Tiger defense withstands squeeze 6-0
Pressure mounts from many offensive mistakes
By CHUCK HESS, JR.
Independent Sports Editor
For awhile Friday night, the Massillon Tiger defense was under more pressure than an orange in a juicer, but was equal to the task. Consequently, the Washington high gridders eked out a 6-0 win over a determined Alliance team.
The victory before 13,001 at Tiger stadium gave the Tigers a 4-1 record for the first half of the season, sent the Aviators (2-2-1) down to a second straight defeat, gave them a share of the All-American conference cellar with two defeats and enabled the Tigers to climb to fourth with a 1-1 slate.
The game marked the last time for Mel Knowlton to coach an Aviator team against his alma mater. He’ll retire at the end of the season.
The contest also closed Massillon’s current home stand. The Tigers will play a third consecutive AAC game next week at Steubenville.
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FOR SEVEN minutes – stretching from near the end of the third quarter to deep into the fourth – Alliance had the ball, knocking at the door from within 22 yards of the Tigers’ goal. The Orange and Black also stopped an Aviator last-ditch effort with 47 seconds left, to apply a tranquilizer to the frenzied Tiger faithful.
The WHS defense got into the pressure cooker because of fumbles. Twice Alliance fumbled back, a timely interception helped another time and a great goal line stand the fourth.
“Our defense was magnificent, but our offense was too sloppy,” Tiger Coach Bob Commings said. “If we had held onto the ball, I’m sure we could have moved it. We just don’t seem to put everything together.”
One of the key defenders for the Tigertowners was junior linebacker, Mike Mauger
(6-2, 190). In the fourth quarter, he recovered two Alliance fumbles and picked up a free ball on a backward pass.
One recovery came on the Massillon 10. Mauger literally stole the ball on the Alliance 33, but when his mates fumbled back to the Aviators he stopped their final drive on the Massillon 37 after 6-3, 180-pound senior end Rick Maxheimer had spun Alliance quarterback, Bob Knowlton around, causing his pass to move laterally and hit the ground. Mauger scooped up the ball and ran for 26 yards to the Alliance 37 from where Massillon quarterback, Gary Herring repeatedly fell on the ball to run the clock out.
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THINGS BEGAN to get sticky for the Tiger defense with 58 seconds left in the third quarter when Alliance junior tackle, Gary Andreani recovered a punt fumble on the Tigers’ 10. Junior cornerback, Larry Harper knocked down a Knowlton pass from the two to kill that Alliance threat.
With Maxheimer punting from the goal line after the next series had fizzled, Alliance junior halfback, Chuck Larsuel ran back from the Massillon 30 to the 22. Senior linebacker Pat Midgley and cornerback, Jerry Sheaters ended the second threat by cutting short senior fullback Rick Trieff’s screen pass jaunt two yards from a first down on the 14.
But senior halfback Larry King recovered another Tiger fumble on the Massillon 21 on the next play. However, Mauger’s second recovery shortly afterwards aborted that threat.
By the time the contest had ended, the ball had changed hands more times, due to fumbles, than a dollar bill in a poker game. Massillon lost four of six bobbles, while Alliance saw three of four go out the window.
Massillon’s lone touchdown came after Harper had made a dangerous diving second quarter catch of an Alliance punt on the Tigers’ 39. Departing from their normal explosive offense to a grind-it-out type, the Orange and Black scored in 12 plays with senior tailback Darnell Streeter carrying five times, hard-driving senior fullback Mike Autrey, three, and Harper two.
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JUNIOR QUARTERBACK Denny Franklin skirted right end on a boot pass with 5:08 left in the period. Senior ends George Golden and Ray Biery brought Franklin down short of the pylon on the identical play to the other side on the conversion try.
Massillon had one other threat going in the first quarter, but ran out of gas at the Alliance 29.
Mauger also helped cut short two other Aviator missions. His blitz in the first quarter hurried Knowlton’s throw and Streeter picked off the bomb on the Massillon 24.
In the second quarter, with Alliance on a drive from it 28 after a punt, Mauger put the breaks on Geltz on a screen pass for a four-yard loss on second down from the Massillon 21. Midgley threw Knowlton four more yards back and Trieff couldn’t catch a screen pass on fourth down.
Neither team got out of its own territory thereafter until the Alliance recovery of the late fourth quarter Tiger fumble.
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INJURIES PLAYED a big part in the game, Commings felt Franklin, who got his thoughts jumbled by a hard tackle near the end of the second quarter was still groggy later in the game, causing two fumbles and that a rash of hand injuries to backs caused some more.
The others were probably caused by the Orange and Black having their backs against the wall and being over anxious, according to Commings.
Early in the second quarter Alliance lost both its starting offensive ends – Biery and Golden – hurting the Aviator offense greatly. Golden, who had a hip injury, came back near the end of the third quarter but couldn’t run his cuts. Biery, who was dazed, came back late in the second and again late in the fourth stanza. His absence also required Larsuel to do the punting.
“We were not able to take advantage of our opportunities due in good part to injures,” Coach Mel Knowlton said. “I thought sure, at half-time, that we would win. We should have won if we had had all of our kids.”
ALLIANCE – 0
Ends – Biery, Golden, Codrea.
Tackles – Crockett, Andreani, Beckwith, Rand and Ron Kuceyeski, Jones.
Guards – Gemberling, Dietrich, Brunie, Schafer, Bruderly.
Center – Kirksey
Quarterback – Knowlton.
Halfbacks – Larusel, Geltz, Hunt, King, Sloane.
Fullbacks – Trieff, Wright.
MASSILLON – 6
Ends – Maxheimer, Robertson, McConnaughead, Reinerts, Byelene, Lewis.
Tackles – Dorman, Benson, Celik, Bingle, Strobel.
Guards – Hout, Midgley, Jasinski, Jellel, Sims, Miller, Ferguson, McLin.
Centers – S. Luke, Ridgley, Brand.
Quarterbacks – Franklin, Herring.
Halfbacks – Streeter, Harper, Sullivan, Mauger, Lombardi, Sheaters.
Fullbacks – Autrey, Cardinal.
Massillon 0 6 0 0 6
M – QB Denny Franklin, two-yard run.
Referee – Robert Whetstone.
Umpire – Joe Romano.
Head Linesman – John Cseh.
Field Judge – Chuck Hinkle.
First downs – rushing 10 2
First downs – passing 1 3
First downs – penalties 1 3
Total first downs 12 8
Yards gained rushing 203 69
Yards lost rushing 54 15
Net yards gained rushing 149 54
Net yards gained passing 29 74
Total yards gained 173 128
Passes attempted 2-8 11-23
Passes intercepted by 1 0
Yardage on passes intercepted 1 0
Kickoff average (yards) 2-45.5 1-38
Kickoff returns (yards) 16 27
Punt average (yards) 5-32.8 5-36.8
Punt returns (yards) 0 16
Lost fumbled ball 4-6 3-4
Yards penalized 4-53 5-45
Touchdowns rushing 1 0
Total number of plays 65 51