RICHFIELD — His face turned red and teardrops gently fell down his cheeks.
Tallmadge second-year head football coach Alan Vanderink couldn't hide his emotions.
"They cared," he said. "I'm proud of them because they cared."
Unfortunately for the Blue Devils, they also had feelings of dismay.
That's because Tallmadge's stunning turnaround season is over.
The seventh-seeded Blue Devils lost to sixth-seeded Akron St. Vincent-St. Mary 28-7.
The Division III, Region 9 semifinal game took place Friday evening at Revere High School's Joseph F. Pappano Stadium in Richfield.
With the loss, Tallmadge finished 8-4. The Blue Devils reached the playoffs for the first time since 2014. Tallmadge, which featured 16 seniors, finished 2-8 in 2015 and 2016.
"We turned things around because of our seniors," Vanderink said. "They bought in to what we were doing. We had a great senior class."
For awhile, the Blue Devils stayed with the talented and fast Irish.
Thanks mainly to its powerful offensive line and the running of senior Ty Shannon, Tallmadge was very much in the game for the first three quarters.
However, SVSM took control with 14 unanswered points in the fourth quarter. In fact, the Irish (8-4) scored 28 unanswered points after the Blue Devils scored on their first possession.
"We came here expecting to win," Vanderink said. "We didn't do that, so it's disappointing."
Tallmadge looked razor sharp early in the game.
The Blue Devils marched 68 yards in nine plays to take the early lead on the first possession of the game.
All nine of those plays took place on the ground as Shannon carried the ball five times for 31 yards on the possession.
Junior quarterback Sam Seeker concluded the drive when he went back to pass, saw a hole and raced toward the end zone untouched for a 16-yard touchdown run. Junior kicker Garrett Ansley added the extra point to give the Blue Devils a 7-0 advantage a little more than four minutes into the game.
SVSM answered on the following possession.
The Irish put together an 11-play, 70-yard scoring drive that ate up more than five minutes off the clock.
The main catalyst for SVSM was speedy sophomore running back Terrance Keyes.
If Keyes found a hole, regardless of how tiny it was, he managed to use his electric speed to get big yardage.
On the Irish's first possession, Keyes ran for 42 yards on seven touches.
Sophomore quarterback Luke Lindsay also completed a pair of 12-yard passes to senior wide receiver Scott Walter during the possession.
SVSM got on the board when Lindsay plunged into the end zone from a yard away. Freshman kicker Luke Dobson added the first of his four point-after tries to tie the game 7-7 with 2:33 left in the first quarter.
Tallmadge had some chances to put more points on the board. Unfortunately, those chances were wasted.
The Blue Devils had one drive end, thanks to an interception, and also had field goal tries of 36 and 33 yards fall short.
The Irish took the lead for good with less than five minutes left in the first half.
SVSM (9-3) got good field position and moved 55 yards in six plays.
After a holding penalty, the Irish took a 14-7 lead when Keyes burst toward the right side and was off to the races for a 40-yard TD run.
SVSM took control of the game with a 13-play, 80-yard scoring drive that used up more than six minutes off the clock.
The big play of the possession was a 36-yard pass from Lindsay to Walter on third-and-13.
Tallmadge also was called for a facemask on the play which moved the Irish to the Blue Devils' 13-yard line.
Tallmadge's defense nearly escaped unscathed.
But the Irish made it 21-7 when Lindsay completed a 5-yard TD pass to sophomore wide receiver Jalen Ross on fourth down.
Keyes added a 6-yard TD with a little less than seven minutes remaining for the final points of the game.
SVSM outgained the Blue Devils 304-186, including 198-182 advantage on the ground.
Keyes finished with a game-high 144 yards in 20 attempts and Shannon had 122 yards on 28 carries. Walter led the Irish's receiving corps with six catches for 86 yards.
Although he was emotional, Vanderink certainly had nothing but praise for his players, who got Tallmadge back to its winning ways after some massive struggles the previous two years.
"We turned it around," Vanderink said. "I love them."