WADSWORTH — With the game scoreless entering the fourth quarter, the optimist would say it was a defensive dogfight. In reality, the lack of scoring was due to two offenses that couldn’t make the big play.
The first three quarters between the Wadsworth and Tallmadge football teams left little to brag about, but, as any coach would say, “a win is a win,” no matter how ugly the game was.
That’s probably what Wadsworth’s Greg Dennison was thinking after a 13-6 Suburban League home win over Tallmadge on Friday.
With just one game remaining in the regular season and the playoffs looming, the Grizzlies (8-1, 5-1) would have liked a little more firepower.
The first score came at 8:28, when quarterback Adam Dennison (5-for-7, 32 yards) capped a nine-play drive with a 1-yard sneak. Arthur Castro made it 7-0 with a successful point-after kick.
Running back Martice Jackson was the workhorse on the drive, carrying six times for 60 yards, including a 12-yard scamper that placed the ball at the 1. The talented back finished with 155 yards on 30 carries, with 130 of those yards coming in the second half.
The four-year starter had a few words of encouragement for his offensive linemen before the crucial scoring drive.
“I talked to them and said, ‘This is where we go from a good team to a great team,”’ Jackson said. “We’re a running team, nothing special. We wear teams down and in the fourth quarter it opens up.”
After being stagnant all night, Tallmadge (5-4, 3-3) responded with a three-play, 74-yard scoring drive. Running back Bobby Clark (17 carries, 59 yards) broke free for an 18-yard rumble to make it a 7-6 game at 6:14.
What followed was the key play of the game, as Wadsworth linebacker Nick Winkler blocked the extra point.
“I knew were only up one, so I needed to block it,” Winkler said. “I got off fast and went gap. I just laid out and got it, but I don’t know what part of my body blocked it.”
The play elevated the appreciation Jackson had for his teammate to superhero status.
“I’ve never seen anybody play as hard as him,” Jackson said. “In my eyes, he’s Superman.”
Following stalled possessions by both teams, Wadsworth turned a turnover-on-downs by Tallmadge into a 25-yard scoring run by Jackson with 1:39 remaining. However, the point-after was wide right to keep it a one-possession game at 13-6.
The Blue Devils fizzled after a failed fourth-down conversion. Dennison took a couple of knees from that point to ice the win.
“For us, them scoring quick then missing the kick was a best-case scenario,” Tallmadge coach Joe Vassalotti said. “But we just couldn’t make plays when we had to.”
The teams combined for just three first downs (Wadsworth 1) and 103 yards in the first half. Tallmadge accrued 40 yards on five penalties, while the Grizzlies totaled 75 yards.
Wadsworth’s defense recorded three sacks. Both teams fumbled once, with the Grizzlies losing their drop.
“We knew it would be like this tonight, but our kids our resilient and stayed positive,” Greg Dennison said. “They stepped up when they had to.”
Contact Coleman at sports@medina-gazette.
Wadsworth 13, Tallmadge 6
WADSWORTH 0 0 0 13 — 13
TALLMADGE 0 0 0 6 — 6
W — Adam Dennison 1 run (Arthur Castro kick), 8:28.
T — Bobby Clark 18 run (Kick blocked), 6:14.
W — Martice Jackson 25 run (kick failed), 1:39.