CLEVELAND HEIGHTS - Oberlin lost two fumbles on its first three possessions in its season opener Saturday afternoon against Lutheran East.
Once the Phoenix held onto the ball, they found little trouble.
Oberlin scored on five of its next six possessions en route to a 56-0 rout of the Falcons.
The victory was sweet for Oberlin coach Fred Howery, whose team went 0-10 last year. The Phoenix last win came on Oct. 23, 2009, an 18-0 victory over Lutheran West.
"I'm going to keep coming back, because my team puts its heart and soul into this game," said Howery, whose team led 36-0 at halftime. "We have a senior-led team, and that's how it has to be for us."
Quarterback DaShaun Horton fumbled on Oberlin's first play, and after the Phoenix took a 2-0 lead by dropping Lutheran East punter Duray Hall in the end zone, Oberlin fumbled the ensuing free kick.
Yet after forcing a punt, Oberlin scored four touchdowns in its next 11 offensive plays: Horton and Jason Moore Jr. hooked up on a 35-yard touchdown pass; Kalif Townsel ran in from 12 yards; and Horton scored on 4- and 16-yard runs, respectively. Moore Jr. then added a 51-yard punt return for good measure.
Horton was promoted to starter after the incumbent, senior Melvin Medina, was injured last Friday in a preview game against Rhodes. Howery said a timetable for Medina's return was uncertain.
"We've practiced hard, but we weren't too happy with our performance (against Rhodes)," Horton said. "We can still get better, and have to keep playing as one."
The Phoenix defense stymied the Falcons, as Lutheran East lost yardage on 12 of its 32 first-half plays. Quarterback Da'Jon Olds was sacked eight times, a handful of which belonged to senior middle linebacker Drew Randleman. Lutheran East dresses 22 players, half of whom are freshmen.
And yet Howery said he was pleased, but there still is plenty on which to work: The Phoenix committed five turnovers in all, including two second-half fumbles.
"We have to get much better," Howery said. "Even on defense, we had some mistakes. We play McDonald (on Friday), and they're a state playoff team. We have to keep improving."
The Blue Devils were the fifth seed in the Division VI, Region 21 playoffs last season, and lost 29-0 on Friday to Springfield.
• ONE OF THE GUYS: Chawnte Johnson, a Falcon senior, saw action along the offensive line in the second half as Lutheran East's injuries mounted. Nothing unusual, right? Except Johnson, a senior, is a female. She held her own late, too, as Lutheran East mounted a late drive that fell short of the end zone.
Contact Joel Hammond at (440) 329-7135 or email@example.com.
Oberlin 56, Lutheran East 0
Oberlin 15 21 13 7 - 56
Lutheran East 0 0 0 0 - 0
O-Safety, sack Lutheran East punter in end zone
O-Jason Moore Jr. 35 pass from DaShaun Horton (kick failed)
O-Kalif Townsel 12 run (Josh Kocisis kick)
O-Horton 4 run (Sam Weiss kick)
O-Horton 16 run (Kocisis kick)
O-Moore Jr. 51 punt return (Weiss kick)
O-Kenneth Causby 8 run (kick failed)
O-Horton 1 run (Kocisis kick)
O-Michael Reinhold 7 run (Marvin Jackson kick)
First downs 8 10
Rushing 6 5
Passing 1 3
Penalty 1 2
Yards rushing 143 55
Yards passing 35 74
Total offense 178 129
Passes att./comp. 4/1 15/4
Intercepted by 3 1
Fumbles/lost 5/4 6/5
Penalties/yards 4/33 8/50
RUSHING - (O) Horton 7-26, Townsel 5-33, Jon Brown 3-6, Kenneth Causby 3-27, Demonte Taborn 3-11, Michael Reinhold 7-40. (LE) Austin Woodall 15-57, Da'Jon Olds 14-(-43), Darien Hambrick 4-(-9), Duray Hall 3-24, Chris Burris 1-0, Don Rashad 3-10, Robert Drake 4-16.
PASSING - (O) Horton 4-1-35-1-1. (LE) Olds 15-4-74-0-3.
RECEIVING - (O) Moore Jr. 1-35. (LE) Matthew Hardnick 2-36, Rashad 1-17, Drake 1-21.