May 28, 2016

Intermittent clouds

Colts see chances short-circuited

WESTFIELD TWP. — Like the lights at Gene Clark Stadium, every time there was a flicker of hope for Cloverleaf’s football team, something short-circuited.

In a game where the start of the second half was momentarily delayed when the entire bank of lights on Tallmadge’s sideline went out, the Colts shined bright at times and were left in the dark at others, the end result being a 24-17 Suburban League defeat Friday night.

Losers of five straight, the Colts (2-5, 0-4) gave the SL co-leading Blue Devils (7-0, 4-0) all they wanted, only to make key mistakes at key times.

“We have a tendency to have that breakdown,” Cloverleaf coach Doug Haas said. “That reflects on all 11 guys on the field.”

Though solid much of the night, at crucial times it looked like the Colts were playing with only nine or 10 defenders. Tallmadge tailback Tyrin Williams rushed for 258 yards on 25 carries, including runs of 15, 16, 21, 25, 59 and 62 yards.

“That was the best blocking game we’ve had all season,” Williams said. “The holes were really big. You could drive a truck through them.”

Williams’ first big run, the 59-yarder, came one play after a 54-yard Sean Mohney punt had pinned the Blue Devils at their own 3. It eventually led to a 24-yard Mitch Heath field goal that put Tallmadge up 10-3 with 4:21 left in the first half.

Williams’ 62-yarder put the ball on the Cloverleaf 2, setting up a TD run by Dylan Getz that gave the Blue Devils a 17-10 lead midway through the fourth quarter.

His lone score, a 16-yarder, made it 24-10 with 4:48 to go and all but assured Tallmadge coach Joe Vassalotti of his 100th career victory.

“He’s got good vision and good cutbacks,” Haas said. “Our aggressiveness probably cost us a couple of times on those long runs, but he earned the majority of those.”

Offensively, the Colts racked up 18 first downs and got another superb all-around performance from quarterback Mohney, who was 14-for-27 passing for 129 yards and rushed nine times for 80 yards.

Mohney also hit two extra points, a 32-yard field goal, came up just short on a 50-yard attempt, twice kicked off for touchbacks and punted six times for a 42-yard average. In addition to pinning Tallmadge at its own 3 on one punt, he would have had the Blue Devils on their own 1-foot line, but a Cloverleaf player put his foot in the end zone while downing the ball.

Mohney’s lone mistake, however, was costly. One play after Tallmadge went up 17-10, the senior was intercepted by Steve McAninch at the Cloverleaf 28. Three plays later, the Blue Devils led 24-10.

“One mistake proved to be a costly mistake,” Haas said. “But Sean, all night with the exception of that one play, really managed and ran the offense very well.”

First with a 43-yard run and then with a 4-yard TD pass to Robby Buckwald, Mohney gave the Colts a chance by taking them 65 yards in 40 seconds to make it a 24-17 game with 4:08 to go.

An onside kick attempt failed, however, and Cloverleaf never got the ball back.

“We made steps in the right direction,” Haas said. “Our kids really played hard for 48 minutes.”

Down 3-0, the Blue Devils got their first touchdown, a 3-yard run by McAninch, three plays after Anthony Gotto (10-for-22, 127 yards) hit Andrew Bonnette (6 catches, 68 yards) for 38 yards on third-and-15. They then made it 10-3 on Heath’s short field goal.

The Colts tied things on their second possession of the third period. Buckwald hit Derek Daubenmore (6 catches, 92 yards) for 34 yards on a trick play to start things. Trevor Morrison (14 carries, 43 yards), who left the game with a knee injury after making a great hit on the ensuing kickoff, capped the drive with a 1-yard TD plunge.

Cameron O’Rourke, Grant Vujanov, Kyle Jenkin, Brian Livingstone and the rest of the Cloverleaf defense then got the ball back on downs at midfield, but Vujanov lost a fumble while fighting for extra yardage on first down at the Tallmadge 34.

Still tied at 10, the Colts got the ball back again at their own 32, but couldn’t pick up a first down.

“We’re like a shoelace away from breaking a long run,” Haas said. “That’s been our struggle. We haven’t been able to break a big play. It forces us to be consistent on both sides of the ball, and that’s hard to do for any team.”

Contact Rick Noland at (330) 721-4061 or 24, Cloverleaf 17
TALLMADGE 7 3 0 14 — 24
CLOVERLEAF 3 0 7 7 — 17
C — Sean Mohney 32 field goal, 7:14.
T — Steve McAninch 3 run (Mitch Heath kick), 1:06.
T — Heath 24 field goal, 4:21.
C — Trevor Morrison 1 run (Mohney kick), 8:02.
T — Dylan Getz 2 run (Heath kick), 6:19.
T — Tyrin Williams 16 run (Heath kick), 4:48.
C — Robby Buckwald 4 pass from Mohney (Mohney kick), 4:08.

Rick Noland About Rick Noland

Rick Noland is the Cavs beat writer for The Gazette and the author of "Over Time," a compilation of stories he's written in more than 30 years as a journalist. He can be reached at 330-721-4061 or Like him on Facebook and follow him on Twitter.