by Frank Aceto
Associate Sports Editor
Tallmadge -- The previous week was a small stepping stone.
Week two proved to be a valuable learning experience.
One way or another, the Tallmadge football team had some things to correct heading into week three.
The Blue Devils fell to 1-1 on the season after losing to Akron Ellet 30-14 Sept. 2 at Thomas Rossiaky Stadium.
With the win, the Orangemen improved to 2-0.
Just when it gained all the momentum, Tallmadge fell apart.
The Blue Devils trailed throughout the evening, but they rallied just when things looked bleak.
Unfortunately for Tallmadge, Ellet took care of business when it mattered most.
"It's easy to have fun when you win," Blue Devils' first-year head coach Alan Vanderink said. "When you lose, that's when you have a true test of character. They kept fighting. We just have to continue to get better."
Leading 9-0 early in the fourth quarter, the Orangemen appeared to have things under control when senior tailback Marquise Bridges moved the ball to Tallmadge's 41-yard line with a six-yard carry on fourth and 1.
But that's when the Blue Devils seemed to have Ellet right where they wanted it.
On the very next play, Orangemen senior quarterback Garrett Haverstick's long pass was picked off by Tallmadge senior defensive back Derek Teeling.
As a result of the interception and a 15-yard personal-foul penalty, the Blue Devils had the ball at the Ellet 40.
"Our offensive coordinator, Chuck Shuman, has been with me for 36 years," Ellet head coach Joe Yost said. "He's not in the Hall of Fame for nothing. It was a play with different options and Garrett thought it was the best option. I trust him because no one works harder than Garrett."
Tallmadge immediately went to work after the turnover.
After a three-yard loss on first down, sophomore quarterback Sam Seeker completed a 43-yard touchdown pass to junior running back Ty Shannon.
Sophomore kicker Garrett Ansley added the extra point and just like that, the Blue Devils' deficit was just a deuce (9-7) with 10:37 left.
However, Ellet came roaring back by putting together a 10-play, 77-yard scoring drive that lasted nearly four minutes on the next possession.
Bridges, who led all rushers with 167 yards on 28 carries, capped the drive with a 5-yard touchdown run.
Senior kicker Jaret Jones converted the all-important point after try to make it a two-score game (16-7) with 6:36 left.
However, the Blue Devils refused to go away.
Despite being pinned inside its 20, Tallmadge responded with a 5-play, 82-yard drive that took less than 90 seconds to complete.
The possession, which included a 15-yard pass-interference penalty in the Blue Devils' favor, concluded with a 25-yard TD pass from Seeker to Shannon, who caught the ball in the middle of the field and scampered into the end zone untouched. That play made it 16-14 with 5:09 left.
But Tallmadge's defense couldn't stop the Orangemen down the stretch.
Ellet made it a two-score game again when Haverstick completed a screen pass to senior flanker Cameron Brake, who caught the ball on the left side of the field.
Brake cut back toward the middle and outran everyone to the end zone for a 50-yard touchdown.
The Orangemen defense put the game away on the next possession.
After taking two sacks, Seeker's third-down pass was intercepted by junior defensive back Caleb Schramm, who returned it 21 yards for a score to make it 30-14.
"They have a very good team with a lot of really good athletes," Vanderink said of Ellet.
Prior to the second-half theatrics, the Blue Devils had some success moving the ball.
Although Tallmadge picked up some first downs, the Blue Devils had promising drives come to abrupt halts due to penalties and negative-yardage plays.
Ellet got its first score on defense.
After Haverstick punted the ball to the Tallmadge 4, things took a turn for the worst for the Blue Devils.
On a second-and-9 play from its own 5, a shotgun snap went out of the end zone. As a result, the Orangemen were awarded two points for a safety.
Tallmadge then had to drop kick from its own 20 and after a 15-yard return by tight end Jonah Carter, Ellet had the ball at the 50.
From there, the Orangemen put together a 9-play, 50-yard scoring drive.
Bridges did most of the work as he carried the ball eight times for 48 yards, including a 1-yard touchdown run.
The big play of the drive was a quarterback sneak on fourth down by Haverstick that put the ball at the Blue Devil 6.
Haverstick completed 9-of-14 passes for 105 yards, while Seeker connected on 7-of-17 passes for 132 yards. Seeker also threw two interceptions and was sacked seven times.
"We have to coach a lot better," Vanderink said. "The sacks are a concern."
Ellet outgained Tallmadge 297-236. Shannon had six receptions for 124 yards and also was the Blue Devils' leading rusher with 51 yards in 15 attempts.
Yost, who has been the Orangemen's head coach for 38 years, was impressed with his counterpart on the sidelines.
"He's doing a fantastic job," Yost said of Vanderink. "They are doing some neat things on offense and defense. They got a find with him."
Tallmadge was scheduled to entertain Akron Garfield Sept. 9. Results were not available at press time.
The Blue Devils are set to visit New Philadelphia Sept. 16 at 7 p.m.