By Doug Chapin
CORTLAND — In the end, Lakeview High’s senior running back Te Elias was the difference — and then some.
But Friday’s 28-27 road loss to the Bulldogs was a step in the right direction for the Campbell Memorial Red Devils, in their third season under coach Jeff Bayuk.
Elias gained 240 yards on 20 carries and had touchdown runs of 53, 30 and 38 yards. Last week, Elias gained 211 yards in a win over Struthers and had four scoring plays of 30 yards or more for the Bulldogs
“You’ve got to give credit to Elias, he’s a great runner,” Bayuk said. “I don’t want to take anything away from him, but we’ve got to make the plays when we are there in position and a couple of times we didn’t do that.
“Two good football teams played their butts off tonight and it came out a one-point difference,” Bayuk said. “We are very proud of our program right now to be able to play with a program like Lakeview.”
Bayuk’s Campbell teams have posted 1-9 and 3-7 records as the Devils attempt to rebound from a winless season in 2006.
“We’re not happy, we wanted to win the game,” Bayuk said. “We’ve come too far to take losses and say it’s OK.
“It’s not OK, but we know that we’re getting better. We know we’re a good football team and we know we’re going to win a lot of games this year.”
In a hard-fought game on a warm night, Elias saved his best for last, recording gains of 11, 12, 38 and 31 yards on his four fourth-quarter carries.
The 38-yard scoring burst, one play after a fumble recovery by Lakeview’s Josh Franks, tied the game at 27 with 5:10 remaining. Clint Hess converted his fourth straight point after to decide the contest.
“Te is a special kid,” Lakeview coach Tom Pavlansky said. “He worked really hard in the offseason and created an opportunity for himself and he has taken advantage of it.
“He works his tail off and is a great example for all our young kids. He’s a special, special player.”
Both offenses were outstanding. Campbell (1-1) totaled 396 yards from scrimmage and Lakeview (2-0) had 293.
Junior quarterback Lester Hughes connected on 17 of 23 attempts for 201 yards, including 10 for 150 yards to fellow junior Richard Bledsoe. Hughes also ran for 63 yards on 13 carries in support of workhorse back Darrio Bivens who carried 21 times for 106 yards.
“Lester Hughes is a big-time Division I prospect,” Bayuk said. “He really has all the tools. We need to do a little bit better protecting him and getting open on some of the routes, but even when there is nothing there he makes something out of nothing. He’s a great kid and a hard worker
Trailing 21-14 in the third quarter, Campbell put together two straight scoring drives to take a 27-21 lead.
The Devils covered 80 yards in 10 plays with Hughes scrambling in from 16 yards out on a third-and-11 situation.
Senior defensive back Chris Copeland, who also had an interception, recovered a fumble at the Lakeview 43, setting up another 10-play scoring drive. The possession featured third down conversions on the ground by both Bivens and Hughes, and a 28-yard bomb from Hughes to Bledsoe.
Sophomore Jales Hughes scored the TD from two yards out, but Lakeview got penetration and blocked the extra point try by Alex Sudocov who had made his first three kicks.
Campbell’s defense twice forced Lakeview to punt and the Devils were trying to work the clock, but Franks, a senior linebacker, came up with his fumble recovery to set up the final TD run by Elias.
“I can’t say enough about our kids in the second half,” Pavlansky said. “We faced adversity for the first time and bounced back. We’ve got a lot of young football players and we beat a good football team tonight.”
The Hughes-to-Bledsoe connection is a weapon the Red Devils will continue to exploit.
“It’s been a very potent combination for us in our passing scrimmages,” Bayuk said. “It’s been a potent combination in our two scrimmages and our first two games. They are both great weapons.”