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Twinsburg made some big plays in its Senior Night game on a short week, but gave up some big ones in a wild 38-36 league loss to Wadsworth.
For instance, Wadsworth scored eight points in just 11 seconds in a pivotal swing in the third quarter on the first of two safeties and a subsequent 69-yard kickoff return in the Suburban League National Conference game. The game took place Oct. 6 in a rare Thursday night contest.
However, none of the plays were bigger than a blocked punt for the second safety with 2:16 left in the game at Tiger Stadium.
Twinsburg had just given up a 55-yard touchdown pass to Craig Palidar, who caught the ball among three defenders to tie the game 36-36 with 3:19 left.
Looking to possibly hit a winning field goal or to force an extra period, Twinsburg took over on its 25 with 3:18 left.
Wadsworth stuffed an end-around for a loss of four yards and after an incomplete pass, a pass completion resulted in a three-yard loss to set up a Tiger punt.
Palidar burst through the Tiger front wall and stuffed Jalen Tucker's punt inside the 10. Palidar just missed recovering the ball in the corner of the end zone.
There was no TD, but those two points were the difference in the game.
Twinsburg missed on the onside kick attempt, and failed to get into field range on its final possession after the defense stopped Wadsworth on downs.
Twinsburg (1-6) fell to 1-3 in the league while the Grizzlies (4-3) moved to 3-1.
"This was a tough loss," said Tiger mentor Mike Bell. "It's just so frustrating.
"We had some big game situations and put ourselves in a position to win, but breakdowns at critical situations really hurt," added Bell.
The Tigers fixed their porous pass defense after allowing 253 yards passing in the first half alone. However, it wasn't enough.
"We want to shut them (Wadsworth) down, but we improved and then didn't execute as we gave up some points on special teams," said Bell.
Palidar, a 6-0, 192-pound wide receiver, killed the Tigers. He not only had the game winning safety, but set a school record with 214 receiving yards on 10 receptions. He had TD catches of 60, 24, and 55 yards.
In addition, Palidar had a two-point conversion catch.
Twinsburg sophomore quarterback Adam Van de Motter moved the ball a bit on the game's last drive, but was sacked twice and had his fourth-and-long pass broken up by Palidar.
"It was just a very tough loss and this is part of the growing process," said Bell.
As Tucker completed four passes on the first five plays from scrimmage, Twinsburg scored on the opening drive.
Faced with a fourth-and-3, Tucker reversed field and raced 17 yards for the first down to set up a one-yard TD plunge by junior Cam'Ron McClain.
Senior kicker Casey McCarthy made the extra point boot as he was 4-for-4 and also had a touchback on a kickoff. It was 7-0 with 9:31 left in the first.
On Wadsworth's first play from scrimmage, quarterback Joey Baughman hit Palidar on a slip-screen pass and he went 60 yards for the score, but the PAT was blocked and it was 7-6.
Twinsburg responded as Van de Motter hit sophomore wide receiver James Besett on a 3-yard TD pass in the corner to make it 14-6 at the 6:59 mark.
Despite the long TD pass, Wadsworth was held without a first down for the first 6:35 of the game by the Tiger defense.
Bell dodged a bullet when the holding flag washed out a long Palidar TD catch, but later in the drive, Twinsburg aided the Grizzlies with an offside penalty on fourth-and-2, and a pass interference call.
Baughman hit a wide open Palidar for a 24-yard TD on that drive. The two-point pass tied it 14-14 with 11:37 left in the second period.
Set up by an interception by standout sophomore linebacker Isaiah Savitt, the Tigers responded with a one-yard TD run by McClain (24 yards on 11 carries) to lead 21-14 with 8:28 left in the first half.
Savitt had a 34-yard return on the pick to set the Tigers up at the Wadsworth 15.
Wadsworth came back with a 12-play, 76-yard scoring drive that featured five first downs. Baughman had a 10-yard TD run to make it 21-21 with 4:33 left.
Thanks to a nifty side-step move by sophomore wide out Tre Radford on a 44-yard pass from Van de Motter, Twinsburg scored on the next drive.
Van de Motter tossed an 8-yard TD pass to Radford, who got his foot inbound deep in the end zone. That pushed the hosts to a 28-21 lead with 1:04 left in the first half.
A 50-yard Baughman pass play had Wadsworth threatening at the Tiger 20 in the waning seconds of the first half, but senior end Tim Edwards had a crucial sack to thwart the drive.
Momentum changed in the third stanza as Twinsburg was pinned deep and Grizzly Luke Clinton forced Tucker into an intentional grounding call in the end zone. The safety cut the lead to 28-23 at the 9:03 mark.
Wadsworth's Mitchell Blackburn took the ensuing kickoff 69 yards for a TD. The two-point pass failed, but Wadsworth led 29-28 with 8:52 left in the third.
Twinsburg's defense tightened up and thanks to a nice run-pass mix, the Tigers scored again on a 7-yard TD on a jet sweep run by senior Jared Eaton.
Besett then caught the two-point pass to put Twinsburg up 36-29 with 5:54 left in the game.
That's when Palidar went up and made a play in between three Tiger defenders on a 55-yard TD catch and run to make it 36-36 with 3:19 left.
After Tucker's punt was blocked, the onside kick attempted was tipped and then recovered by the Grizzlies at the Tiger 43 with 2:13 left.
Wadsworth's Kyle Arrowsmith then pinned the Tigers inside the 20 for the third time as Twinsburg started at their own 17 with 1:17 left.
Baughman was inserted late as a cornerback to defend Radford, but he still caught a pass from Van de Motter as did Besett on the final drive. On fourth down, it was Palidar who broke up the final pass.
"We just need to do our best to learn from this and move on," noted Bell, who plays a league game at Hudson Oct. 14.
In all, Baughman amassed 399 total yards and 4 TD's as he was 19-34 passing for 348 yards.
Van de Motter hit 13-23 passes for 157 yards and two TD's, plus had 32 yards rushing.
Tucker (78 total yards) was 5-7 passing for 48 yards and had two catches for 22 yards.
Radford had six catches for 106 yards, Besett had five for 50 yards, and Eaton added 57 total yards (29 rushing and 28 receiving).
Junior Kris Jones, who also played well on defense, added a catch as did sophomore tight end Max Brazie.
Leaders on defense were junior James Grammens, Savitt, and senior Josh Flask.