Tallmadge football continues to mature with win over Roosevelt

Eric Clutter
Correspondent
Tallmadge's Seth Yacobucci dives into in the end zone ahead of Kent Roosevelt's Dillinger Sherwood during the Blue Deviles' 26-16 win at Roosevelt Oct. 2.

A young Tallmadge team took another step forward Oct. 2.

Sophomore quarterback Ty Hurst threw a pair of touchdown passes, including the eventual game-winning 7-yard strike to Mason Dexter late in the third quarter. The Blue Devils used a strong second half to defeat Kent Roosevelt 26-16 at Kent in a Suburban League American Division contest.

Tallmadge junior running back Cole Thomas complemented the Blue Devils' passing attack with 124 yards on the ground, including a 9-yard TD run on the opening drive of the second half that tied things at 16-apiece.

Winning for the second Friday in a row, Tallmadge now stands at 2-3 overall and 1-2 in American Division competition. The Blue Devils will take on Dover next week in a Division III playoff game.

The Blue Devils used a little trickery on fourth down to set up the tie-breaking drive.

Tallmadge's Cole Thomas carries the ball in front of Kent Roosevelt's Drew Samaco during the Blue Devils' 26-16 win at Roosevelt Oct. 2

Staring at a fourth-and-16 from the Roosevelt 41-yard line, Tallmadge coach Mike Hay and his staff dialed up a reverse which saw Hurst hand off to Dexter, who flipped the ball to backup signal-caller Ty Hederson. Hederson then tossed a 34-yard strike to Seth Yacobucci, who was taken down at the 7.

"We took shots when they were there," said Hay. "Obviously Yacobucci is one heck of a sophomore receiver. He is pretty special."

On the next snap, Hurst hit Dexter just inside the goal line with 43 ticks remaining in the period.

Tallmadge's Ty Hederson (12) snags an interception as  Caiden McCullough turns to block during the Blue Devils' 26-16 win at Kent Roosevelt Oct. 2.

"We just saw the corner playing off, and we just decided to run a comeback (route) and it worked," said Dexter. "We are a really young team and it is a good win. Hopefully it translates into the playoffs and next year and the rest of this season."

Hay said afterwards that he wanted his team to set the tone in the second half.

"We talked at halftime about being a much more physical team and trying to play with more downhill physicality, trying to play the game the way we wanted to play, trying to dictate how we want to play the second half," he said. "We challenged our line and our backs to run downhill. Our line had a great half, and Thomas made a bunch of good runs." 

Roosevelt fell to 0-2 on the campaign and will host University School in a Division II matchup.

The Rough Riders hurt themselves with 10 penalties, including a pair that negated touchdowns. Quarterback Kristian Daetwyler also threw two interceptions.

Roosevelt second-year coach Alan Vanderink was succinct in his postgame analysis.

"We got to get better," he said. "Got to coach better. Got to play better. Got to be more disciplined. Tallmadge executed, and we just didn't. Give them credit, and we have work to do."

Roosevelt did play well enough during stretches of the first half to take a 16-7 lead midway through the second frame.

Daetwyler hit senior Ty Bates on a 57-yard go route down the near sideline for a score less than three minutes into the game to give the hosts an instant 7-0 lead.

Hurst hit Yacobucci with an 11-yard TD toss on Tallmadge's first offensive possession to level the count 7-7.

The Rough Riders appeared to answer with a 7 on their next series; however, Daetwyler's 3-yard TD jaunt around the left side on fourth down was nullified by a false start. That forced Roosevelt to settle for a Blake Green 25-yard field goal to make the score 10-7.

Early in the second quarter with the score still the same, an offensive interference penalty wiped out a 31-yard TD pass. And on the following snap Tallmadge's Nate Amato picked off Daetwyler.

On the next play, though, Tallmadge returned the favor with Hurst getting picked off by Roosevelt's Jared Dunfee just as one of the junior linebacker's teammates delivered a hard shot on Hurst, forcing the errant throw.

Setting up show at the Blue Devils 34, Roosevelt needed just three plays to get in the end zone. Junior Quinten Upshaw did the honors with a 5-yard burst with 6:27 showing on the clock.

However, the PAT failed, keeping the score at 16-7 and the Rough Riders' offense was done for the night.

Reece Parry booted a 30-yard field goal in the final seconds of the half to give the Blue Devils some momentum going to the break, down just 16-10.

Parry then added a 25-yard kick with 64 seconds left in the game to put the icing on the cake.

"I'm proud of our kids," said Hay. "We are trying to learn how to win and hopefully we are headed that way. When you start this many young teams coming off a 1-9 season and losing our first three games of the season — and we felt we could have a couple of them — it's nice to see them hold their heads high and keep playing through adversity and learning how to be winners."