By Sean Duffy
MEDINA, OHIO– It is playoff time in Northeast Ohio, and the teams that have secured a postseason berth now look to take the next step on their quest towards a state championship.
It is time for coaches and players to focus in on the mantra of the late great Al Davis and “just win baby.” Our game of the week is a match up in Division III, Region 9 between the No. 8 seed Tallmadge Blue Devils (7-3) out of the Suburban League American Division, and the No. 2 seed Buckeye Bucks (10-0) champions of Stars Division in the Patriot Athletic League.
The contest pitted two teams predicated on running the ball and controlling the clock, and hard hitting defenses that have not given up much in the way of points all year. It was sure to be a great game in Medina County on a cold November Friday Night.
Tallmadge was first to get on the board as they started their opening drive from their 15-yard line. The Blue Devil offense has been led all year by senior running back Ty Shannon, and it was clear from the outset of this game that Shannon would continue to be the focal point.
The Blue Devils marched 85 yards and scored on a three-yard touchdown run by Shannon. Tallmadge was out to a 7-0 lead halfway through the first quarter.
Buckeye’s first offensive possession started on their own 36-yard line, but stalled at the Tallmadge 43-yard line, forcing a Bucks punt. Great defense has been a calling card all year for the Bucks. Tallmadge were reminded of that as the Buckeye defense forced a Blue Devils three and out on their next offensive possession. The first quarter ended with Tallmadge leading 7-0, but Buckeye was driving.
The Bucks offense has been led by their outstanding senior quarterback Adam Fauver. It was Fauver’s legs that got the Bucks on the board thanks to a five-yard TD run. A blocked extra point resulted in Tallmadge holding a 7-6 lead early in the second quarter.
After each team traded punts, Tallmadge got back on track thanks to their workhorse Shannon, gaining 60 of the 69 yds on the scoring drive. Shannon’s one-yard TD plunge gave the Blue Devils a 14-6 lead with 2:47 left in the half. Buckeye RB Justin Canedy fumbled the ball ball deep in Buckeye territory late in the half, setting Tallmadge up with an opportunity to extend their lead going into halftime. The Buckeye defense again showed up with a great effort forcing a turnover on downs. At the half Tallmadge led, 14-6.
Buckeye got the ball to start the second half and marched 80 yards down the field, again led by Fauver who’s 28-yard run and 15-yard pass to Junior WR Anthony Watkins got the ball in the red zone for the Bucks.
Fauver scored his second rushing touchdown of the night again from five yards out. A successful two-point conversion would make the score 14-14 early in the third quarter.
Buckeye’s defense forced Tallmadge to punt on its first offensive possession of the second half. Buckeye again was marching towards the end zone, getting all the way down to the Tallmadge 24-yard line. The Blue Devils defense allowed the Bucks to proceed no further as they stopped the Bucks on fourth down as the third frame ended all tied 14-14.
Tallmadge took over on their own 24-yard line to start the fourth quarter. Buckeye’s defense was able to force a fourth and seven, but Tallmadge was able to extend the drive thanks to a successful fake punt.
Shannon would haunt the Bucks Defense once again, ripping off a fantastic 72-yard run only to be stopped four yards from the end zone. Shannon scored on the next play, and Tallmadge took a 21-14 lead with 10:26 left in the game.
The Blue Devils added another TD to put the game out of reach, thanks to a one-yard touchdown plunge from fullback Mike Yamokoski, 28-14. The Bucks attempt and scoring quickly was thwarted thanks to another fumble from Canedy. #8 Tallmadge upsets #2 Buckeye 27-14.
Buckeye’s season ends with yet another opening round playoff loss, the bucks have yet to win a playoff game. The Bucks end the season 10-1, and were led by Fauver’s two touchdowns.
Tallmadge was led by player of the game, Shannon, and his three rushing touchdowns and over 200 yards of offense. The Blue Devils move on to the Division IIIm Region 9 semifinals where they will travel to take on St Vincent-St Mary.
Congratulations to both teams on a well played game, and check out highlights from the game below.
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