TALLMADGE — An opportunistic defense gave Wadsworth’s football team a chance, but the Grizzlies couldn’t find the winning combination Friday in a 19-14 Suburban League loss to Tallmadge.
Blue Devils quarterback Anthony Gotto did.
Wadsworth (5-4, 3-2) forced five turnovers in the first half, but Gotto made the play of the night when he connected with junior Jim Aumont on fourth-and-6 with 3:45 to play. The wide-open Aumont outran the defense for a 46-yard touchdown that turned out to be the game-winner.
Tallmadge (7-2, 5-1) is now tied for the SL lead after Nordonia’s 22-20 loss to Highland.
“Our kids battled. We played hard,” Wadsworth coach Greg Dennison said. “In the fourth quarter, we were there with a chance to win. You’ve got to give them credit, though. They made a play when they had to make one.”
The Grizzlies still held a 14-13 lead after Gotto scored from 19 yards out late in the third quarter because Tallmadge kicker Kody Edwards slipped on the extra-point attempt.
It was far from Gotto’s finest night, as Wadsworth’s Ryan Looser (2) and Eric Yetzer picked off the senior and forced him to fumble once. Gotto was 17-for-29 passing for 206 yards and a touchdown and ran nine times for 56 yards.
But Wadsworth was only able to capitalize on one of the turnovers — a 3-yard run by junior running back Scott Campbell.
“Defensively, we got some turnovers,” Dennison said. “We didn’t control the line of scrimmage on offense as much as we’d have liked to, but we did at times.”
The play of the game for Wadsworth came on the opening drive of the second half. Sophomore quarterback Adam Dennison handed to Looser on a jet sweep. Looser fumbled the ball, but it bounced off the grass right back into his arms like a point guard dribbling down the court, and the 165-pound junior ran 58 yards for a touchdown that gave Wadsworth a 14-7 lead.
Junior tailback Martice Jackson led the way for the Grizzlies, gaining 56 yards on 11 carries.
The Grizzlies had a chance to win late. After Tallmadge took the 19-14 lead, Wadsworth started at its own 33-yard line. With 2:34 remaining and Wadsworth staring at a fourth-and-8 from its own 35, Greg Dennison opted to go for it rather than punt.
A false start moved Wadsworth back 5 yards and the Grizzlies were unable to convert.
“That was the best chance we had to keep the ball and win the game,” Dennison said of the decision to go for it. “I mean, (Tallmadge) is so good offensively we were afraid if we punt it, we might not get it back.”
Contact Eric Barnes at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Tallmadge 19, Wadsworth 14
WADSWORTH 0 7 7 0 — 14
TALLMADGE 7 0 6 6 — 19
T — Zach Skraba 25 run (Kody Edwards kick), 8:55.
W — Scott Campbell 3 run (Luis Escudero kick), 7:41.
W — Ryan Looser 58 run (Escudero kick), 10:38.
T — Anthony Gotto 19 run (kick failed), 4:05.
T — Jim Aumont 46 pass from Gotto (pass failed), 3:45.