The Tallmadge football team hung tough for most of the night but ran into a buzz saw Oct. 12.
The Blue Devils fell short in a 42-21 loss 2017 Suburban League American Conference champion Barberton at Rudy Sharkey Stadium.
With the loss, Tallmadge fell to 4-4 overall and 2-2 in the American Conference. The Magics improved to 8-0 overall and 4-0 in the conference.
"We were down by only seven points more than halfway through the fourth quarter," Blue Devils head coach Alan Vanderink said. "We played very well, but we made our share of mistakes.
"Offensively, the kids executed the game plan but just didn’t make enough plays at times when we had good field position. We just didn’t capitalize when we needed to. We turned the ball over twice, which was also key.
"Defensively, I know we gave up 42 points, but it was probably one of our better performances we’ve had all year.
"We tackled well and we were physical. We just made a few mistakes at critical times and Barberton took advantage of them."
The Magics took a 6-0 first-quarter lead on a 52-yard touchdown run by Young.
Tallmadge took its only lead of the game, 7-6 after one quarter, when senior quarterback Sam Seeker completed a 63-yard touchdown pass to senior tight end Josh McGhee.
"It was a play-action pass," Vanderink said. "Barberton was on man coverage and Josh was able to separate himself. Sam made a good throw and Josh made a good catch."
The Magics took a 21-7 halftime lead on a pass play and a 4-yard touchdown run by Kyree Young.
Tallmadge pulled to within 21-14 on the last play of the third quarter on a 36-yard touchdown pass from Seeker to senior running back Richie Eyre.
"It was fourth and 15," Vanderink said. "Sam made a great throw and Richie made a great catch."
In the fourth quarter, Barberton stretched its lead back out to 14 points.
The Blue Devils pulled to within seven points again, 28-21, with 5 minutes, 31 seconds left when Seeker hit junior wide receiver Luke Thomas on a 31-yard touchdown pass.
"Luke was wide open," Vanderink said.
The Magics scored on the very next possession, a 17-yard run by Young, for a 35-21 lead. They put an exclamation point on their victory with an 89-yard touchdown run by Young with a little more than a minute to go.
Seeker was 13 of 26 for 256 yards but with two interceptions. He also ran the ball 13 times for 102 yards.
"Sam has been playing like that all season, especially for the last four or five games," Vanderink said. "He’s always one of the top players on the field. He has been doing everything."
Eyre and Thomas each had three receptions – Eyre for 70 yards, Thomas for 53 yards.
"Richie is always ready," Vanderink said. "He’s very talented. We ask a lot of him to play offense, defense and special teams. He makes a lot of plays.
"Luke is a tough kid. He just made the necessary plays. When his number is called, you know he’s going to be ready to make a play."
Defensively, senior linebacker Mike Yamokoski had nine tackles. Junior linebacker Jesse Kanatzar had seven tackles.
"Mike is always in the right spot," Vanderink said. "He’s always tuned in and is one of the most disciplined young men I’ve ever met.
"Jesse is one of the toughest kids we’ve got. He goes hard all the time. He’s a great practice player and is having a really good year."
Junior Ben Blankenship had five tackles, including one for a loss, and Thomas, doubling as a linebacker, totaled four tackles.
Tallmadge is scheduled to host Medina Highland Friday and Revere Oct. 26 in the regular-season finale on senior night.
Both American Conference games are set to begin at 7 p.m.