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Lions run to victory over Cardinals
Cleveland rushing attack picks up in win

The Cleveland Lions rebounded from their disappointing loss to the Lima Warriors in the season opener, defeating the Cleveland Cardinals 28-18 Saturday night at John Marshall High School. In nearly 90 degree heat, the Lions offense finally put the pieces together for a solid overall performance.

Second year running back Kevin Sitgraves paced the offense with 114 yards and a touchdown, headlining a big day by the Lions' rushing attack. Chip McClain added 65 yards and a score on the ground as the Lions totaled 182 yards rushing and over six yards per attempt.

The Lions jumped out to an early lead with a 1-yard touchdown run by McClain that pushed the lead to 7-0. The Cardinals quickly responded, however, scoring a touchdown of their own to narrow the deficit. Following two penalties, the long PAT attempt sailed wide right and the Lions held on to a 7-6 lead.

Following an interception by Lions' cornerback Marcus Young, the Lions again hit paydirt on a fade pattern to the back of the endzone from quarterback Jon Hunek to wideout Antonio Humphrey. Dave Talenda's extra point extended the lead to 14-12 midway through the second stanza.

Again the Cardinals fought back, taking advantage of some miscues in the Lions' secondary. A short pass play from quarterback Damien Ivory to Larry Stover resulted in a 43-yard touchdown following a series of missed tackles by Lions defenders. The Cardinals 2-point conversion attempt was snuffed out, leaving the score 14-12 at the intermission.

Cleveland again extended their lead in the second half, as Albert Wilhelmy, filling in for Jon Hunek, hit Vernell Jackson on a slant pattern for a 5-yard touchdown. The PAT pushed the lead back to 21-12 midway through the third quarter. Kevin Sitgraves then gave the Lions a more comfortable cushion, as his touchdown run late in the third pushed the lead to 16 points.

A fourth quarter touchdown by the Cardinals was too little too late, as the Lions held on for a hard-fought 10-point victory.

Cleveland recorded 315 yards of total offense paced by the running game. The passing game was also solid, as four receivers caught passes. Tight end Mike Parris hauled in a team-high five passes for 67 yards while both Jackson and Humphrey each caught touchdown strikes.

The Cardinals were paced by quarterback Damien Ivory, who finished his terrific evening 19-27 for 287 yards and three touchdowns. Larry Stover had a game-high six receptions for 111 yards and two scores, while Jason Darwish and Philip Weeden also hauled in six passes each.

The Lions return to action next Saturday, July 14th, as they travel to the Keystone State to square off with the Pittsburgh Colts. Game time is 4pm at Robert Morris University.


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