said. "We did more on offense than we have been doing. We were able to throw the ball and complete some passes. We blocked better too."

While Fitch's offensive line improved a lot from the previous weeks, its defensive front fared better as well.

"We did ok stopping the run," said Elliot. "(Benedictine) killed us through the air though."

Massillon is another team that can kill you through the air. Senior quarterback Aidan Longwell set the school's all-time passing record in the Tigers' Week 5 victory. Longwell's defensive teammates can also kill you. They swarmed all over Firestone holding it to 1.5 yards per play last week.

"(Massillon) is so good on both sides of the ball," Elliot said. "I don't know if it's possible in high school football, but we need to play an error free game."

Fitch has lost its last three games to the Tigers, including last season's 42-14 thumping. That game was a lot like the one Fitch lost last week because it forced the Falcons to play from behind. Elliot knows his kids must avoid that position this time or they will be in jeopardy of losing their fourth straight game to Massillon and third straight game this season.

"We know it's going to be a physical game," said Elliot. "Our kids always play hard (against Massillon). We need to play hard again, come out and compete and give ourselves a chance to win in the fourth quarter."

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