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Blue Devils Sports

Ravens stumble in season opener during 26-3 loss to Tallmadge

Posted Saturday, August 31, 2013 by Frank Aceto/Record Publishing Co Sports
 

Ravens stumble in season opener during 26-3 loss to Tallmadge

By Frank Aceto | Record Publishing Co.Published:

By Frank Aceto | Record Publishing

Just about everything worked out well for the Tallmadge Blue Devils in their season debut against Ravenna Friday night.

And fortunately, they had enough bodies to finish the game.

The Blue Devils got their 2013 season on the right track with a convincing 26-3 victory over Ravenna at Tallmadge Middle School's Rossiaky Stadium.

Despite some shaky special teams play, Tallmadge's defense made the critical plays when it needed them.

And the offense, despite having a number of new players getting their first varsity starts, got a few big plays to help the Blue Devils end a two-game losing streak to the Ravens.

But not everything went smoothly for Tallmadge. Several players from both teams went down with cramps during the warm, humid night.

"It's frustrating," Blue Devils head coach Joe Vassalotti said. "My biggest fear coming in was that it would be a hot, humid night and it was."

The Ravens also had a number of players suffer from cramps. But Ravenna had plenty of other issues.

Although the Ravens got 35- and 46-yard kickoff returns and had good field position for much of the night, they couldn't put any points on the board.

And the worst news is that senior defensive lineman Josh Perry left the game with a knee injury.

"It looks like he has an MCL and might be done for the year," Ravenna head coach Joe Lunardi said. "He's a captain and it's a huge loss."

Lunardi also was frustrated by his team's cramp issue, which caused many stoppages during the game.

"We started hydrating on Wednesday," Lunardi said. "We tried to get them to eat salty foods so they could retain water. I think the weather had something to do with it."

Tallmadge put three points on the scoreboard on its first drive of the game.

The Blue Devils used a 13-play drive that took nearly eight minutes off the clock. Justin Stevenor concluded the drive with a 31-yard field goal.

The Blue Devils made it 10-0 with 4:16 remaining in the first half with an eight-play, 68-yard drive. Junior quarterback Joseph Vassalotti, making his first varsity start behind center, got the Blue Devils in the red zone with a 34-yard run. Vassalotti eventually scored on a 1-yard plunge.

Tallmadge got a critical stop on the next possession when junior linebacker Jacob Mertus sacked Ravens quarterback Warren Bradley on fourth down.

The Blue Devils then went back to work at their own 30 and promptly reached the end zone again less than a minute later when Vassalotti completed a 62-yard touchdown pass to wide receiver Jimmy Aumont with 52 seconds left. The point after try failed, but Tallmadge led 16-0.

Stevenor added another 34-yard field goal early in the fourth quarter after the Blue Devils got good field position, thanks to a blocked punt.

Ravenna finally got on the board early in the fourth quarter with a 91-yard drive. Ben Morgan concluded the possession with a 25-yard field goal. The key play was a 29-yard run by quarterback Warren Bradley that moved the Ravens from Tallmadge's 45-yard line to the 16.

Davis Moore added a 1-yard TD plunge to conclude the scoring late in the fourth quarter.

While Tallmadge was hit hard by graduation, Ravenna was hit even worse.

The Ravens lost 20 seniors from a year ago and 21 from the previous year. But Lunardi believes his young team has what it takes to bounce back.

"A lot of young kids got experience," he said. "Sometimes that's good; sometimes, that's not so good. We have Aurora and Louisville coming up on the schedule. We don't play any slouches."

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