COPLEY TWP. — Sometimes a football team needs to look at the little victories and not the final score.
Such was the case Friday for Cloverleaf, which lost to Copley 38-21 in Suburban League play.
The good news for the Colts (3-4, 0-4) came on big plays from junior running back Devin Cunningham and a scrappy second-half effort from their defense.
The bad news came in the form of 5-foot-10, 170-pound Aregeros Turner. Copley’s star tailback broke free for two 52-yard touchdown runs and finished with 227 rushing yards on 19 carries. The senior scored all five touchdowns for the Indians (5-2, 3-2).
The silver lining was Cloverleaf held Turner to 28 yards on seven carries in the second half, though he scored on a 3-yard run. The Colts didn’t back down from the dangerous senior running back, and that was encouraging for coach Bob Lake.
“I think our kids showed a lot of courage,” he said. “They didn’t quit. They didn’t give up. They fought hard, especially in the second half, and I’m proud of them for that. Week in and week out we’ve had some good effort, but just came up short.”
The effort started from the get-go, as Cunningham took the opening kickoff 98 yards — it was the third-longest return in Medina County history — to get Cloverleaf thinking about the upset.
Cunningham repeated the performance with a minute left in the first half with a 95-yarder that kept the Colts within striking distance, at least mathematically.
“Devin’s a great football player,” Lake said. “We had a lot of good blocks (on the kick returns). I think our kickoff return team did exceptionally well blocking tonight.”
But between those two electrifying kick returns was Turner, who scored four touchdowns in the first two quarters. The Indians went into the locker room leading 28-14 behind Turner’s 12 carries for 199 yards.
The score could have been worse for Cloverleaf had it not been for 70 yards on seven penalties for Copley.
Turner had a 67-yard touchdown run called back in the third quarter after a holding call. Junior Will Thomas had a 70-yard punt return for a touchdown canceled by another hold.
Cloverleaf kept up the pressure until the very end. With 1:40 left, Cunningham took a handoff from sophomore quarterback Garrison Flora and broke free for a 57-yard score.
It was, as they say, too little and too late.
Defensively, Cloverleaf had some moments. Senior Ty Zimon sacked Copley’s John Kromalic, and the Colts blocked a fourth-quarter field goal attempt.
“I thought we played hard for four quarters,” Lake said. “Offensively we need to find ways to move the football. That’s a good football team out there. They have a lot of weapons and a lot of speed, and our guys battled for four quarters.”
Contact Eric Barnes at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Copley 38, Cloverleaf 21
CLOVERLEAF 7 7 0 7 — 21
COPLEY 7 21 0 10 — 38
Cl — Devin Cunningham 98 kick return (Noah Berg kick), 11:46.
Co — Aregeros Turner 52 run (Josh Brebant kick), 10:26.
Co — Turner 52 run (Brebant kick), 11:31.
Co — Turner 11 run (Brebant kick), 8:49.
Co — Turner 27 run (Brebant kick), 1:22.
Cl — Cunningham 95 kick return (Berg kick), 1:09.
Co — Josh Brebant 47 field goal, 7:23.
Co — Turner 3 run (Brebant kick), 5:51.
Cl — Cunningham 57 run (Berg kick), 1:40.